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Kidney Stones (Struvite) in Dogs

Urolithiasis, Struvite in Dogs

Urolithiasis is the medical condition characterized by the presence of stones in the kidneys, bladder, or anywhere within the urinary tract. Struvite, which is primarily composed of magnesium, ammonium, and phosphate, is the main material forming these stones. These stones tend to occur more frequently in female dogs than in male dogs, particularly in dogs that are around six to seven years old. Struvite stones make up more than one-third of all urinary tract stones found in dogs.

Symptoms and Types

Although some dogs may not exhibit any symptoms, others may experience urinary issues such as:

  • Irregular urine stream
  • Difficulty urinating (dysuria)
  • Frequent urination
  • Presence of blood in the urine (hematuria)
  • Cloudy urine
  • Increased thirst

Additionally, heightened thirst (polydipsia) is often linked to the presence of kidney stones. If there is significant inflammation, the bladder may become enlarged. At times, it may be possible to palpate the stones directly through the skin.


Several established risk factors contribute to the formation of struvite stones in dogs, including elevated levels of steroids, abnormal urine retention, and highly alkaline urine. These types of stones are often more prevalent following urinary tract infections or disorders. Certain breeds of dogs are particularly predisposed to struvite stones, including:

  • Miniature Schnauzers
  • Shih Tzus and Bichon Frises
  • Miniature Poodles
  • Cocker Spaniels and Lhasa Apsos


Typically, X-rays and ultrasounds are employed to ascertain the size, shape, and location of the stones, facilitating an accurate evaluation of treatment options.


Dietary management, coupled with antibiotic therapy, has shown efficacy in dissolving struvite stones. When employing dietary management, strict adherence is crucial, necessitating the elimination of other foods and treats until the animal has fully recuperated.

The dissolution process typically spans from two weeks to as long as seven months. If there is no discernible dissolution of the stones within a few weeks, surgical intervention may be required.

Living and Management

Regular monitoring using X-rays and ultrasounds is employed to evaluate the progress of stone dissolution. Additionally, a specific dietary regimen may be recommended to support ongoing management.


In certain instances, limiting the animal’s dietary intake of magnesium has been demonstrated as effective for preventing stone formation.

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