Monday, January 22, 2018

Urinary Tract Stones

Not me, the Boston Terrier.

Not My Dog
The Boston Terrier is a dog that was chosen by one of the two older children.  My child chose this dog because it was "cute".  That, and because they thought they would be given $600 every time somebody wanted to breed Boston Terriers.  No surprise to Mrs ERJ or me, the breeding fees never showed up.

When that child left home, their dog stayed.  This is a fact-of-life for parents.  Kids move on.  Dogs don't.

Diversity complicates management
Different sizes of dogs have different needs.  German Shepherds like being outside even when it is -10F.  German Shepherds like playing in the snow.  German Shepherds are happy when they can run for miles.

Boston Terriers are much smaller.  Our's weighs about 15 pounds vs. 75 pounds for the GSDs.  Boston Terriers have short, flat coats compared to the German Shepherd's deep, lofty fur.

Boston Terriers do not like cold.  They do not like snow.  They don't like drinking cold water on cold days.

Another difference between BIG dogs and little dogs is dietary.  Little dogs need more calories per pound especially in cold weather because they shiver more.  They are also vulnerable to excess calcium in their food.  Small urinary tract passages are easier to plug.  Higher rates of H2O transpiration and lower water intake in cold weather cause lower urine volume and result in more solids precipitating out of their urine.  Not good.

Dog food
We decided it was time to get a dog food that will be specifically for the Boston Terrier.  No more big-bag food for that little boy.
We purchased a bag of Hills Science Diet Small/Toy Breed Adult dog food.  The bag lists the calcium content as Min...0.65%.  The internet says 0.96%  That is a very large difference.
Mrs ERJ and I went to a pet store yesterday.  We were bedazzled by the array of special dog foods.  Aisle-after-aisle of foods.  We checked bags for calcium content. Many brands of dog food seem to think nutritional information is not important, they listed no quantitative info.  Unfortunately the bags that did list calcium content only listed the minimum content so the information is partial. 

The foods formulated for small or toy breeds have a higher fat content.  Higher calories means less food per day which means less calcium.

Water is the magic ingredient
One source on the internet suggests that feeding the food moist helps small dogs get more water into their systems.

In miniature Schnauzers, increasing dietary moisture content increased total moisture intake, and reduced urine specific gravity, urinary oxalate concentration, and calcium oxalate RSS (Stevenson et al. 2003b). In contrast, there was no effect on the urinary concentration of Labradors (Stevenson et al. 2003b), indicating they may regulate water balance more effectively. These data show that small breeds that tend to be at greater risk of calcium oxalate formation may benefit from increased dietary moisture in order to help maintain urinary tract health or manage calcium oxalate urolithasis.  -Source

The same source also suggested that adding common table salt, sodium chloride, to the dog's diet also stimulates water intake.  The plan is to moisten the Boston Terrier's food with chicken bouillon and kill two birds with one stone.

The other little tweak is to give the little pooch distilled water.  Our water is hard and the primary cation is Ca++.  I know that it does not add very much calcium in the overall scheme of things, but distilled water is cheap and we will go back to "regular" when the weather warms up.


  1. My male cat who is 16 years old, and weighs 14 pounds had a visit with the vet after we had moved to MI 7 years ago, and his previous food had not been available. We are on well water, which had a crap load of mineral content in it, at least going by the hard water marks on the faucets. So the vet did surgery to remove the renal stones, the cat got put on a kitty food specially designed to prevent urinary tract stones, and he now gets distilled water. One gallon lasts about a month. He was not having ANYTHING to do with wet or canned food. He likes his dry food. But does drink a fair amount of water daily. Since that one occasion, there have been no more stones, (we have had the tests done to confirm) and he is back to acting about 3 years old. Yes, the special food is more money than Purina, but my only other vice being books, I can spare the book money to keep him healthy and pain free.
    I think it was a combo of the food and the water, and I blame the water more. Distilled water is cheap at $1 a gallon. Certainly much less than the vet bill had been.

    Hope your Boston Terrier is doing better!!

  2. Check out "Young Again" pet foods It's on the internet. I know they take extreme care in formulating their diets. Those other "Science" diets are mostly a scam perpetrated by ignorant vets for various reasons.
    They have a cat diet that puts diabetic cats into remission. Cat diabetes is diet related. Most kibble diets are mostly grain which carnivores do not tolerate well.