Struvite stones in dogs (definition, causes, tips)

What exactly are struvite stones in dogs? We show you the definition, causes and helpful tips in dealing with it. We also got advice for this article from veterinarian Mag.med.vet. Emin Jasarevic, so be curious!

Struvite stones
Table of Contents

Urinary tract disorders can be a painful affair for your dog. One of the most common diseases of the urinary tract is urinary or bladder stones. 

What exactly are struvite stones?

Struvite stones are a subtype of urinary stones. They are differentiated according to their constituents. Urinary stones (also called urate stones) are formed by a crystallization process in the urine. These crystals can subsequently aggregate and then form urinary stones. 

They are formed by various substances that are excreted during urination. These urine crystals are located in the lower urinary tract or the urinary bladder, and more rarely in the kidney. 

Struvite crystals occur most frequently and consist mainly of magnesium and phosphorus. They have a smooth surface and resemble small, light-colored pebbles.

What causes are to blame?

The ph-value in the dog's urine plays the main role in the formation of struvite stones. When there is a shift to the basic range (>6.5-7.0), the crystals form. There are several possible causes for this shift:


In the event of a urinary tract infection or a cystitis the bacteria can cause an increase in the pH value. Increased calcium levels in the blood or liver dysfunction can also contribute. 


Increased mineral intake due to the wrong diet promotes crystal formation. For example, the intake of calcium, phosphorus and magnesium is largely responsible for this.

Low water absorption

If your darling too little drinks, highly concentrated urine is formed. The high salt content of the urine in turn creates struvite stones.


Struvite stones most commonly occur in the bladder of bitches and often develop in association with a urinary tract infection. Other types of urinary stones are more common in male dogs.

Which breeds are most affected?

Dalmatian 2

Breed also plays an important role in the development of struvite stones. The stones were occupied more often in the following breeds:

Bassets Bichon Frisée Boston Terrier
Bulldog Chihuahua Cocker Spaniel
Dachshund Dalmatian Husky
Lhasa Apso Pug Shi Tzu
Yorkshire Terrier Miniature poodle Miniature Schnauzer

What are the symptoms?

The first clues for urinary stones provide the following typical symptoms:

  • Frequent urination
  • Difficulties and pain expressions during urination
  • Slow drainage of small amounts of urine
  • Pain in the abdominal area
  • Incontinence
  • Blood in urine

If you observe one or more of these symptoms in your dog, you should see your trusted veterinarian as soon as possible.

Only your veterinarian can make a clear diagnosis, as these symptoms can also occur with other diseases.

What are the effects of struvite stones?

The urinary stones can lead to Injuries of the mucous membranes lead. Furthermore, it can lead to a Obstruction of the urinary tract which can cause the bladder to rupture. 

The struvite stones can cause the Completely close the urinary tractwhich means a life-threatening situation for your pelt-nose.

How is a diagnosis made?

Only a veterinarian can make a definitive diagnosis. There are several examination options:


A urine examination can detect bacterial infections, the ph value, blood in the urine and the typical crystals. This examination also shows by the mineral composition and density an incorrect feed selection or too little water intake.

X-ray examination

Only larger and certain radiopaque stones can be seen on an x-ray.

Ultrasound examination

Ultrasound shows almost any stone, regardless of size.

Stone analysis

After the vet has surgically removed stones or your dog has excreted them through the urine, a laboratory analysis can be performed. The stone analysis can be used to identify with certainty the type of stone and whether it is indeed a struvite stone.


What are the treatment options?

There are three options for the treatment of struvite stones:

1. medicinal measures

Through certain medications, the ph-value of the urine is changed. This can dissolve the stones in the bladder.

2. surgical measures

Smaller stones are flushed out through a catheter placed in the bladder. For larger stones, surgery is performed to remove them.

3. treatment through a change in diet

The most important thing is that your dog drinks more and eats right. In the next point there are the best tips for this.


How can I prevent the development?

For the prevention of struvite stones is recommended a select diet. You can also prevent recurrence this way. 

The BARF food is very suitable. You can use it to reduce the basic building blocks of the crystals, magnesium and phosphorus, in the feed. 

In addition, the urine must be acidified so that the struvite crystals cannot form in the first place. Table salt and a little grain will help you with this. 

A 80 % Meat content is recommended as well as no mineral or vitamin supplements.

The Homeopathy recommends ground rose hips to acidify urine.

Also in the prevention is drink a lot the best recommendation. You can encourage your dog to drink by drinking fountains if he prefers fresh water. 

At the BARF nutrition you can easily vegetables and fruits rich in water add. If you prefer ready-made food, you can water the food to support it. 

You can Dry food dilute in the ratio of three parts water to one part feed. Wet food already has a very high liquid content.

In addition, there are manufacturers who produce high quality Dietetic ready food offer. The ready diet food takes into account the above points in its composition.

Veterinarian’s Recommendation

In conclusion, the most important role is yours as an attentive dog owner. The symptoms are not always clear at the beginning and are often mild.

If there is a suspicion, you should visit a veterinarian. The exact clarification of the type of stone allows a targeted therapy.

Affected dogs have a good chance of recovery in most cases if treated properly and quickly.

To prevent struvite stones in dogs and avoid a relapse you can contribute specifically. To do this, you should definitely ensure adequate water intake and proper nutrition.

Additional minerals or vitamins should not be added without consulting the veterinarian. Sufficient water and the right diet are the be-all and end-all in the fight against struvite stones.

Veterinarian Mag.med.vet. Emin Jasarevic
Veterinarian Mag.med.vet. Emin Jasarevic

I am a veterinarian and writer on animal health topics. Animals are my passion, and it is my personal goal to create medically accurate articles and videos to educate pet owners as much as possible.

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