Bladder stones in your dog can be a scary problem. Because your conventional vet will probably tell you the best option is surgery.
Sometimes that may be true, if your dog has a severe case. Other times your vet may offer some more conservative options. You can read about all the conventional treatments in Bladder Stones In Dogs: Is Surgery The Only Option?
But there are cases where you can use diet and home remedies to manage your dog’s bladder stones.
Read on to learn how you can avoid surgery … and prevent your dog from getting bladder stones again.
Home Remedies For Bladder Stones
You can use diet along with herbs or homeopathy to ease your dog’s symptoms … and even to help your dog pass bladder stones.
These solutions will take longer than conventional treatments. But you’ll avoid using anesthesia and invasive procedures for your dog.
Conventional Or Natural?
It can be a difficult decision. So consider consulting a holistic vet as well as a conventional one. Your holistic vet can help you analyze the choices depending on your dog’s condition. .
The most urgent situation is a total urinary blockage. If your dog can’t pee, that’s a true emergency that needs immediate surgery.
But if your dog has a milder case … you may have the luxury of time to choose natural options.
Manage Bladder Stones Naturally
Some dogs are prone to recurring bladder stones. So you can use some of these natural approaches for prevention too.
Here are some dietary and herbal approaches to managing bladder stones for your dog.
1. Make Sure Your Dog Drinks Lots Of Water
This may seem obvious. But, no matter what type of stones your dog has … don’t underestimate the power of water to help. It’s an important part of bladder stone management that vets often overlook.
Most dogs develop bladder stones when they are on kibble. Moisture in kibble is only 9% to 11%. A raw diet contains 80% or more moisture.
Keep your dog well hydrated to dilute minerals in the urine. This can help prevent stones from forming.
Feeding a high moisture diet is a good start. If you’ve ever switched a dog from kibble to raw … you’ll have seen how much less water your dog drinks on a raw diet.
Make sure your dog has ready access to ample filtered or spring water (not tap water). Some things that can encourage your dog to drink more are …
- More water bowls around the house and yard
- Flavoring the water with broth
- Water fountains with running water
- Feeding bone broth or adding it to food
But keep it voluntary. Don’t ever force your dog to drink more than he wants.
And of course, with increased drinking, make sure he gets plenty of opportunities to go out to pee.
2. Feed Foods That Help Prevent Bladder Stones
Whatever your dog’s condition, feeding a fresh, whole food diet is the healthiest strategy. Avoid highly processed, starchy kibble diets, especially if your dog has struvite stones.
And this includes prescription diets your vet might try to persuade you to feed. These diets might help short term … but they offer very poor nutrition for your dog.
Instead, here are some dietary recommendations for the different types of stones. Homeopath and Certified Canine Nutritionlist Brenda Tobin DiHom, DVetHom, Cert CN offers the advice below on diets for struvite and calcium oxalate stones.
Food To Manage Struvite Stones
Dogs develop struvite stones when their urine is alkaline and saturated with magnesium and phosphate. Struvite stones usually stem from bacterial infections. Dogs who produce a high concentration of urea may be more susceptible to struvite stones. That’s because bacterial urease converts urea to ammonia, a component of struvite.
Animal proteins are acidifying. So, to manage struvite stones, feed your dog a raw meat based diet with other acidic foods.
INCLUDE Acidic Foods For Struvite Stones
- Chicken (be sure this is organic and free range)
- Cottage cheese
- Brown rice
- Black beans
- Kidney beans
AVOID Alkaline Foods For Struvite Stones
- All sprouts
- Green beans
- Sweet potatoes
- Swiss chard
- Fruit: bananas, apples, pineapple, strawberries
Food For Calcium Oxalate Stones
Oxalate crystals form when oxalates are excreted in the urine. They bind to calcium, which then forms calcium oxalate stones. Urine that’s high in calcium oxalate crystals is acidic and needs more alkaline or neutral foods.
Make sure any supplements you give don’t contain excessive amounts of vitamin C. It’s acidifying.
FEED Low Oxalate Foods
- Organ meats
- Fish like cod, whitefish, salmon, oysters
- Fruit – apples, pears, watermelon, banana, lemon, pineapple
- Veggies – broccoli, Brussels sprouts. asparagus, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, mushrooms, lettuce
- Herbs – parsley, peppermint, garlic, ginger, basil
AVOID High Oxalate Foods
- Legumes – lentils, beans (black, white, navy)
- Grains – wheat, corn, rice
- Fruits – apricots, figs
- Veggies – collard, mustard greens, sweet potatoes, okra
Food For Urate Stones
Dogs like Dalmatians who are prone to urate stones need to eat low purine diets. Feed a fresh, whole food diet focusing on low and medium purine foods from the list below. Avoid high purine foods.
FEED Low and Medium Purine Foods
- Green leafy vegetables (except spinach)
- Dairy products (plain yogurt, kefir, low fat cottage cheese)
- Nuts (not macadamia as they can be toxic to dogs)
- Muscle meats from chicken, turkey, lamb, pork and beef
- Oats and oatmeal
You can feed green tripe can be fed in moderation – once a week. It’s medium to high in purines. But it also has many benefits. It provides enzymes and bacteria that help with digestion and improve metabolism.
AVOID High Purine Foods
- Organs/offal (brain, heart, liver, kidneys)
- Yeast (including nutritional and brewers yeast)
- Oily fish like mackerel, herring, sardines
- Legumes (such as kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas)
Other Foods That Can Help Prevent Bladder Stones
There are also other foods that can help prevent bladder stones in your dog.
Cranberries can be a good addition to your dog’s diet to help prevent struvite stones. Research shows cranberries can help manage and prevent UTIs. Infections are often at the root of struvite stone formation.
Cranberries also create more acidity in your dog, which helps prevent struvite stones.
Always buy organic cranberries. It’s a fruit that’s otherwise grown with a lot of pesticides. If your dog will eat whole cranberries, sprinkle a few on his food to start. Unsweetened freeze-dried cranberries can be another good option.
Sometimes it’s easier to just use a cranberry supplement. Buy one made for dogs and dose according to the label. Or, if you buy one made for humans, assume the dosing is for a 150 lb person and adjust according to your dog’s weight.
RELATED: How cranberries help your dog …
Apple Cider Vinegar
Many dogs with struvite stones respond well to regular apple cider vinegar (ACV). Again, it helps acidify your dog’s urine to discourage struvite stones from forming.
Buy raw, organic unfiltered ACV. Mix it with your dog’s food (or water, if she likes it), in these amounts according to weight.
Up to 15 lbs … 1 tsp
Up to 35 lbs … 2 tsp
Up to 85 lbs … 1 Tbsp
3. Use Herbs For Bladder Stones
There are several herbs that can help manage bladder stones. Canine Herbalist Rita Hogan’s protocol below helped her own dog avoid surgery.
When Rita adopted her dog Francis, she had bad bladder stones. Vets recommended surgery. Instead, Rita fed her a raw diet, and gave her the herbal blend below. Within three weeks the stones were gone.
Emergency/Acute Herbal Blend For Bladder Stones
Rita Hogan advises giving this blend when your dog has acute bladder stone symptoms. This formula works both both struvite and oxalate stones.
Mix together tinctures in the following proportions:
Marshmallow root glycerite 20%
Cleavers leaf and flower tincture 15%
Nettle leaf tincture 20%
Plantain leaf tincture 10%
Blackberry leaf tincture 10%
Uva ursi leaf tincture10%
Gravel root tincture 10%
Yarrow flowers and leaf tincture 5%
Dosage: Give 3 drops 3 times daily for every 10 lbs of body weight.
Caution: Do not use this blend for dogs with kidney or liver disease, or for pregnant dogs.
Healing Herbal Infusions For Bladder Stones
Once your dog’s acute symptoms resolve, Rita recommends either a hot or cold infusion using her recipes below. These will support ongoing healing for your dog.
Mix equal amounts of the herbs below. Add 2 Tbsp of dried herb to 8 ounces of almost boiling water. Let it steep for 45 minutes. Strain and cool before using. This blend keeps for 2 days in refrigerator. After that make a new batch.
Uva Ursi leaf
Yarrow leaf and flower
Dose: Give 1/8 cup per every 10 pounds of body weight over food 2x daily.
Use equal amounts of both herbs below. Add 2 Tbsp of dried herb to 8 ounces of water. Let it steep overnight, then strain and refrigerate for up to 2 days. After that make a fresh batch.
Cleavers leaf and flowerDose: Give 1/8 cup per every 10 pounds of body weight over food 2x daily
Other Herbal Options
More general uses for herbs when your dog has bladder stones are to …
- Help moderate urine pH
- Reduce infection
- Soothe the bladder and urinary tract
Mucilaginous herbs like slippery elm and marshmallow root can lubricate mucous membranes. This can help stones pass.
Herbalists Gregory Tilford and Mary Wulff recommend this formula to soothe, lubricate and reduce inflammation. It also helps reduce or prevent infection.
Herbal Formula For Urinary Infections And Stones
Make a strong tea from dried herbs, or use low alcohol tinctures.
3 parts marshmallow root
1 part couch grass
1 part nettle
1 part echinacea
1 part Oregon grape
Give on an empty stomach and encourage your dog to drink plenty of water.
Tea dosing: 1 tsp (5 ml) of cooled tea twice daily per 30 lbs body weight
Tincture dosing: 1-2 ml twice daily per 30 lbs of body weight
4. Homeopathic Remedies For Bladder Stones
Homeopathy can offer additional support to your dog. Consider these remedies.
Cantharis – One of the principal remedies for stones. Your dog will strain to urinate, oftentimes eliminating drops of blood-tinged urine.
Aconite – If you notice early signs of a urinary tract infection, especially if there’s a fever.
Causticum – Useful for an older dog with incontinence, leaking, dribbling and straining to urinate.
Natrum muriaticum – Your dog has excessive thirst. Urine is pale and copious. Nat mur is the remedy to consider for “clearing out the kidneys.” Large amounts of cloudy urine may pass after starting this remedy.
Berberis – For a dog with back pain, especially near the kidneys. This is an excellent remedy to consider specifically for oxalate crystals.
How To Give Homeopathic Remedies
Buy remedies in a 30C or 200C potency. Choose the remedy that best fits your dog’s condition.
- Put 2-3 pellets in a 1/4 cup of spring or filtered water. (Don’t touch the pellets with your hands as that can negate the remedy.)
- Stir vigorously, then use a dropper or teaspoon to place some of the remedy on your dog’s gums. That is one dose.
- Dosing frequency: For 30C potency, dose twice daily for 5-7 days.
If using 200C, dose once only, and wait to see improvement.
- Don’t refrigerate the remedy. Make up a new water solution daily.
5. Monitor Urine pH
If your dog is prone to any kind of bladder stones, it’s a good idea to monitor her urine pH. You can buy test strips to measure urine pH. Or if you want a more detailed analysis, buy strips called VetStixTM. They’re available at many online pharmacies. You won’t need a prescription. They’re easy to use and can often save you from spending money on urinalysis at the vet.
Ask your holistic vet what pH level she recommends for your dog. But in general, try to keep your dog’s pH neutral, around 7.0.
Bladder stones can be painful and even life-threatening. But there are many natural approaches that can help manage them. Even if your dog has to have stones removed, the right food and herbs can help prevent a recurrence.
Lulich JPet al. ACVIM small animal consensus recommendations on the treatment and prevention of uroliths in dogs and cats. J Vet Intern Med. 2016;30(5):1564-1574.
Houston DM, Moore AE. Canine and feline urolithiasis: examination of over 50 000 urolith submissions to the Canadian veterinary urolith centre from 1998 to 2008. Can Vet J. 2009 Dec;50(12):1263-8.
Austin C. Luskin et al. Bone resorption in dogs with calcium oxalate urolithiasis and idiopathic hypercalciuria. Research in Veterinary Science. 2019;123:129-134.
Ling GV et al. Urolithiasis in dogs. II: Breed prevalence, and interrelations of breed, sex, age, and mineral composition. Am J Vet Res. 1998 May;59(5):630-42.
Arulpragasam SP et al. Evaluation of costs and time required for laparoscopic-assisted versus open cystotomy for urinary cystolith removal in dogs: 43 cases (2009-2012). J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2013 Sep 1;243(5):703-8.
Espinel, Jorge et al (2019). Incidence of surgical site infection in dogs undergoing soft tissue surgery: risk factors and economic impact. Veterinary Record Open. 6(1):e000233.
Bevan JM et al. Comparison of laser lithotripsy and cystotomy for the management of dogs with urolithiasis. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2009 May 15;234(10):1286-94.
Cléroux A. Minimally Invasive Management of Uroliths in Cats and Dogs. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract. 2018 Sep;48(5):875-889.
Lulich JP et al. Changing paradigms in the treatment of uroliths by lithotripsy. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract. 2009 Jan;39(1):143-60.
Lulich JP et al. Nonsurgical removal of urocystoliths in dogs and cats by voiding urohydropropulsion. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1993 Sep 1;203(5):660-3.
Langston C et al. Methods of urolith removal. Compend Contin Educ Vet. 2010 Jun;32(6):E1-7;quiz E8.
Cruciani B et al. Removal of lower urinary tract stones by percutaneous cystolithotomy: 68 cases (2012-2017). Vet Surg. 2020 Jun;49 Suppl 1:O138-O147. doi: 10.1111/vsu.13398.