DEAR DR. FOX: We have a German shorthaired pointer-Lab mix puppy; she is not quite 5 months old. She has had two urinary tract infections. When she developed the second one, our vet did a urinalysis and said she had crystals in her urine. He prescribed Hills Prescription c/d dog food for her as a preventative for future problems, i.e. kidney stones.
Is this the treatment you would recommend? What causes this condition? Her infections both cleared up after a course of antibiotics. -- L.D., Alexandria, Virginia
DEAR L.D.: It is not unusual for young female dogs to develop lower urinary tract infections, and they usually develop some immunity as they mature. But once a bacterial infection becomes established, inflammatory reactions in the lining of the bladder and urethra cause pain and straining, often with the passing of blood.
Cellular debris becomes the nuclei for urinary crystal formation, most usually struvite crystals associated with abnormally alkaline urine, caused in large part by a high-cereal diet. So in an emergency, adding acidifying cooked organic tomato pulp was a popular remedy, but now d-mannose (found in cranberries) is another preventive suggestion. Try a dietary change, and encourage your dog to drink lots of water, even flavored with some home-prepared low-salt beef or chicken bullion.
Give your dog probiotics with low-grain or grain-free food, a selection of which is posted on my website (DrFoxVet.com). I would finish whatever antibiotic treatment cycle your dog is on and then stop. Phase out the costly manufactured prescription diet, and transition onto a raw or freeze-dried dog food if none on my website appeals to you.
DEAR DR. FOX: Our Dice (a 14-year-old male kitty) just left us, and we're heartbroken. He was diagnosed with kidney failure. I can't help thinking it may have been what we fed him for so many years.
In the last three years, we switched to Blue Buffalo wet and crunchy food, but he favored his Fancy Feast crunchies and Gravy Lovers wet food. Dice left behind our Bella, a 2-year-old female, who does not drink water but will eat Fancy Feast Gravy Lover's canned food.
Are we doing her more harm than good? Can you suggest any other food? There are so many on your website it makes me crazy! We do not want her to go through what our beloved Dice went through ... or any other kitty for that matter. -- T.G., Fort Myers, Florida
DEAR T.G.: There are many factors that contribute to renal failure in cats, and also in humans.
So many things can trigger autoimmune diseases, including kidney disease: the nutrition of the pregnant mother, what animals are fed, what contaminants in the environment animals are exposed to (especially in water and foods) and any infections and vaccinations they may have. We have disrupted and poisoned the planet and have a lot of housekeeping and cleanup to see to. Carnivores like cats living high up on the contaminated food chain are especially at risk. Organically certified whole food ingredients, raw food and freeze-dried are the wave of the future for cats.
I get crazier than you checking all the ingredients and sources of origin of various pet foods, and the best that I have found are posted on my website and by Susan Thixton on her website, truthaboutpetfood.com. Also check with feline-nutrition.org for more leads on feeding your future cats.
(Send all mail to email@example.com or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
Visit Dr. Fox's website at DrFoxVet.com.)