Struvite crystals

Discussion in 'Dog Health' started by alexa999, Aug 1, 2008.

  1. alexa999 New Member

    Hi! It's me & Bubba again... The vet said his blood work revealed he has a very high level of struvite crystals. He prescribed some type of antibiotic that was $64!!!!! I, myself do not take medicine, and rarely get sick. When I do, I only do natural "remedies". Since then, I've taken him off store bought dog food, and have been including cranberry pills, and echinacea/goldenseal pills in his homemade diet. He seems to be feeling WAY BETTER, and his coat is gorgeous! Though sometimes he still doesn't seem "himself", and I'm worried I may be harming him by not getting his prescription filled. But at the same time, if it were me, with his condition, I still wouldn't buy the pills from the doctor. Has any one's dog ever had "high" levels of struvite crystals? Or has anyone ever "cured" their dog's illness with home remedies?
    PLEASE reply with any input you have!!!!! THANKS!:doghuh:

  2. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    I am a big fan of home remedies and all natural products, but...the thing is, they don't work for everything. As for struvite crystals, I don't have a clue as I've never known anyone whose dog had them and was treated with natural remedies. You could at least try the prescription for a while and make regular trips to the vet to track his progress. Ask your vet how long it takes for the prescription to show results, so that you aren't opposed to it when it doesn't help quickly. You can continue using the natural remedies---they aren't going to hurt him. If the prescription doesn't seem to be working after a while and your vet really doesn't think it will do any good, then take him off of it and just stick to your natural remedies.
    Would you rather your dog feel good most of the time on natural remedies, or feel good all of the time even though you don't really like prescriptions? For the good of your dog, I think the prescription is worth a shot. =)
  3. alexa999 New Member

    prescription

    Well, the medicine was for like 10 days, what really turned me off (besides the price) was that the vet's receptionist said I had to keep an eye on him because it makes most dog's sick...and in that case I would have to bring him back, and I don't know if they'd give him another medicine, or what. I don't wanna make him SICKER! I feel like most medicines do that to people...ya know, to treat one condition, you get a whole new batch of other conditions! Thanks for your input.
  4. makakoa New Member

    First of all, I think that there is a misunderstanding here. Blood work results could not indicate whether or not your dog has struvite crystals, because these are only found in urine. Urinalysis (chemical and microscopic exam of a fresh urine sample) can show crystals as well as other indications of urinary tract infection, such as white cells, blood, bacteria, altered pH level, specific gravity, etc. If your vet prescribed an antibiotic, it is most likely that he fears or knows that your dog has an infection of the urinary tract. An antibiotic will not make crystals go away per se (although it might change the internal environment to discourage crystal formation.)

    To test your treatment, you should do the same thing your vet would do...repeat a urinalysis after a trial with the treatment. If there has been no change, then perhaps you should consider another treatment plan.

    I also ask would ask you why the urinalysis was being done in the first place? Was your dog showing signs of urinary abnormality? If so, have those signs abated?
    If not, then again, I urge you to have another discussion with your vet.

    As far as medications making animals "sick," I think a better way to look at it is that some treatments make some animals feel nauseated or experience mild diarrhea. This is not a sign of some terrible new illness contracted through medication. It is not a universal reaction to treatment, and stops when treatment is over. Sometimes dietary changes during treatment help. (Example: Adding active culture yogurt or changing to a highly digestible diet)

    Using herbs for medical treatment is just employing a less refined and predictable form of drugs. Herbs are drugs. They have their own set of side effects and toxicities. If they had no effect, they would not do anything as far as treating an ailment. True, because the amounts recommended are generally so small or untested (this is why they can be sold OTC) their side effects are minimized. But their therapeutic effects are also minimized, and often cannot solve the problem.
    While cranberry tablets are useful for acidifying urine, I am unsure as to what direct effect on urine would result from the echinacea and goldenseal. I do know that very aggressive acidification of urine can result in the formation of a different crystal type, calcium oxalate. There is an optimum pH range for dog urine.

    Your best course, if you are still worried about your dog's health, is to have a frank discussion with your vet about your feelings regarding prescription drugs, or perhaps you would be more comfortable talking to a registered technician (not the receptionist) about it.

    Good luck!
  5. alexa999 New Member

    Wow!

    :dogwub:Wow! I'm speechless.... You've given me so much information, and insight, I don't even know where to begin! First- I gotta say THANK YOU!
    Second: I'll respond to your questions:
    1.-Seems kinda "hinky" about the "results" of the BLOOD exam! There was never a urine sample requested, taken or submitted to the "lab"- Nor has he suggested performing any kind of urinalysis( before or after receiving the blood exam results)!
    2.-The vet never mentioned an infection, just mentioned the crystals- then advised the medication and THEIR special diet that could be purchased in the office( how convenient!)
    3.-The reason I took Bubba was cuz it had been super-duper hot, and he wasn't drinking! Only after his daily hike up signal hill would he MAYBE take a couple of sips! That, and he seemed depressed, mopey, not quite himself...I feared he may be dehydrated!

    But he WAS peeing fine on our walks- nothing unusual at all! No straining, regular flow, etc..

    But since I DIDN'T get the medicine from the vet nor the "special" dog food they suggested -I've been feeding him a homemade COOKED diet, and the cranberry pills(for urinary tract health), and the echinacea/goldenseal pills (for immunity and infection control) he's been drinking again, but still just isn't the same...
    I try to tell myself it's because he iS getting older, and- for the past 6 months, he's been with me 24/7- therefore ,no longer has the built up energy and aggression he once did, and now has a calm,submissive, stable state of mind...
    But after reading your post, I'm feeling awful! I hope I haven't been hurting him instead of helping him!He is my "lil' baby"!
    BUT, on the other hand:
    He DOES look healthier, he has a beautiful coat again, and is really happy on our walks and trips to dog beach! BUT- in the house, he just seems BORED! He doesn't have much response to ANYTHING unless I show him his leash, like we're going somewhere.
    Another thing I'm really concerned about:
    I thought it'd be best to "fix" Bubba the "natural" way, the way I do myself,such as feeding him the homemade" good stuff", and the homeopathic supplements- and since doing so, his stools have been very yellow, (firm-not runny). Is that a big deal?

    I'm REALLY against medications for myself, and that's probably why the $64 meds that were prescribed( that also could possibly make Bubba puke or have diarrhea) is such a "hard pill to swallow"....
    Thank you SO MUCH for your input! I'm ANXIOUSLY awaiting your reply!!!!
  6. makakoa New Member

    I'm still trying to get a handle on the bloodwork/urinalysis issue. Did you watch the blood draw when the blood sample was obtained? If not, is it possible that a urine sample was obtained when they drew the blood sample? Were you charged for a urinalysis? (check your invoice.) There has just got to be a miscommunication here.

    Did Bubba receive a complete physical exam when you saw your vet? The signs that you have described seem very general and non-specific. They may or may not be associated with urinary tract problems. I understand from your post that Bubba mainly seems less active and responsive than previously. A full geriatric exam (If he hasn't had one recently) might reveal a better picture of Bubba's present state of health.

    My take on this is that you should have an open and honest discussion with your vet (or a knowledgeable technician in his office) about your worries and about Bubba's home care. Ask him to explain thoroughly what tests he ran, what those tests results indicated to him, what his diagnosis is, and why he thinks that Bubba needs antibiotics and special diet.

    Be sure that he is fully aware of all herbal meds that Bubba receives and of Bubba's specific home diet. Explain your feelings about the use of pharmaceuticals and commercial diets.
    Let him give you his opinion on why he seeks to change the diet or prescribe certain meds.
    He might have some compelling reasons.

    If, after all this, you still don't feel confident about your vet's recommendations, and if you still feel that Bubba is not acting 100% normal, you can always seek a second opinion. This is done all the time, and should not upset your regular vet. Sometimes another vet is better at explaining things, or they might pick up on signs that the first vet did not see.

    If you do decide to seek another opinion, it would be helpful if you had copies of Bubba's recent care, lab work, exam findings and recommendations, etc. If you could take a list of your concerns and observations, this would also make for a more efficient consult, with less danger of forgetting something until after you are on your way home. (By the way, you are entitled to a copy of your pet'srecords, but the vet is required by law to keep the originals, so don't expect the original documents from your first vet. You do have the right to have all the information in the records, either as a xeroxed copy or as a paraphrased copy. The vet also has the right to charge a small fee for this service.)

    Back to the issue of medication side effects: yes, some meds might make some animals nauseated. However, the ones affected might be as few as 5 or 10 percent of patients receiving the drug. That means that 90 to 95 percent do not have any problems, but only receive the benefits of treatment. It is important to keep things in perspective, and not throw the baby out with the bathwater! Everything in medicine is based on comparing benefits vs. risks. The reason we consult doctors and veterinarians is because they have received the special and rigorous training needed to take all factors into consideration and help us make the best decisions for preserving health. Of course, we have a right to have our opinions on what care we will accept, but we don't always have all the information needed for making the best decision.

    It doesn't sound to me as though anything you have done has endangered your pet's health at this point. However, if you have the impression that something is just not right with Bubba, I hope that you will follow up on it and seek answers, since delay in treatment can sometimes lead to unforeseen problems.

    You asked about a fecal color change since you have begun the home diet and homeopathic supplements (do you mean the cranberry tabs and the echinacea/goldenseal, or are there others?) This is probably not significant, and may be due to dietary change more than anything else. You mentioned that you are cooking for Bubba. Do you feed the exact same recipe every meal, or are there frequent variations in the ingredients? As a general rule, animals do not do well with sudden dietary change. It is usually best to allow a slow transition from one food to another over a 10 day period to avoid digestive upset. BUT, since I don't know all the facts about Bubba and his diet, it would be impossible to give you a "diagnosis" for his fecal changes. Be sure to discuss this with your vet as well.

    Good luck, and keep me posted. I have to admit that I am very curious about the blood struvite thing! I hope things improve for you and Bubba soon.
  7. drgnrdr New Member

    My dog had a habit of forming crystals, found when she was peeing and drinking alot, after 4 weeks of bugging my vet they finally did a urinalysis etc.., it showed crystals and a UTI also, she was licking herself, anyway lots of testing with special food some antibiotics I used for a few days but stools runny forget it, I started to do cranberry pils, ester c, and filtered water, and gave her more water and liquid intake was increased, after many tests every few days, it cleared and I keep up with the cran,esterc and such and so far she is crystal free. good luck
  8. alexa999 New Member

    Just received your msg!

    :msnblushing:I apologize for not replying sooner- just got the post! Now for the update on Bubba:
    after I didn't see any replies to my last post for a couple of days, and my concern for his health was rapidly turning into "hysteria" ;), I went back to the vet to 1.-get the results of his tests in my hand;2. to discuss the whole thing further w/ the vet; and 3.-possibly try him out on the antibiotics. WELL_- I couldn't talk to the vet because it was his day off, so i waited to talk to the other guy that was in the office! In the meantime, I looked over his bloodwork, and yes, they performed a urinalysis on Bubba as well.
    Now, I don't know EXACTLY what all the numbers mean, but it did note struvite under the cyrstals/HPF test. On the next line, under BACTERIA, it said none observed. To me, that means there isn't an infection in his urinary tract, so why the antibiotics?
    So, I decided (again) to not get the medicine.
    And I'm glad I didn't! Bubba's been eating a homemade diet, and along with the cranberry pills and the occasional echinacea/goldenseal pill mixed in, he seems to be doing FABULOUS!
    NOW I've come to the conclusion that him not being "himself" is probably due to the fact that we live in an apartment now, and he's always been an outside dog. I take him every single day on a 45 minute to an hour long hike,and during the week i also take him to dog park or dog beach!So, he gets plenty of exercise, he's just not so used to being inside so much...
  9. makakoa New Member

    I'm glad to hear that you straightened out the urinalysis misunderstanding, and were able to get more information from your vet's office (if not from the vet himself.) And I'm glad to hear that your dog's health and attitude are improved!

    Struvite crystals are a common finding in canine urine, and can be something that forms after the sample is collected (through refrigeration, standing, etc.) If the sample was not run immediately after collection (within 30 minutes), the presence of crystals may be an artifact.

    Crystals per se do not affect the bladder; the fear is that they will coalesce into stones that do cause pain and even a blockage. (I am not suggesting that this is a problem with your dog.) You might want to have a urinalysis repeated in a month, to see what the urine's pH is and to check for crystals, but be sure to (1) collect the sample when you arrive at the vet's and (2) request that the sample be run immediately while you wait. (Did they run the sample in-house, or did they send it out to a reference lab? If they sent it out, the struvites proabaly don't mean much considering the time lapse between collection and examination.) You should call them to discuss this before you go to the vet; if they always send samples out, they aren't going to be able to accommodate you. Also, you don't want to show up with a sample at a time when no one is available to read it.

    Sounds as though everything is under control. I'd suggest that you stop the echinacea/goldenseal tabs. As you said, if there is no infection, why treat for one?

    Good luck!

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