How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Dr. Vamvakias Your Own Question
Dr.  Vamvakias
Dr. Vamvakias, Veterinarian
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 998
Experience:  Small Animal & Emergency Medicine
Type Your Pet Question Here...
Dr. Vamvakias is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

Causes of dog urine crystals Treatment other than food Cat litter

Customer Question

My female (spayed) border collie/aussie mix (approx 5.5 years old) was recently diagnosed with a bladder infection (e.coli). After a session of clavamox, when retested, the infection cleared but veterinarian said that she had crystals in her urine, that could lead to further infections as well as stone formation in the urinary tract, bladder, or kidneys. He prescribed CD food. My question is, what are some of the root causes of these crystals? Could I combat them with supplements of some type rather than a special food (I have three dogs, so having one on a special diet is inconvenient). Also, I have all three dogs normally on special food for dental health, as two of the three are older (12 & 8) and beginning to have dental issues. SO -- what are the root causes? ALSO -- since going onto the special food, her eyes are weepy and a little red with some inflammation. ANOTHER thought, could her habit of sneaking "snacks" from the cat litter box (clumping litter) be a potential cause of the crystals?? She is the only one with this habit, and I keep the catbox facing a wall to make it difficult to get into for her -- but she still manages occasionally. I could easily move it to a different room and somehow barricade it from dogs but not the cat, if it is possible that this is the cause.
Submitted: 12 years ago.
Category: Pet
Expert:  Dr. Vamvakias replied 12 years ago.


Is this your dogs first episode of a UTI...and can you possibly get the results from the last urinalysis and tell me what it says.


Customer: replied 12 years ago.
Reply to Dr. Vamvakias's Post: Yes -- this is her first UTI. I HAVE my lab report now, what information are you looking for, specifically? Which things are "high"/"low"?? I could email or fax the document (it is two pages), or try to describe it . . . . . which would be best for you??
Expert:  Dr. Vamvakias replied 12 years ago.

 Please place what you can...high/low and cell report.


Customer: replied 12 years ago.
Creatine 2.0 (high) - 0.5-1.6 normal
Phosphorus 2.3 (Low) - 2.5-6.0
sodium 155 (high) - 139-154
Osmolality, Calculated 320 (high) 277-311
Magnesium 2.8 (high) - 1.5-2.5

Comment: The sample is hemolyzed. Hemolysis may falsely increase total, direct, and indirect bilirubin, total protein, albumin, phosphorus, carbon dioxide, and uric acid. ALP, ALT (SGPT), AST (SGOT), and globulin may be falsely decreased. In some species of animals, potassium may also be increased. GGT may be increased or decreased.

WBC 7.6            4.0-15.5
RBC 8.0            4.8-9.3
HGB 21.6 (high)    12.1-20.3
HCT 61 (high)      36-60
MCV 76            58-79
MCH 26.0          10-28
MCHC 35            30-38

Ph 7.5 (high)    5.5-7.0

protein, glucose-strip, ketones, bilirubin, occult blood, wbc/hpf ALL NEGATIVE

RBC/HPF, Casts/LPF, Squamous epithelia/HPF, Bacteria, Renal Epithelia/HPF, Transitional Epithelia/HPF --ALL NONE OBSERVED

Crystals/HPF -- Struvite (Triple P04)(1+) HIGH -- -- Amorphous Phosphate 2+

I hpe this helps!!
Expert:  Dr. Vamvakias replied 12 years ago.
 Lisa...I haven't forgot about you...I will respond in  a couple hours with some has been a hectic day!


Expert:  Dr. Vamvakias replied 12 years ago.

 Okay, so yesterday didn't go as well as planned...sorry.

The main thing I see on the UA is the pH is high.

So now that I have some history...I will give you "my opinion" on this problem.

Struvite crystals in a dogs the absence of a UTI, don't mean anything...and don't lead to anything. Acutally the crystals can form in urine as it cools.  In any case, you can take the urine from 100 dogs with out UTIs and maybe 40% have crystals...doesn't mean anything.  I do not agree that C/D is the correct food at this time.

Unfortunately, lots of vets treat these like they do cats, but the formula for cats, like acidifying urine and special foods...are not the treatment of choice.

Now, if this dog becomes chronic with UTIs, and struvite crystals progress calculi...then problems...but it will not be because she has crystals now...the issue relies on the infections.

A premium food that is balanced is fine. Some of my clients will occasionally use cranberry pills...but the urine acidity is not as important in dogs as cats, but it can help alittle.

The other dogs need to be on a senior food...and the dental diet can be mixed in.  The cat "treats" can cause intestinal issues but not this problem.

Good luck, and thanks for waiting for my replies...I have had a harder week this week than normal and it cut into my computer time!

IF you have more questions let me know.


Dr. Vamvakias and 3 other Pet Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 12 years ago.
Thank YOU!! I now feel much more "educated" about the situation overall. I will keep an eye out for future UTI's, but hopefully this was an isolated incident. I will also keep all three dogs on the same premium food. In your opinion, what are the actual differences in a senior food?
Expert:  Dr. Vamvakias replied 12 years ago.

 The better senior foods are balanced more for the decrease need of certain elements and increased need in other areas. For example decrease need for certain proteins to ease the work of the aging kidney and liver...increase in vitamin supplements for the aging organs...and so forth. Older dogs, like people, can put on weight, so their foods are less fatty,etc.

My absolute favorite so far, is Eukanuba Veterinary Diet for Senior is wonderful!! My cats even nibble on it. Older dogs get GI issues and so forth, and I think the better the food as they age, the better health they are in...much like us!

There are other kinds, but that is my personal favorite.


Customer: replied 12 years ago.
Reply to Dr. Vamvakias's Post: Thanks again. Because my two "oldest" have very worn teeth, and a tendency toward tartar buildup, I've had them on Nutro's Dental kibble for a few years. I've not thought of senior food, because I thought of it as primarily for "less active" dogs. Both my "oldest" (12 years & 8.5 years) are still weight appropriate, and pretty active. I live on a lake, and the 12 year old will swim to get her frisbee for HOURS if I'd let her, but she demands at least 15-30 minutes of frisbee time per day. My 8.5 year old is a little arthritic & dysplastic, but also has that high-energy "border collie" need for exercise.   HMMMMM -- might be time to blend the two foods.

I've been hesitant to make changes because my ex-husband and I have joint custody of the three dogs. All three go to work with me each day, and each night he takes a different one home with him. That way he gets to spend "quality time" with each of them. BUT -- it also means that anything I do must be replicated at his house also. HMMMM -- good advice, good thoughts!!

You are welcome to come practice in Portland, OR anytime!!!!
Expert:  Dr. Vamvakias replied 12 years ago.

 Well, the diet I suggested is geared toward arthritic dogs...but I used if for all my aging dogs.  I did mix in dental food, but the CET treats are alittle more effective than certain diets.

Thanks for the invite to OR!

Good luck!