Bladder infections usually occur as bacteria normally living in and around the lower urinary tract. The bacteria ascend (go up) the urinary tract through the urethra and infect the normally sterile bladder. Clinical signs of either bladder infections or bladder stones are similar and include increased frequency of urination, painful or burning sensation during urination, excessive licking at the genitals, and occasionally blood in the urine. Increased thirst, increased volume of urine, and urinary incontinence are rarely associated with bladder disease and are more typical of kidney disease and diabetes.
Principal Natural Treatments
If processed foods must be fed, most holistic veterinarians prefer canned diets (which contain large amounts of water) rather than dry foods.
Dietary therapy is a useful adjunct (and possible preventive measure) for pets with bladder infections. Since most infections commonly form in alkaline urine (urine with high pH), diets should help maintain an acidic urine (low pH) as much as possible. Diets with animal-based protein sources are most important in maintaining an acidic pH (vegetarian or cereal-based diets are more likely to cause an alkaline urine).
While urinary acidifiers can be useful, some doctors discourage their use, as the exact dosage that is safe and effective is often not known. If urinary acidifiers are used for short-term acidification, a natural therapy such as cranberry extract might be preferred to conventional medications (such as methionine).
Diet For Dogs With Bladder Infections
Before you start to feed your dog or cat a home-prepared diet, it is strongly recommended you discuss your decision with your veterinarian or a holistic veterinarian in your area. It is essential you follow any diet’s recommendations closely, including all ingredients and supplements. Failure to do so may result in serious health consequences for your pet.
2/3 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1 large hard-boiled egg
2 cups long grain, cooked brown rice
2 teaspoons chicken fat or canola oil
1/2 ounce brewer’s yeast
1/4 teaspoon potassium chloride (salt substitute)
4 ounces tuna (in water without sodium)
This diet provides 780 kcal (enough to fulfill the daily amount required for a 25-pound dog), 42.9 gm protein, 22 gm fat, 92 mg sodium/100 kcal (a high-sodium diet).
- Substitute 1/4 pound of lean ground beef (or ground chicken or lamb) for the tuna.
- Substitute 2 to 3 cups potato, cooked with the skin, or 2 cups cooked macaroni for the rice.
- Supply vitamins and minerals as follows: 4 bonemeal tablets (10-grain or equivalent) or 1 teaspoon of bonemeal powder to supply calcium and phosphorus with a multivitamin/mineral supplement using the label instructions. Alternatively, use a natural product from Standard Process (1 Calcifood Wafer or 2 Calcium Lactate tablets for each 2 bonemeal tablets).
- When possible, use natural vitamins made from raw whole foods, rather than synthetic vitamins (although both can be used in combination), as the natural vitamins also supply plant phytochemicals, enzymes, and other nutrients not found in chemically synthesized vitamins. Use either Catalyn from Standard Process (at a dose of 1 Catalyn per 25 pounds) or Canine Plus from VetriScience (following label dosages) for the natural vitamins in this recipe.
- For extra nutrition and variety, use fresh, raw, or slightly steamed vegetables, such as carrots or broccoli (approximately 1/2 to 1 cup per recipe) as a top dressing for the diet. Most vegetables provide approximately 25 kcal per ½ cup.
- Add supplements that can be beneficial, such as omega-3 fatty acids, plant enzymes, and a super green food or health blend formula.
Note: If adding vegetables or other supplements, monitor urine pH when feeding the diet with these supplements and without the supplements to be sure the pH does not change from acid to alkaline. Some dogs have a difficult time producing acid urine even when fed the above diet or when administered urinary acidifiers.
Next month we look at a specialized diet for cats and the use of cranberry for both dogs and cats. Conventional therapies for bladder infections will also be discussed.
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Shawn Messonnier, DVM
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Shawn Messonnier DVM Past Supporting Member, Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians Author, the award-winning The Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats, The Natural Vet’s Guide to Preventing and Treating Cancer in Dogs, and Breast Choices for the Best Chances: Your Breasts, Your Life, and How YOU Can Win The Battle!
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