There was telltale blood in the urine plus three little white "beads" that D'Arcy had passed in her morning piddle. At the vets', x-rays showed four more spherical floating objects in her bladder. We were at a crossroads. But, for the value of this tale, let's take a more common road... surgery. The stones, for that is what they proved to be, were removed surgically and shipped to the * University [many states away] for the weeks that it takes to analyze stone type. D'Arcy was sent home, with her Elizabethan collar, to await the results... results that found the stones to be triple phosphate stones, more commonly called struvite, a finding that would require a lifelong, never to be deviated from, prescription diet of Hill C/D.
Cost of the radiograph, the surgery, lab analysis et al: $1900+
Cost of the prescription diet: $31,50 per 10lb bag... for life.
~ The End ~
Or... is it?
All of us are familiar with the proverb intended to show that small actions can result in large consequences... "For the want of the nail, the shoe, the rider, the... Scottie[?] could be lost..." A lot of poetic licence there, but relevant to this experience.
I doubt there is a soul amongst us who does not absolutely love his Scottie to bits! Some even freely admit to caring more about their dogs than they care for most people. Care? Caring? What an interesting word when one stops to think about it. Caring for our Scotties is certainly manifested through our attention to food, water, walks, grooming, shots, nail trimming, and... lost of that lavish love. Yet, why is it that we become so non-attentive when it comes to the more anal things, rudimentary functions like peeing and crapping until something goes very "bump in the night"?
"The Nail" - A single 15' roll of pH paper includes a colour chart, with dispenser: $8.99, includes shipping from http://www.thehealthhound.com/ph.html
When you all get up in the morning, you let [or get] the dog out to pee;
Every few weeks, tear off a tiny piece of pH paper, bend over and dip it in the puddle of pee*;
If the strip stays mid-colour, all is OK. If the strip has turned dark or, conversely toward the lightest colour, you are looking at uring that is too alkaline [struvite stone precursor] or too acidic [oxatale stone precursor] and something needs to be done... but what?
If the paper turns brown, yet there have been no observable symptoms [blood or objects] it is time to try treatment, then supplementation to right the problem.
A Second Nail - If the "first pee of the morning" continues to read 7.2 or higher, it is time to see the vet. In dogs developing struvite stones, there is almost guaranteed to be an underlying bladder infection that serves to set up a mechanical chain of events. The UTI should be treated. Once that is accomplished, we supplemented our Scottie's diets with cranberry capsules purchased at Rite Aid [or any drug, or health store]; the range can be from 400 to 425 mgs per capsule. We gave two a day and continued to do so for the rest of our struvite-prone Scottie's lives. Not only did the urine remain within the safe zone, we have never had a urinary tract infection and we never again had to deal with struvite stones. We now supplement our newest clan members with one cranberry capsule a day and check their pee on a regular schedule. We consider it preventative action and the "shoe" remains intact, where it rightfully belongs.
*Making sure that the dog piddles on a non-absorbant surface!
The Shoe -If you have not monitored and controlled the pH of your Scottie's urine and the dog has the mechanism, possibly inherited, that that triggered the formation of struvite bladder stones, you are now at the fork in the road mentioned earlier in D'Arcy story. Our vet, after examining the x-rays and checking the urine pH [from a sample we free caught first thing in the morning], diagnosed struvite stones, drew the outlines showing us the image difference between struvite and oxalate and recommended that we use the 30 days Hills C/D, the stone dissolving diet, instead of doing surgery. Not only did D'Arcy pass three of the now-smaller stones, when x-rayed following 30 days of the diet, her bladder was as clear as the proverbial bell! She did not have to go through surgery and we saved $2000 by taking a simpler and effective course of action following the recommendations of our vet.
The Horse - D'Arcy sailed along for over a year on a diet of the prescribed stone controlling diet, seemingly doing fine until the day we took her in for an ultrasound screening, done out of concern for TCC. Her bladder was loaded with stones! We had stopped the pH testing, believing that the C/D was doing its job. Once again, it was struvite, so again no surgery and another 30 days of successful stone dissolving diet. But now what?
The Rider(s) - Obviously the horse was in trouble and we could no longer stay the course. Faced with the option of trying a second prescription food, adding DL Methionine or a similar medical treatment and heading to the vet every few weeks "to make doubly sure", we opted for over-the-counter cranberry capsules. We had heard of this remedy [another interesting word] to keep the urine acidified through discussion on one of the older, smaller, more intimate Scottie e-lists, a list that includes a few sage, experienced-in-many-ways, mostly retired breeders/exhibitors who have been around Scotties for many decades. Heeding their advise and after sharing this information with our vet, we went back to feeding our four struvite-prone Scotties their previous delicious, nutritious kibble as well as their beloved treats now accompanied with a daily dose of two 400-425mg capsules of cranberry. Our dogs have remained stone free. And the battle was won!
And now it's the... THE END
[But for one caveat, one P.S. and one recommended reading!]
Always talk things over with your vet and recognise that vets by law, are required to do things "by the book". Our vet works with us because we work with our vet. 2. As always, if any read has a question or a comment or needs more information, I am available atl firstname.lastname@example.org 3. http://www.marvistavet.com/index.html Open the door titled: "To the Pet Web Library" and there is an excellent list of illustrated, well described medical concerns with topics ranging from Addison's Disease to Zinc Poisoning. The reference for Bladder Stones covers all types and is extraordinarily thorough in everything you need to know. NJA: July '09