My beautiful boy, Jules, has calcium oxalate uroliths (bladder stones). Not so long ago, he was having a chest x-ray to check that his heart, lungs and trachea were ok because he coughs, splutters and sneezes most days. It turns out that all was fine with the chest but, in one of the x-rays, the vet spotted something lower down. She took an x-ray of his abdomen and found a cluster of bladder stones. Oh me! Oh my!
Of course, this information sent me on a flurry of Googling. According to the Bichon Frise Club of America, in order of frequency, the breeds with the highest frequency of calcium oxalate stones are Bichon Frise, Miniature Schnauzer, Shih Tzu, Lhasa Apso, Pomeranian, Cairn Terrier, Yorkshire Terrier, Maltese and Keeshonds. Breeds with the lowest frequency of calcium oxalate stones are German Shorthair Pointers, Great Danes, Rottweilers, Australian Cattle Dogs, Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, Border Collies and Bull Mastiffs. There clearly is a trend here towards small, cute dogs. If you have one, be alert – especially, a male, small, cute dog.
So what to do about this information? As with most uroliths, increasing water consumption for a dog with calcium oxalate stones is vital. Also, decreasing the oxalate in your pet’s diet is considered an important preventative step although it is not as simple as decreasing oxalate because much of the oxalate in a pet’s body is not from the diet but from the natural processing of other nutrients in the diet. Nonetheless, avoiding high oxalate foods is considered important.
So what does this mean for my poor boy? It means no more nuts. It also means no more silverbeet (Swiss chard), beetroot, spinach, sweet potato or beans. Now, there will be cauliflower, peas (poor, poor boy) and cabbage in that big pot. It also means no commercial treats and only specially-formulated commercial food. I feel so mean feeding my baby green things all this time only to find out it is bad for him. (Usually, green things are very good for a dog.)
The next question is: Do we operate to remove them? The “Yes” argument is: there is a risk he will get an infection, have irritation of the bladder wall or, worse still, a stone may block the urethra. Pretty convincing, if you ask me.
The “No” argument is: as a male Bichon, the stones are very likely to recur and the new ones could cause an infection, blockage, etc. He may have had the stones for ages and they haven’t caused him any problems, to date, so why put him through a major operation when he has no symptoms? There is very little calcium oxalate in his urine.
Who would have dogs?
Whatever way we fall, we have to seriously rethink his diet. He is still allowed liver (in moderation) but all commercial treats are out. Chicken is A ok. I began thinking about making dried chicken treats for him but I know that chicken can be quite dangerous if not treated correctly. Of course, I searched the web to find out if anyone else was feeding their dogs dried chicken treats. Several pages into Google, I found this post. The author just dried the chicken and said his dog loved it. I was encouraged so kept reading. I started to come across all the information about dogs dying from dried chicken treats made in China. Basically, the advice was “keep clear of these treats”. If you can’t guarantee they are made in Australia, don’t buy them. Best of all, make them yourself. So this is what I did.
- Cut all fat from the breasts, then semi freeze them.
- When solid enough to cut but not frozen solid, slice the chicken across the grain, as finely as possible.
- Lay the slices on baking paper in your dehydrator. Dry at 45°C until all the moisture is gone and they are leathery/crisp.
- Store in an airtight container resting on absorbent paper. (There may be a little bit of oil on the treats. The paper will absorb it.)
Thankfully, everyone loves the treats.