What is Crystals in the Urine?

Crystalluria is the presence of crystals in the urine. Crystals are concentrates of naturally occurring minerals in your dog’s urine. There are different types of crystals, and they can lead to different types of bladder stones: magnesium ammonium phosphate (struvite), calcium oxalate, ammonium urate or uric acid, cysteine, calcium phosphate, and silica.

Crystals are the building blocks of bladder stones; however, the presence of crystals doesn’t guarantee that bladder stones will develop and crystals may be present in the urine of healthy dogs. Additionally, crystals are a risk factor for kidney stones. Identification of urine crystals is important, as certain types of crystals can indicate certain underlying diseases. Identification can help detect disorders that predispose dogs to develop kidney stones. Certain breeds are more susceptible to certain crystals: Miniature Schnauzers, Yorkshire Terriers, Lhasa Apsos and Miniature Poodles to calcium oxalate; Dachshunds, English Bulldogs and Newfoundlands to cysteine; Dalmations and English Bulldogs to ammonium urate or uric acid; Miniature Schnauzers, Shih Tzus, Bichon Frises, Miniature Poodles, Cocker Spaniels and Lhasa Apsos to struvite crystals.

Symptoms of Crystals in the Urine in Dogs

In many cases, your pet will not exhibit any symptoms of crystals in the urine. However, you may see the following symptoms of bladder stones, if crystals have advanced into stones:

  • Frequent urination
  • Trouble urinating
  • Irregular urine stream
  • Increased thirst
Types

Different types of crystals can form from different mineral concentrations. Types of urine crystals include:

  • Magnesium ammonium phosphate (struvite)
  • Calcium oxalate
  • Ammonium urate, or uric acide
  • Cysteine
  • Calcium Phosphate
  • Silica

Causes of Crystals in the Urine in Dogs

Crystals in dog’s urine may be caused by one of the following:

  • A diet of highly processed dog food, and/or foods high in grains and other fillers.
  • Timing of sample collection; for instance, a sample taken after a meal may have higher concentrations than a sample taken during fasting.
  • Imbalanced urine pH.
  • Abnormal concentrations of certain minerals in urine, which can be caused by changes in rate of excretion and urine concentration.
  • Lack of solubility of crystallogenic substances in the urine, or the inability of the minerals that form crystals to dissolve in urine causes them to form.
  • Excretion of diagnostic agents and medications that can affect mineral concentrations in urine.

Diagnosis of Crystals in the Urine in Dogs

Presence of crystals will be determined by a urinalysis. Your dog’s urine will be tested for its pH and the mineral content will be analyzed. Additionally, samples will be viewed under microscope in order to confirm the type of crystals in your dog’s urine. If stones are suspected, an x-ray or ultrasound may also be performed in order to detect stones.

Treatment of Crystals in the Urine in Dogs

The presence of crystals in your dog’s urine does not necessarily mean your dog needs medical treatment. Crystals in dog’s urine are a normal part of your dog’s metabolism. However, crystals can form blockages and lead to stones. The veterinarian will determine if your dog needs medical treatment. In some cases, this requires adjusting the pH of your dog’s urine. For instance, struvite crystals are managed by making the urine more acidic, and calcium oxalate crystals are managed by making the urine more alkaline. The pH is adjusted through prescription diet. In all cases, increasing your dog’s consumption of water in order to increase urine volume is recommended. Many prescription diets contained added sodium to increase thirst.

Recovery of Crystals in the Urine in Dogs

Follow the veterinarian’s recommendation for your dog’s diet. Closely monitor your dog for the development of kidney stones. Take your dog back to the veterinarian when recommended in order to monitor the presence and/or levels of crystals in your dog’s urine. In the case of pH management, obtain strips to test the pH level of your dog’s urine at home, in order to monitor the success of the prescription diet. Most importantly, make sure plentiful, clean water is always available to your dog.

Cost of Crystals in the Urine in Dogs

Crystals in the Urine can be an expensive treatment in dogs and can range from $300.00 to $3500.00 depending on the cost of living and severity of your Dog's crystals in the urine. On average, the national cost of treating crystals in the urine in dogs is $1000.00.

Crystals in the Urine in Dogs Treatment Advice

Crystals in the Urine Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Brutus
Doberman Pinscher
5 Years
Moderate condition
1 found this not helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Painful Urination

I have a 5 year old Doberman Rescue. My dog is acting fine, but the last couple days it seems like he is having trouble urinating. He does urinate, but he continues to keep trying. He doesn't seem to be in any pain, there is no crying or yelping. He is currently on antibiotics for another situation (he is just getting over a skin infection). He is on a grain free diet (4 Health). I add eggs, carrots and string beans to his food, and he gets Coconut oil in his food.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
743 Recommendations

Urinary problems may be caused by urinary stones, infection, prostate issues or an external tumour pressing down on the urethra. Identification of the primary cause is important to determine the treatment. Due to the other health problems (the reason for the grain free diet etc…) a thorough examination (maybe including urinalysis and x-rays) will be needed to come to a diagnosis. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Hey I have a 5 yr old goldendoodle. She was having stomach problems and about 3 weeks ago I switched food to Health Extension, right before switching the vet suggested the change of food. They also noticed she had a urinary tract infection because I noticed some blood when going to the bathroom. They gave her an injection and just got urine tested again.. they stated she has crystals in her urine and i would have to use their prescription food forever in order for her not to get stones and had surgery. I agreed to using food to break up cyrstals for one month but don't want to continue to use food.. not the best ingredients what do you suggest

I want to know the same thing and why is this question not being answered and the others are? We need options and no one seems to want to help us, vets just keep saying "feed this food" which is full of corn, byproduct and fat.

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Maddie
Yellow lab
11 Years
Moderate condition
0 found this not helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Licking at Genitals

My dog has some crystals in her urine. The only systems she has it that she has been licking her back side and pee pee until they have become sore and raw. We have been back to the vet 4 times in the last 4 weeks and today is when they tested her urine. I was given a topical, pill for pain and an antibiotic. I'm not quite sure we're on the right path. What are your thoughts.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
743 Recommendations

Treatment for a condition like Maddie’s is two fold; one is to treat the symptoms caused by licking the vulva and the other is to treat the underlying cause of the crystals in the urine, which would be dependent on the type of crystals in the urine. Your Veterinarian may want to change Maddie’s diet and to check that the irritation of the vulva by the crystals is resolved or managed. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Rambo
Chihuahua pekingese miniature poodle
7
Serious condition
0 found this not helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Frequent Urination
Blood In Urine
calcium oxalate crystals
Acidic urine
trouble urinating

Hello,
We have been trying to help our dog for more than 2 years. Our chihuahua/pekingese/miniature poodle mix has been diagnosed with calcium oxalate crystals that we discovered after noticing blood in his urine, frequent, and troubled urination and a very visit. Following x-rays and urinalysis, we found he had a mass that was obstructing urination and had successful surgery to remove the mass (his bleeding was caused by a piece of the crystal breaking off during urination). We now test his urine frequently with ph strips after changing his diet to vet prescribed food to increase alkalinity: Urinary SO Royal K9 soft and solid dog food and now hydrochlothiazid pills...after the food on its own did not achieve alkaline. He is no longer allowed to have any treats at all. We also tried Hills u/d solid food. We increased his pills from 1/2 a pill to 1 full pill per day. His urine is still slightly acidic and the vet said he is still developing small crystals. 2 different vets said they have no other options for us because increasing his prescription pills could negatively impact his organs and there are no other food options. We do not want him to have to go through another surgery or develop kidney stones. Please help. Any ideas and suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
743 Recommendations

There are a few different reasons why calcium oxalate crystals may occur in the urinary tract these include absorptive hypercalciuria, renal leak hypercalciuria or resorptive hypercalciuria; unfortunately the cause of the crystals doesn’t affect the treatment. Treatment usually consists of dietary changes to a diet that is low oxalate, low protein and low sodium; potassium citrate may be added to the diet to help raise the pH up towards 6.5 – 7.5. If you use potassium citrate, I would recommend making daily checks of Rambo’s urine to ensure that it stays within the pH range. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Lucy
Shih Tzu
6 Months
Fair condition
0 found this not helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

None

Lucy is towards the end of her first menstruacion cycle and is wearing diapers, I took off her used diaper to find yellow colored "crystals" she doesn't seem to being acting strange or show any symptoms. She loves water, eats her food just fine and has no trouble urinating. I'm not sure what to do

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
743 Recommendations

The crystals would form when the urine in contact with her skin dried leaving behind the crystals. You would need to take Lucy to see her Veterinarian to determine the type of crystals and to seek dietary changes and possibly supplements to change the pH of the urine. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Mochi
Miniature Schnauzer
6 Years
Fair condition
0 found this not helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

None

My dog Mochi was in boarding, and after some tests, we found out she had lyme disease. She is beginning medication (antibiotics for it) today. As well as tests for Lyme disease, they conducted senior dog tests on her and noticed crystals in her urine. She has been on the same dog food for all her life but also has a very sensitive stomach. A few months ago, we did have a scare when she ate an entire package of dark chocolate, and then threw it all up. Is the crystals just old age or does it have something to do with the Lyme disease or chocolate?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
743 Recommendations

The crystals in the urine wouldn’t be related to the chocolate poisoning incident or the lyme disease but to Mochi’s own physiology due to her diet; changing her diet taking into account her sensitive stomach would be best, also depending on the type of crystals present, dietary supplements to change the pH of the urine and to help dissolve any crystals would be beneficial. Your Veterinarian will be able to advise changes in diet and the use of dietary supplements for you. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Nora
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
7
Moderate condition
1 found this not helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

UTI
Struvite Crystals

Medication Used

Glucosamine
Amoxicillin

I brought my 7 year old Corgi to the vet because she was having urinating issues. My vet tested her urine and said she has crystals and a UTI. We put her on antibiotics and on the Hills Science Diet C/D food. A month before my 7 year old male Boxer had the same issue and we resolved it the same way. I normally feed my dogs NUTRO Limited Ingredient Diet Small Bites Adult Dog Food, they have been on it for 6 years. Our vet suggested keeping them on the C/D diet permanently, which i do not want to do since outside of the help to remove struvites, it has terrible ingredients that I do not want in their food, such as corn and gluten, and my corgi is food sensitive.

Outside of their food, my dogs get Nutro limited ingredient treats only and my corgi takes Nutramax Cosequin Maximum Strength (DS) Plus MSM tablets every day. My male boxer takes Fluoxetine 20mg daily for anxiety.

Could it be the water of my house that is causing it? My vet says it is strictly diet, so do you have any suggestions as to what to change their food to? I can't imagine their limited diet food has much in it to cause the issue. Is there a supplement I can add to help reduce crystal risk? I am at a loss to what to change it to. I want their food to be limited diet, without gluten or corn, but to not give them crystals, if the food is indeed what is causing it. Help!

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
743 Recommendations

Whilst many people have problems with corn and gluten in their pet’s diet, unless you have an Irish Setter with a genetic predisposition, dogs are usually OK with it in their diet; dogs generally have more problems with other ingredients than corn. I would recommend keeping on the c/d diet since there is an improvement in symptoms, despite your reservations about the ingredients you need to see the benefits the diet has for your dogs; however, depending on your location there may be local or region dog food producers which may make a suitable diet low in phosphate and magnesium which will also promote acidic urine which may be more beneficial for your specific needs. Struvite stones usually form due to the presence of infection (not because of drinking water), so regular monitoring would be important. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Kiva
Cocker Spaniel
8 Years
Moderate condition
0 found this not helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Pees a lot

Kiva has been to a Vet. and had the x-ray, blood tests and urinalysis. The vet. said she has struvite crystals in her urine with a ph of 8.0. She also had an e.coli infection. Kiva was given an injection of an antibiotic (convenia) that would last for 2 wks. Also I was advised to put her on the Royal Canon C/D or SO food to help lower her ph level. The problem is Kiva is very allergic to all grains which the C/D or SO has so I'm trying to find a food she can have that will help. Does the protein level in the food make a difference? Her current food (Taste of the Wild) is 32% and a food she had before(Acana) is 29%, which we were going to get for her again. Maybe this isn't enough of a change in protein %. I was also looking at the Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet food that only has 21% protein. The Royal Canin is 14% protein.
I could use any advise or help as I'm not getting much from the Vet. I am giving Kiva 1 tablet a day of Cranberry D-Mannose for dogs (urinary tract support) in hopes of lowering her ph. I will be testing her urine every 3 days with ph strips. Thank you very much,
Kathy

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
743 Recommendations

Many people believe that their dog is allergic to grains (which Kiva may be), but it is more likely to have been a different ingredient in previous food. There are many different types of dog food, but the commercially available everywhere dog foods like Royal Canin and Hills have grains in their urinary diets; there are other producers of dog feed on a regional level which would depend on your location which may be able to help. The reduction of protein in the diet is important as protein by products increase the pH of urine. Supplementation with acetohydroxamic acid at a dose of 12.5 mg/kg twice per day may help too. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Charlie
Shitzu
9
Mild condition
0 found this not helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Licking
licking

Hi I have a 9yr old boy shitzu and one day I saw him bleeding and took him to the Vet did and urine test and came back showing crystal. Blood stop but he is licking like crazy. The vet already prescribe antibiotics and suggested doing x-ray. Do you think the X-ray is necessary or should we see how the week goes and if the licking stops. He also eat Hill Science diet d/d sensitive stomach is normal food.
What should I do.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
743 Recommendations

Your Veterinarian would want to perform an x-ray to see if there are any stones formed in the urinary tract which may be causing the bleeding whilst urinating. The crystals can cause irritation to the skin of the prepuce (foreskin) leading a dog to lick excessively, an Elizabethan collar may help with that as the more a dog licks, it gets more irritated leading to more licking. A dietary change may be required along with supplements depending on the type of crystals found in the urine. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Thank you for your help. Charlie is already on a HILL SCIENCE DIET D/D SENATIVE and I just started using probiotics to help him. We are on day three on his medication Zeniquin 14 days prescription. Should we do the xray after the medication is complete to confirm that the crystal are gone. Can you recommend a new food for my dog he is very sensitive.

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Daisy
English bulldog
7 Years
Fair condition
0 found this not helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

No urination

Medication Used

none at this time

My English Bulldog turned 7 yrs old 2 days ago... She had crystals a couple of years ago... and it cleared up after using a special formulated kibble. But the situation now is that today, she will not go out to urinate... When she had crystals, it irritated her and she wanted out constantly.... but today, she went all night and now all day, without going outside.. She does not seem uncomfortable... she is not drinking, and she is not eating... but seems to be just fine.... However.. NOT urinating for approx 20 hours now, has me concerned. I had her ready to go outside.. but she refused to even go out of the door.... Is there ANY WAY that this is a sign of crystals? [the vet we use now said she had a bladder infection because of some blood in her urine several weeks ago.... but I was used to her having Bladder infections, and a round of Antibiotics seemed to clear up the problem completely... But the vet also mentioned the possibility of crystals being the cause [but she appears to have no symptoms that I can tell.] ... She finished the antibiotics approx 1 week ago.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
743 Recommendations

There are a few different causes for no urination in dogs, but normally we would see a desire from the dog to at least to try and strain to urinate. Infections, crystals, stones, tumours, spinal disorders, neurological disorders etc… are all possible causes of an inability to urinate. I would take Daisy in to be examined, catheterised and possibly to have an x-ray or ultrasound performed to see if there is anything which may be causing this. I am more concerned with her not wanting to urinate at all. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Reuben
Pug
6 Years
Mild condition
0 found this not helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Not eating
Dark Urine

Medication Used

Clavamox antibiotic- oral

A few weeks ago we noticed my 6 yr old pug had high sodium levels in his bloodwork. We switched him to a different food, from dry to wet, after learning this. Turns out he as crystals in his urine. He is now taking the antibiotic Clavomax 2x/day. However, he is scheduled to be neutered tomorrow! Is it safe to proceed with the procedure during all this?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
743 Recommendations

Any surgery would be dependant on a preanesthetic physical examination, the decision to operate would be theirs; they would be aware of the treatment and the upcoming surgery. There shouldn’t be any cause for alarm with the neutering, it is a simple procedure over in minutes and will help prevent possible problems in the future. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Pickles
lhasa apso
12 Years
Mild condition
1 found this not helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Blood in Urine
Frequent Urination

My 12 yr old Lhasa-poo has crystals in her urine and has exhibited blood when urinating. We've done the antibiotics and changed her diet to hill for urinary health. She's been eating it for a week and today she has blood again in her urine. How long before symptoms will disappear?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
743 Recommendations

The type of crystals are important, some crystals can be dealt with easier than others; dietary changes can take time depending on the type of crystals and the underlying health of the urinary tract. Some types of crystals respond quicker to supplements, ask your Veterinarian if Pickles’ crystals would be able to be dissolved faster with a supplement. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

I will be visiting out vet tomorrow and will ask about the supplements. Thank you.

BTW...SHE HAD STRUVITE CRYSTALS.

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pepper
Pug
4 Months
Mild condition
0 found this not helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

fussy eater
Crystals

My puppy refuses to eat dog food-the people we got her from fed her 'people food' from a young age. I have tried 4legs, single protein puppy loaf, blackhawk and ivory coat to no avail. So i have been feeding her chicken or kangaroo with brown rice, carrot and peas. She seems well however she has urinated on the concrete a few times recently and it has left a spakly stain which has me concerned that something may be wrong. Any advice?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
743 Recommendations

It can be difficult to wean a dog from human food to a suitable canine food, just like trying to get a toddler to eat food instead of treats. It may be a case of having to gradually wean Pepper over to dog food by making 90%:10%; 80%:20% etc… mixes or by moving to a wet dog food then to a kibble gradually; in severe cases it may be a case of giving her no option but to eat the food, it may be harsh but best in the long term. As for the possibility of crystals in the urine; it would be best to ask your Veterinarian’s office for a sterile specimen cup and to get a sample to be checked (crystals, protein, glucose etc…) and to go from there. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Crystals in the Urine in Dogs Treatment Experiences

Coco
Boxer
8 Years

Has Symptoms

Straining To Urinate

Coco is generally a healthy dog that loves to play and has lots of energy. I noticed when I take her for a walk she has begun to have a difficult time urinating. It surprised me because she has been extremely thirsty lately. A neighbor told me that maybe something is wrong health wise and to contact the vet as soon as possible. I made an appointment and the vet did a urinalysis which showed crystals in Coco’s urine. I got scared but the doctor said this is part of a dog’s metabolism or something like that and it was caused from her diet. The vet said she’s lucky that the crystals in her urine didn’t cause any blockages. I have to feed her a special diet now and give her lots of water. I consider Coco and myself lucky since I heard that treatment for this problem can run more than $800.

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The statements expressed are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified by your local veterinarian.