It’s a scary experience to rush your pet to the vet because they cannot urinate. The thoughts of, “Will they need surgery?” and “Are they going to make it?” flash through your head. It’s important to know what kind of dietary and supplemental options are on the market to help keep your pet’s bladder and urinary tract healthy. It’s quite common for dogs and cats -- especially ones that are neutered -- to experience urinary and bladder infections. According to Dr. Chris Bessent, veterinarian and founder of Herbsmith Inc., they may experience crystals in the urine and recurrent bladder infections, as well as the incidence of bladder stones.
But how do pet owners know when their dogs or cats are struggling with bladder or urinary tract infections? Pets with these infections exhibit symptoms such as straining or messing in the house, said Dr. Jim Work, a veterinarian from Greenfield, Wisc. However, Dr. Work pointed out that just because an animal is messing in the house does not mean they have an infection. Bringing the animal into the vet to do a urine test is necessary to unearth the true cause.
A pet with a bladder or urinary infection may also exhibit blood in their urine. In severe cases, your dog or cat may appear listless, inactive, and may even show signs of pain and moaning. The unfortunate side of bladder and urinary tract infections is that there is no conclusive proof to show reason for these crystals in the urine and inflammation in the bladder. “Holistic veterinarians speculate that it’s from high-carbohydrate diets,” Dr. Bessent said.
Chinese food energetics emphasize the idea, “you are what you eat.” High-grain carbohydrate diets are speculated to promote inflammation in the bladder and play a role in the occurrence of crystals in the urine, creating what Chinese theorists would call “damp heat,” Dr. Bessent said. From a Western perspective, damp heat is equivalent to this inflammation as well as changes in the pH of the urine. According to Dr. Bessent, dogs originally lived as scavenger carnivores. Holistic veterinarians concur that high-grain diets are not the optimal choice for cats or dogs. Luckily, there are steps pet owners can take to attempt to ward off bladder and urinary tract infections. On the holistic side, Dr. Bessent recommends dogs are given plenty of water as well as a low-carbohydrate diet. This kind of diet is also recommended for cats, as well as adding moist food to their diet. A raw-food diet is another alternative for people seeking a low-grain diet for their pets.
For those coming from a Western perspective or who are nervous feeding raw diets, it is important to choose the correct food for your pet. According to Dr. Work, the key
to bladder and urinary health is good nutrition. Dr. Work recommends feeding only the premium fixed-diet foods. Additionally, prescription diets can be helpful, but Dr.
Bessent said they may not be sustainable long-term and supplements could be needed.
For pets that experience bladder and urinary issues, a supportive supplement is especially beneficial. A form of herb called dianthus is especially helpful in treating painful and difficult urination, in addition to D-Mannose and cranberries. Cranberry extract is essential for urinary health. Cranberries are acidic and contain bacteria-blocking compounds that are helpful in preventing urinary tract infections.
They decrease the ability for bacteria to adhere to the bladder wall so that pets are able to push the bacteria out of their system. D-Mannose is a simple sugar that works in
a similar way to cranberries by also decreasing the ability for bacteria to adhere to the bladder wall. Gardenia and licorice are also important ingredients in a bladder and urinary supplement because they have a cooling nature, which Chinese theory considers
beneficial to treating the damp heat in the bladder. Place your pet’s diet as a top priority when considering bladder and urinary health, and remember there are herbal remedies available to help your pet feel more comfortable so that you in turn can rest at ease.
SHANNON VENEGAS is a freelance writer from Mukwonago, Wisconsin. Shannon graduated from Mount Mary College with a degree in writing.