"Oxalate nephropathy in Tibetan Terriers

"Oxalate nephropathy in Tibetan Terriers

Health & Safety

Many dog breeds can suffer from urinary and kidney stones with both male and female dogs being just as risk. With this said in most cases the calcium oxalate uroliths are what is referred to as nephroliths which in short, means they develop in a dog’s kidneys. Research has also established that male dogs more especially small breeds are the most at risk of suffering from the condition and all too often vets as well as owners find that oxalate nephropathy is a frustrating health issue that can prove challenging to treat.

Why dogs develop calcium oxalate stones

Dogs have small amounts of calcium oxalate that is found in the urine all the time. The problems start when there is a high level of it found in their urine which then leads to crystals forming in layers that then become stones. However, why the crystals form and what makes them form is not very well understood although when it comes to dogs, studies have found that the stones that from are highly acidic.

There is some belief there could be a genetic link as to why some dogs develop calcium oxalate kidney stones although more research is needed to establish if this is the case. Vets also believe that diet plays a key role and have seen a higher number of dogs suffering from the condition which includes Tibetan Terriers.

Signs to watch out for

The signs of there being something wrong with a dog would differ from dog to dog and would depend on where the stones have formed, whether it is both in their bladder and kidneys or one or the other. However, the symptoms commonly associated with the condition could include the following:

  • A dog passes less urine each time they go to the toilet
  • They stand or squat for a longer time as they try to pass urine
  • Dogs need to go to the toilet more frequently
  • Excessive licking at their genitals
  • The last drops of urine are pinkish in colour which is an indication of blood being present

Other breeds at risk

As previously mentioned, the condition seems to affect smaller and toy breeds more than other larger breeds. The breeds most affected by oxalate stones apart from the Tibetan Terrier includes the following:

  • Bichon Frise
  • Miniature Schnauzer
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Shih Tzu
  • Pomeranian
  • Cairn Terrier
  • Yorkshire Terrier
  • Maltese
  • Keeshond

Diagnosing the condition

A vet would need to have a dog’s full medical history before examining them which they would do by gently palpitating and probing a dog’s abdomen and bladder. They would want to carry out the following tests to confirm their suspicions:

  • X-rays of a dog’s abdomen
  • A urinalysis
  • A full blood count

Treatment options

When it comes to treatment options, it is not possible to dissolve calcium oxalate stones and as such, in the best-case scenario a vet might be able to remove them non-surgically which is a procedure known as urohydropropulsion. If this is unsuccessful, a vet would need to remove the stones surgically under general anaesthetic. There are other treatment options which includes laser surgery, but it is very expensive. With this said, when the stones have formed in a dog’s kidneys, very often a vet might not want to surgically remove them because of the damage the procedure causes to the kidneys.

The other thing to bear in mind is that all too often a dog that is predisposed to developing oxalate stones, could well have them develop again even after they have undergone the surgery to remove them.

Caring for a dog after treatment

Dogs need a lot of palliative care once they have been treated for calcium oxalate stones and would need to see a vet on a regular basis so that tests can be carried out to make sure their urine is normal. Dogs need to have free access to good, clean water at all times and a vet might recommend altering their diet with an end goal being to help keep the pH balance in a dog’s urine at acceptable and healthy levels. It is also important to feed a dog smaller amounts more often rather than feeding them fewer larger meals a day which also helps keep the pH balance healthier.

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