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Shih Tzu needs to stick to diet to avoid stones

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Q: My little Shih Tzu could not urinate because he had stones in his bladder. The veterinary hospital that cares for him removed those stones but they are the kind that will return without proper diet so they recommended Hill’s u/d non-struvite dog food. Can I still give him dog treats once in a while?

I am sticking to this diet heart and soul, but he likes his treats every now and then, so is it OK? I do not want those stones to return. He was in a lot of pain.

Dr. Nichol: When crystals in the urinary tract stick together they form stones (calculi). Some get big enough to irritate the bladder wall, leading to blood in the urine, straining, or a medical emergency involving a complete blockage of urine flow.

Prescription diets are important for long-term treatment in many cases but, for them to work effectively, they need to be the only food that a dog like yours gets to eat. There are treats that won’t interfere with a therapeutic diet. Hill’s Prescription Diet Treats are fine for any dog on any special food.

Calcium oxalate bladder stones are a growing problem in pets. According to the Minnesota Urolith Center, they’ve increased to 60 percent of canine bladder stones and 55 percent of those found in cats. Described as an epidemic, oxalates are now the most common urinary stone in each species.

Middle-aged to older neutered male Shih Tzus, miniature schnauzers, Lhasa apsos, and Pomeranians are at greater risk than other dogs for calcium oxalate stones. In bichon fris├ęs it’s the young adult males who have a higher incidence.

Owners of these dogs should be observant; these stones can slowly grow in the bladder, kidneys, the ureters, or urethra. Dogs like yours, who can’t pass urine, need surgery ASAP to prevent severe kidney damage, not to mention the importance of alleviating their pain.

You are certainly doing the right thing by feeding the u/d non-struvite diet that your veterinarian recommended. Post-operatively, pets with a history of calcium oxalate stones need our best efforts at avoiding a reoccurrence. Adding chewable CitraVet tablets can further reduce the chances that your dog will face those miserable bladder stones again.

Dr. Jeff Nichol provides medical care for pets at the Petroglyph Animal Hospital in Albuquerque (898-8874). He treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and in Santa Fe (505-792-5131). Questions? For answers, Like my Facebook page at or by mail to 6633 Caminito Coors NW, Albuquerque, NM 87120.