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Podcast 22 – Waving Goodbye to Bladder Stones With Raw

In this episode, Rowan is joined once again by the wonderful Wendy and together they try to break down those dreaded bladder stones! What’s the cause? What’s the cure? Let’s get to the bottom of these bladder baddies and see if we can rid them from our dogs lives once and for all! Join the conversation on Instagram and Twitter @BellaAndDuke and make sure to join our growing Facebook community! – https://www.facebook.com/groups/bella…  

0:20 Rowan Intro 2:00 Topic Intro 2:19 Are bladder stones common? 2:45 Wendy Story 5:26 Kismet in Heat 7:20 Topic Breakdown 7:50 What are bladder stones? 9:30 Is it an inflammatory response? 11:28 Calcium Oxalate Crystals 11:44 Bladder Damage 13:45 Digest Vs Metabolise 14:20 Urine crystals 15:37 Overview (So far!) 17:08 S/C/U 18:36 How to cure and prevent? 20:43 Symptom Recap 22:10 Don’t just treat, prevent! 22:48 Causes 24:38 Does dry food increase risk? 26:50 Does raw food prevent stones? 28:24 Is stress a factor? 29:28 Moist over dry? 31:24 Human Research 32:11 Gout 33:20 Acidifying Urine 35:07 Recap Final 37:44 Kismet Vs Cats 38:42 Bye Bye

Rowan:           OK, Wendy, we are recording. Wendy McGrandles, welcome back, by popular demand.

Wendy:          Thank you so much. Yes, this is getting to become a habit Rowan.

Rowan:          It is a more positive habit to form. I really enjoy it.

Wendy:          Yes. No, I must admit it’s excellent. Absolutely, excellent.

Rowan:          You are like my morning coffee.

Wendy:          Bittersweet.

Rowan:          No, there’s no sweeteners in my coffee. No, no, you don’t know me at all. Wendy, you’ve gone instantly off piste. I’m just going to get this microphone here. Now, question for you… In fact Wendy you need no intro.

Wendy:          OK.

Rowan:          You need no intro and anybody who’s not aware of who Wendy is — Wendy McGrandles our awesome holistic vet who we have the luxury of working with then go and Google her. Where would they Google you, Wendy?

Wendy:          Glenbrae Vet Clinics. In fact…

Rowan:          Glenbrae.

Wendy:          — could they just, well, they don’t need to wait a month, but I’m about to put a new website up, well about maybe in six weeks.

Rowan:          Isn’t everybody?

Wendy:          Yes, but ours is going to be so whizzy and so holistic. You know holistic that wonderful word that a lot of people don’t understand. So it’s going to be good. But they can still Google me, “Glenbrae Vet Clinics.” That’s me. That’s where I am.

Rowan:          Awesome, awesome. Is it going to be made with essential oils?

Wendy:          Well who knows. . . . [inaudible][01:51] and switch it off.

Rowan:          Perfect. Like a giant generator of positivity. So without further ado, I believe this week we again to cover bladder stones?

Wendy:          Why not? Why not. [laughter]

Rowan:          Oh you sound enthused.

Wendy:          Why not. Well yes. I think we should because, are they common? Not particularly. I don’t have stats on percentages, I mean they’re not, that common, but I think they’re so relevant to this whole dietary issue and that’s the most important thing. And they’re extremely relevant to the health of your patient, obviously. But they’re also very very painful. Can I tell you a funny story?

Rowan:          Always.

Wendy:          Can I tell you a little anecdote? You see this is what happens when you’re as long in the tooth as me, you build up this whole armory of anecdotes. Anyway, I remember many moons ago when I worked in Ireland, my first job, a little Westie, walked into the surgery with its owner and the presenting signs was this dog just peed all the time, but just little drops, dribbles and there was a bit of blood in the urine as well. And I have to say that apparently, it had been going on for months and months and months and months this. I put the dog on the table and I palpated its bladder and I come from the era prior to scans and ultrasounds and things like that and we were taught to use our hands. Don’t get me wrong, we did have x-rays, just.

But I could feel this huge lump in this dog’s bladder and it was a youngish dog, so I thought, well, it’s less likely to be a tumor. But to cut a long story really, really short, this dog had the biggest bladder stone I have ever seen in my life, it occupied the entire capacity of the bladder, urine had nowhere to be, it literally could only have held about a mil of urine in its bladder. So hence the reason it had to pee all the time.

Rowan:          Wow. Wow. I kind of question mark and I will do this backwards so it’s the right way, whether that’s a funny story?

Wendy:          It was certainly very relieving for the dog. I think the funny part of it was that it taken so long to get a diagnosis…

Rowan:          Oh my goodness.

Wendy:          — so long to deal with it, that was the not funny bit. I mean it was dealt with thankfully by surgery because by that stage that is your only option. I mean, it had a humongous bladder stone. And the poor dog I think just had a smile on his face after that because it could then urinate properly.

Rowan:          Yeah. I know, I’m almost empathizing with relief. Was it almost like the dog in Snatch that swallows that enormous diamond?

Wendy:          Similar, but other end.

Rowan:          Roger Dodger. OK. So before we dive into this and we start lifting up the hood, because I appreciate you say you don’t know how common it is or it’s not that common. There’s two things I think we should mention is that quite a few people on the group, our Facebook group, Bella and Duke have asked about this. And I was quite surprised because, I’m new to the dog world, shall we say, I have owned a dog a while ago, not for very long. And then obviously Kismet’s come into my life and improved my life immensely. Thank you Kismet.

Wendy:          I believe, are you coping? [laughter]

That’s what most people say.

Rowan:          Do you know, I’d love to be really upbeat about this and laugh it off with a witty one liner, poor Kismet, poor Rowan. I am constantly moving rocks around the garden to try and block bits in the fence as three hungry, horny waggy farm dogs from next door keep coming around to cruise some little in-season dog. See, I watched my language there, I didn’t say anything inappropriate.

Wendy:          Very good. You’ll survive.

Rowan:          Yeah, absolutely. I will. It’s natural. It happens all the time. She’s been super cute. She’s been almost a little bit clingy, I think with it being a first time. She’s like, what’s going on and why are we not going to the beach or going out for walks.

Wendy:          Yeah, it restricts them unfortunately, absolutely. It’s natural. You’re dead right, it’s natural to come into season; however, the not natural bit it not getting pregnant.

Rowan:          Yes.

Wendy:          In the wild, they come into season, they get pregnant, they have a litter, that’s natural, not always conducive to health having said that. But just remember that we’re not just… Natural’s an interesting one.

Wendy:          Yes, taken on board. Teenage pregnancies are a no Kismet, don’t listen to Wendy and you’re not in the wild.

Wendy:          Exactly.

Rowan:          Fact. Not the way you lord it around.

Wendy:          Bladder stones.

Rowan:          So bladder stones. Shall we just cover quickly what bladder stones are and then there’s three main types which you were educating me on, which I’d love to know more about and then maybe we could have a little deep dive on how people could potentially manage the risks and dealing with them. How about that? I love a little bit of structure.

Wendy:          That’s about a lecture in itself. Yeah, absolutely.

Rowan:          OK.

Wendy:          Basically what happens is that crystals, little crystals form in the urine before the stones form. Because the stones are really formed from these crystals and it’s when the crystals join together that you get the actual bladder stones and the posh word for that is uroliths and the disease is called urolithiasis. It’s just in case you see it. I mean I’m not trying to bombard you with medical terms or anything else.

Rowan:          No, no I like it. I grew up on Asterix and I believe Obelix used to carry one of those around all the time. [laughter]

Wendy:          Right. OK. I’m trying to be serious.

Rowan:          Sorry.

Wendy:          So there’s different types of crystals that can make up a bladder stone. If we just talk about the common ones and the most common one is called struvite and I’ll expand on that. Triple . . . [inaudible][08:30] phosphate is again the makeup of it, but I’ll expand on that because that is the most common one. But you also get calcium andoxalate crystals, which form calcium oxalate stones and you get uric crystals as well. So you get different types of crystals. So often the crystals have to have some sort of infection present in the bladder or rather buildup of bacteria. And that’s obviously where we can talk about diet, etc. But particularly struvite, struvite crystals don’t form unless you have bacteria as well. Because what happens is these crystals all like come together, they coalesce as we say, and then bacteria lump on top of that and then some more crystals lump on top of that as well. So you’ve usually got some form of UTI — urinary tract infection — going on in the background.

Rowan:          Can I ask a question at this point, so I just don’t understand as we go along? And this is to continue with the flow rather than ever interruptive, no urine puns involved. When you say normally needs a little bit of bacteria to kind of act as a glue to bring all of these together, is that because there’s an inflammatory response going on in the body?

Wendy:          Of course, absolutely. There’s an inflammatory response full stop going on. But if you think about urine, urine is not sterile. You’ll get a few bugs floating around, some of them by ascending infection in females. If you think about your female dod, they squat, so if you like, their vulva is literally millimeters off the ground, so just bacteria are going to be on the lips of the vulva, they’re going to migrate up the tract etc. So once again, if the animal is in any way immunocompromised, either by disease or by diet or poor diet or other types of diets, then you will certainly have increasing bacterial cultures in that urine. So struvite need urinary tract infections, they need bacteria, now this is dogs only I’m talking about. Cats that are a whole different ballgame here again.

Rowan:          Oh this is good, this is good stuff Wendy.

Wendy:          Cats are not small dogs as I keep emphasizing every single week. Every single week. Cats are not small dogs. OK?

Rowan:          I want you to know that you don’t look remotely jaded by that. [laughter]

Wendy:          I was going to say it’s Friday, but it’s actually not Friday. It feels like Friday OK.

Rowan:          Feels like it should be.

Wendy:          Feels like it should be Friday, let’s just stick to this is Friday, OK. So struvite crystals are much more common in females for that part reason, that UTIs are more common in females as well. So struvites, females need bacteria, etc., etc., etc., to form. That’s one kind.

So calcium oxalate crystals, however, they’re more commonly seen in un-neutered males. Still entire males. Now, I don’t know enough of the background to this. But that’s the current thinking that calcium oxalate crystals more commonly occur in un-neutered meals. Calcium oxalates are quite nasty little stones when they actually form, because they’re quite sharp, and this is one of the problems. Most of the male crystals are not nice smooth round stones. They form like spiky. Are you old enough to have played that game Rowan as a child, was it pickup sticks or pick up jack sticks?

Rowan:          Oh yeah.

Wendy:          Did you?

Rowan:          Yes I used to do and pickup jacks as well.

Wendy:          They are kind of spiky things.

Rowan:          Yeah.

Wendy:          Right. Well, not spiky but they’ve got wee finger like projections. Well that’s exactly what calcium oxalate can look like.

Rowan:          OK, so they look like the things you round canary wharf to stop people in vans with explosives driving in?

Wendy:          Yeah, uhuh, they can do. So you can imagine what they do to the bladder.

Rowan:          Angry plumbers.

Wendy:          Something like that. The lining of the bladder… I worked in Ireland, you have to remember, I know all about those things. So the lining of bladder can get really badly damaged by… Had that little Westie that I was talking about earlier being a male with calcium oxalate, its bladder would have been ripped to shreds. However, luckily struvites tend to be smooth and to be like pebbles on the beach sort of thing washed by urine and they’re smooth.

Rowan:          Interesting, interesting.

Wendy:          The other problem we have is there’s some genetics here, because some dogs are born unable to metabolize just certain protein components, because they have a gene missing.

Rowan:          Do we know what kind of protein components those are?

Wendy:          Don’t Be ridiculous. I would have had to do more research.

Rowan:          OK.

Wendy:          I’ll find out for you, no I will take a note of that on my script here and I will find that out, what protein. I don’t know off the top of my head, have to be honest, but I can find out.

Rowan:          We are obviously for people listening and trying to keep up with your wealth of knowledge, there’s a big difference between digest and metabolize. One is break it down. Then we have . . . [13:54] which is basically bringing it into the body as part of the body and then metabolize it is basically how we make it part of us and get rid of bits we don’t want.

Wendy:          Yeah, so if you have a gene missing, which some of these breeds have…

Rowan:          Which most of us have frankly.

Wendy:          We are prone to urate crystals. The main breeds that we see with this problem are Dalmatians, I hate to see are the number one and English Bulldogs. They can also, interesting, and this will come back to what you were saying about metabolizing, and I apologize that this starts to get a bit bogged down and kind of complicated. But urate crystals can also be seen in puppies of any breed that has a thing called a portosystemic shunt. That’s when the liver has not been been hard wired properly, when the plumbing system, i.e. the blood vessels enter the liver at the wrong place, you get a thing called a portosystemic shunt, and that means that metabolism is faulty and protein metabolism is faulty and urate crystals can be seen in those puppies.

Rowan:          OK. So I’m guessing that refers to the hepatic portal vein between the gut and the liver?

Wendy:          Right, right. So without getting too deep into the whole anatomy of the whole thing. It’s not a common condition portosystemic shunts are not common, but it doesn’t need to be a Dalmatian on an English bulldog, I hate to say it for that to happen.

Rowan:          So if we just look at our overview, we’ve got struvite crystals so far or bladder stones. So the two stones we’ve covered so far are struvite, which are more common in females because they are associated with urinary infections which are by definition more common in females. These generally tend to be more like pebbles on the beach. We also have calcium oxalate crystals, which are a lot sharper they’re like the jacks that we would do pickup jacks with and these are in un-neutered males more prevalent and a couple of breeds and potentially some puppies, all of which might have problems with…

Wendy:          Just to go back. The urate crystals are the breed one. Calcium oxalate are…

Rowan:          Ah sorry, good, this is why we recap.

Wendy:          Calcium oxalates are just in your un-neutered males, urate, U-R-A-T-E, urate crystals they’re you’re…

Rowan:          Urate?

Wendy:          Urate. U-R-A-T-E. Urate. And to be sensible for a minute. Dalmatians and English Bulldogs and that’s the protein one, that’s missing gene one.

Rowan:          OK. Sorry. There was a tiny delay there. So if people were trying to remember this, it’s SCU — and that’s struvite, calcium oxalate and urate.

Wendy:          Spot on.

Rowan:          Cool.

Wendy:          Done.

Rowan:          Loving it. So should we go back then and say — OK, we’ve got an overview on bladder stones and what they are. We’ve got three main types. We know what they correlate to or what they’re associated with. I was interested in, well I’m interested in all of these, but the calcium oxalate, it’s quite interesting. Because from a nutrition perspective, when people have a high oxalic acid diet, and this is what really infuriates me slightly — that’s oxymoronic in itself — about people banging on about raw kale smoothies and all these kinds of things. The amount of people I see who come in and go, my energy’s low. I can’t lose weight. I’ve been having loads of raw kale smoothies. It’s like you’ve totally wrecked your thyroid and basically you’re robbing yourself of nutrients. Why? Because it’s so high in oxalates that they’re binding to a lot of the essential minerals and preventing them being absorbed. And one of the ones that oxalic acid binds to is calcium.

Wendy:          Yep, that’s why it forms those crystals. Yes, absolutely.

Rowan:          Interesting. So what would people do if they find these in their dogs and how do you think we can influence the situation to prevent them or at least minimize the risk?

Wendy:          Again, remembering that we are talking dogs here, because I think we’ll need to do cats on a separate podcast because cats are really interesting with crystals, but anyway that’s aside. I think you’ve got to know, you’ll not see crystal’s, you’ll not see stones. What you see — and this is the important thing — is usually blood in your pet’s urine. So any blood being passed in urine… Now you might not see that if they pee on grass, this is the other slight problem. So sometimes all you might see is the odd drip on the kitchen tiles for instance. So again, it can be a bit difficult to pick this up. But any kind of increased urination, increased frequency, wanting out at night when they don’t want normally, peeing in their bed when they don’t normally. Increased thirst, with quite a few of them they’ll get thirsty if they’ve got anything bladder wise, because let’s face it that’s the body trying to sort it out itself, it’s trying to flush it all through.

So the long and short of it is that you might not always see the blood in the urine. Although if you do that is something that must be addressed straight away. One very useful thing to do by the way guys, and this is something that would make my life much easier, is bring a urine sample. Bring a urine sample with you. Collect a urine sample from your pet. It’s not as difficult as it sounds and yes, I do appreciate bitches, female dogs are not so keen to part when you’re anywhere near them, but first thing in the morning, try and get it, creep around quietly behind them, use something that’s clean preferably. Bring in a sample because that speeds up my diagnosis amazingly. My clients are really well trained. I’ve had lots of years to train them and they are really well trained. They’re a great bunch so they will usually bring one in. But that…

Rowan:          Awesome, awesome, awesome. So if everybody’s listening, first things first, if you see any of these symptoms — dripping, increased urination, increased thirst, a little bit of blood in the urine, and if you don’t see that, some spotting on the kitchen floor, which isn’t your dog in heat, then basically bring in a sample.

Wendy:          Perfect. And males are much easier to get a sample from them. So no excuses. You can do it. Don’t worry what the neighbors are saying about you.

Rowan:          Yeah, absolutely. I mean, for instance, were that to happen with any of the farm dogs next door? I would just simply remove one of the tires from my land rover and take it in.

Wendy:          Yeah, might be a bit of contamination, but never mind, we’d get an idea.

Rowan:          Like my Murphy’s, I’m not bitter. Stop writing your name on the car tire.  [laughter]

Wendy:          Brilliant, absolutely.

Rowan:          I need a restraining order. OK, onwards and upwards.

Wendy:          I mean you’re not going to again diagnose stones on a urine sample, but it’ll give you a great pointer very very quickly. You need to be looking at x-rays plus or minus a scan, plus or minus sending the urine off for culture and also they can look at crystals under microscopes a lot of practices can do that for themselves. So there’s a bit of what we call “work-up,” you do need to do a diagnostics now and again and that will tell you what you’re dealing with. Because treatment options vary obviously, depending on what’s happening and I think it’s not just about treatment, it’s about prevention. It’s about it not happening again or not happening full stop. Because the one thing about bladder stones is they will recur if they get half a chance, they will recur.

Rowan:          OK, now I guess we’re talking about really bladder stones as a symptom of something going on? So if the underlying cause is there of course it’s going to recur. So do you have any insight into what the underlying causes are? And I appreciate this is quite a wide ranging topic. Nobody’s going to hold you to anything legally.

Wendy:          Yeah, going away from obviously the genetics of the urate breeds, there is no doubt in my mind that diet plays a huge… But diet plays a huge part in everything. So why are we even talking about this? Diet plays a huge part in absolutely everything because what it’s about is reducing inflammation. It’s all about not having inflammatory episodes of anything.

Rowan:          If we were to kind of… What was that horrible phrase that people used to say in corporate meetings, years and years ago when I used to work in the city was — “if we were to take a helicopter view.” Argh. But if we were to do that, I remember writing in a blog article last week when I was trying to impress upon people the importance of food, is imagine everything that you feed your dog is in three to six months going to make up your dog.

Wendy:          Oh absolutely.

Rowan:          Your dog is not made of air. It’s made of basically nutrients, calories, proteins, some carbohydrates, fats, that’s what glues it all together. That’s what the dog is, you know, that’s what we are. So of course if we got inflammation, I think it’s going to be a huge impact on all of these genetic conditions and other.

Wendy:          Yeah, because I think one of the basic things for me, and I’m quite basic, if you feed a dry diet, a kibble of any description, good, bad or indifferent, and as you know there’s ranges of kibbles, your dog has to drink water and it has to drink a fair bit of water. And if for any reason it doesn’t or has lack of access or it doesn’t like the bowl you put the water in and that’s a biggie for me, some dogs are very sensitive to the types of bowls that you used for food and water. Or if you happen to be in an area with rubbish water full of fluorine or whatever else they add to water nowadays, you find your pet doesn’t drink as much as it should do or it might look for a puddle outside and that’s OK in my book, I don’t mind animals drinking from puddles outside, they’re probably healthier. So if you’ve got any sort of water deprivation, water restriction, even accidentally, you are more likely to them have crystal formation in the urine.

As I said wait for the podcast on cats because I can sum cats up in three lines, that’s easy. But for dogs they’ve got to drink more if they’re on a kibble. Likewise, you know, and I know the inflammatory episodes are created by certain things in kibble, OK. So summed it up. So again, I have no proof. Now before I get hung out to dry by my conventional colleagues who might or might not watch this podcast, I don’t have a double blinded placebo controlled trial, randomized even, to prove or disprove this. I’ve got 35 years of being a vet. See I can play the age card now. And I this is what I see. I see certain diets without a shadow of a doubt, which I wouldn’t even name because I don’t want to be in court. But they’re at the lower end of the crap, am I allowed to say that? Lower end of rubbish

Rowan:          You can say for instance — “utter horse shit kibble killers.” [laughter]

Wendy:          OK, well I won’t go there at the moment, but yeah there are diets that definitely predispose to bladder stones and as I say “see cats,” at a later date. Raw fed dogs — have I had a case of bladder stones in a raw fed dog that doesn’t have a portosystemic shunt because there is no doubt it really doesn’t matter what you feed them if you’ve got a portosystemic shunt. But I can’t think of any… And my practice as you know promotes raw feeding and also we have a lot of raw fed dogs in the practice for that reason. I can’t think of any that I’ve seen that have had bladder stones, I will be honest with you.

Rowan:          This is music to my ears Wendy. This is music to my ears and you’re saying things that I’ve been wondering, but obviously I am not qualified to justify. It’s the suspicion. And this is once again why I love meeting up with you because quite often I’ve got a little bit of a theory, you’ve got this swathe of clinical evidence or experience rather, clinical experience, and obviously your vet training and it’s like — ah, so these are the bits that actually fit together. Personally, when I look at human patients, it’s very rare that inflammation is not linked to diet or actually diet has been a huge part of it, we clear that, loads of things go away and then there’s something residual and it’s actually been exposed to mercury. I remember looking after some execs last year and they’d been working in oil fields in west Africa and they will have petro chemical exposure. Diet was a huge part and then we found there with something else. It’s rare to find that. But invariably in my experience, it’s virtually impossible to find somebody who’s got an inflammatory condition of any kind without they’re being a diet component.

Wendy:          Yeah I mean like you said, I do you think there are other elements as well. I think this magic word stress has to come into as well. But again, there has been little or no clinical trials done on any of this this stuff and certainly the dietary treatment of these diseases, particularly bladder stones has been swallowed up by the big kibble companies, which I will not name because they all have special diets for this. Some of them are dry, some of them are moist. So it’s not all about dry diets. I’m not having a pulpit dry diets here specifically. Some of them are moist as well, but one of the main factors is these animals have to take in water or moisture. It doesn’t have to be drinking, you know, moisture, moisture, moisture and that obviously you don’t find in a dry diet.

Rowan:          Yes, absolutely. I totally agree with all of that. These laboratory prepared, vet approved, blah, blah, blah diets that you actually see some of them are filled with, to quote my poetic father on this — “utter chod.” I mean absolutely utter chod. I was in the vets a couple of weeks ago having a discussion, I was like, so this is your hypoallergenic formula? I mean, you’d killed humans if you gave them that stuff. You’d eat it for a week and look older, you’d be like all inflamed.

Wendy:          Again, I am a conventional vet as well, so I’m going to just put both hats on here at one time.

Rowan:          Please do.

Wendy:          Some of the moist, wet in other words prescription diets have a place if the opposite was that you’re going to feed really crap kibble. So again…

Rowan:          it’s all a continuum isn’t it?

Wendy:          It’s all got a place and for certain animals maybe that is what is going to have to be fed to help with the condition. But obviously there are other things as we all know, and as I say, I go back to my original statement. I cannot think of a raw fed case of urolithiasis if you want to give it it’s posh term, I can’t think of one.

Rowan:          That is very reassuring. I’m sure lots of people who were concerned with this or have got dogs who are suffering from it and as you so rightly pointed out, is actually quite painful. There is glimmers of hope that hopefully people listening to this if they’re on the raw bus and hopefully people who are listening to this and think — oh, actually I can totally down play at least the statistical likelihood of one of these things happening. There is some actual interesting research out there which I’ll tell you very briefly in the human world. Everybody they like to talk about, oh, what’s the Dickensian, I nearly said goiter, but I’m actually thinking associated with port in the knuckles a…

Wendy:          Gout.

Rowan:          Thank you. Thank you. I was thinking goiter, it’s actually gout. Why is my brain not working very well today? I need more sleep.

Wendy:          [inaudible][31:37]

Rowan:          Yeah. So many suitors. Every time I sit down to work there’s another little rat a tap tap, tap at the door, another dog holding some flowers and some chocolates.

Wendy:          And there’ll never be one good enough for her just like that.

Rowan:          Yeah, absolutely. So basically that gout is actually associated with an inflammatory response to dairy or grains. And it was always traditionally too much protein, too much uric acid. Well actually we’re talking similar things in the fact that it’s dehydration and a conglomeration of crystals associated with an inflammatory response.

Wendy:          Interesting, interesting. One little aside that will hopefully reassure quite a number of the raw feeders who are worried about this. As I probably mentioned to you sort of last week, the way to prevent or to deal with small, I emphasized small or struvite stones, not that big one that was in that poor dog’s bladder, is to acidify the urine. A lot of urine alkaline with certain diets. So you acidify the urine, you then find that struvite crystals dissolve literally into a soup and are passed out, they’re just flushed out eventually by the dog drinking and peeing. Now what better way to acidify the urine than to feed a raw diet.

Rowan:          Nice. And what would happen do you think if we added in some apple cider vinegar to that?

Wendy:          Yeah, I mean again, you’re acidifying aren’t you. As I said to you, we used to in the old days add in vitamin c and such like little things to try and acidify urine. Anything that acidifies, raw diet acidifies. That’s how the prescription diets work by the way, for struvite, this is an insider story — all they add is salt. That’s really healthy, the initial one to dissolve the struvite stones has high salt to make them drink and this creates an acidic urine end of sentence.

Rowan:          Oh my goodness me. So they’re basically adding table salt?

Wendy:          I presume they’re not adding the Himalayan stuff. But the other thing too is that diet then is only supposed to be fed for a short period of time, surprise, surprise.

Rowan:          Before it creates kidney failure.

Wendy:          The maintenance diet does not have high salt levels, but what you’ve got to watch is your pet gets addicted to salt, I’ve told you that before. Cats . . . [34:15] but dogs too. They like salt. They become addicts.

Rowan:          Same thing Humans, right? I mean there are some very famous of which there is a film at the moment about the person who set it up, the founder of this chain, no names mentioned. But they literally combined fats with salt, with sugar in a lot of their fast meals to create an Elvis style diet, which was highly, highly addictive. I have not mentioned any fast food chains in this podcast. This is anecdotal chat.

Wendy:          I saw the film.

Rowan:          Yeah. Oh, I felt like I needed a shower after it.

Wendy:          Interesting. Very interesting.

Rowan:          Yeah, it was, it was very interesting. So Wendy, I think we’ve covered quite a lot today.

Wendy:          Yep, absolutely, that’s stones basically in a nutshell with dogs.

Rowan:          So if we were just to recap, there’s three different types of stones — SCU. Struvite, calcium oxalate, and urate. One is more prevalent in females, it needs inflammation, it needs a bacteria may be, and it’s a smooth stone. One is associated with un-neutered males and the other one that is more genetic or something that’s happened in birth, this portohepatic shunt, is that right?

Wendy:          Yep. Yep. Yep.

Rowan:          Okay. Listening, brain, back on. Good news. First of all, if you’re feeding your dog a raw diet which is high in moisture and their having access to water, it’s very unlikely that they will get stones. Is that correct?

Wendy:          That’s my experience, anecdotal.

Rowan:          OK, that’s good. And if anybody gets any of these, or is diagnosed with this they can acidify the urine and that will deal with the struvite component by and large. It might not address the other ones?

Wendy:          It will not address the other ones at all.

Rowan:          So that would be a surgical option?

Wendy:          Unfortunately, because of the anatomy and the risk of having obstruction, severe obstructions, you are looking surgical removal.

Rowan:          And I guess the final point is if people see any behaviors in their dog where they change around urine whichever the spotting, increased need to wee, frequency first, whichever they should be going and seeing their vet immediately and getting a diagnosis. I think we’ve covered it all haven’t we?

Wendy:          We have. I think so.

Rowan:          And next time we get to speak about cats

Wendy:          We do need to do cats. Because we are always… Well we weren’t always forgetting about them but we need to remember they’re there and they have equally significant problems, but totally different. Same but different.

Rowan:          Because they’re not small dogs.

Wendy:          They’re not small dogs, keep telling you that. Yes. They’re not small dogs.

Rowan:          Oh poor Kismet. The pre pre being in-season which she’s like really inquisitive, she thinks the world’s her friend. I’ll just end on this little anecdote. So we were walking past all the wind surf centers on the beach. She’s there waggy, waggy, sees these two cats — ooh, they’re like small small dogs, let’s go and make friends. These cats leapt on her, they were hissing, they were like out of a children’s book with a witch on the front, you know, literally arched. She was howling and crying. They were tearing bits of her. I’m trying to get in the middle of it. I mean, it was like she’s not been near cats since.

Wendy:          Poor Kismet, yeah that’s cats for you.

Rowan:          Yeah and they ganged up as well. They worked in a team.

Wendy:          They would, cats rule.

Rowan:          It was a cat attack.

Wendy:          Oh dear. On that note. We’ve done it.

Rowan:          Wendy we have and once again, thank you for your experience, your wisdom, your great humor and your company. I am loving all of it and I look forward to the next episode.

Wendy:          Me too. Thanks again, Rowan, great stuff.

Rowan:          Thank you. Have a fabulous rest of day.

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