In 2023, our three year old intact male Blue, came down with a urinary obstruction due to stones.
Urinary stones are more problematic for male dogs, especially intact male dogs, because their urethra travels within a narrowing trough of bone. Things can get stuck here, whereas the female dog lacks this physical bottleneck.
Types of Urinary Stones in Dogs:
Like in humans, different types of stones can form in the body depending on different biological imbalances or issues. A lot has to do with PH of the urine, which is normally slightly acidic in dogs.
A little too acidic, or too alkaline, a little too much of a certain mineral or amino-acid, or maybe not enough of another and problems may take shape.
There can be a genetic factor to urinary stones, but nothing has been identified specifically in the German Shorthaired Pointer.
There are four main types of canine stones:
Struvite stones are the most common type of urinary tract stone in dogs. They are made up of magnesium ammonium phosphate, which is a salt that can form when there is an excess of ammonia in the urine.
Struvite stones are often caused by a urinary tract infection (UTI). The bacteria in the UTI actually produce the ammonia responsible for creating the struvite stones.
Calcium oxalate stones are made up of calcium and oxalate, which are two naturally occurring substances. They are the second most common type of stone.
Calcium oxalate stones can form when a dog has issues processing certain minerals from their diet or underlying issues that cause higher calcium levels causing an excess of calcium or oxalate in the urine.
Third most common stone are Urate stones. These stones are made up of uric acid, a waste product produced by the body. These stones can form when there is an excess of uric acid in the urine.
Last and least common are Cystine stones. A type of urinary tract stone that is made up of the amino acid cystine. Cystine is normally filtered out of the blood by the kidneys and excreted in the urine. However, in some dogs, the kidneys do not filter out cystine effectively, and the cystine can build up in the urine and form stones.
These stones can also be hormone-induced in intact male dogs (it’s still being studied by researchers as to why this happens).
Our Story with Blue.
When any of the girls go into heat, the boys eating and drinking schedule gets zonked. They get so interested in the girls, they don’t even want to eat or drink… of course they do, but in smaller amounts and far less frequently.
Earlier this year, we had three girls go into heat at once and Blue went lost his mind.
He hardly drank anything during this time despite our best efforts.
We noticed Blue started standing their trying to pee for extended periods of time. He was obviously having trouble. We figured it was a UTI, but seeing as we wanted to breed him with Roka, we decided to take him to the vet after a few days of no improvement.
Our vet said UTI and pointed out the presence of Struvite crystals in the urine. Implying that he could have a bigger problem with Struvite stones going on in his urinary tract.
The vet issued antibiotics and suggested x-rays if the problem didn’t clear up.
It was here that we started treating Blue with herbs and foods to LOWER his urine PH, as lowering urine PH can break up Struvite Stones. Not all stones, but specifically Struvite stones.
Our herbal treatments probably made things worst, we’ll explain why in a second.
Over the next couple of weeks, Blues pee power degraded. We monitored his water intake and output very carefully, actually measuring and weighing the amount of urine he produced each day.
When we realized not enough was coming out, back to the vet, where they manually drained his nearly full bladder, took x-rays, and ultimately discovered he was indeed was blocked by stones.
Because Blue is our potential kennel stud dog, we had to move Blue to a specialist practice and do immediate surgery to push the stones back into his bladder where they could be removed. He had 10 stones.
The surgeon noted that in 20 years, he had never removed stones from a GSP. Lucky us.
After waiting 2 weeks for lab analysis, the results from the lab said the stones were Cystine stones.
This is why we feel we might have actually made things worse for blue treating him for Struvite stones, because Cystine stones can’t dissolve in LOWER urine PH. For Cystine stones you actually need to go the other way and keep the urine more alkaline, In more alkaline urine the Cystine CAN’T bind together and gets flushed out.
The only breeds where genetic Cystine markers have been identified are; Labradors, Newfoundlands, Scottish Terriers, Australian cattle dogs, Miniature Pinschers, Bulldogs, and Mastiffs.
Since there are no specific tests for German Shorthaired Pointers, this leaves a lot of questions.
Riggs has never had urinary problems, never even had a UTI that we can recall.
Both Riggs and Piccolo, Blue’s parents tested NEGATIVE for the genetic markers of:
- Cystinuria Type 1-A (SLC3A1)
- Cystinuria Type 2-A (SLC3A1)
- Cystinuria Type 2-B (SLC7A9)
While it’s possible Blue picked up the genetic disposition somewhere from one of his parents, we can’t help but wonder if his really bad bout with Parvo might have adversely affected him, or perhaps the strong regiment of antibiotics he was given during that time in the doggy ER.
Interestingly we brought this question up with his surgeon and he said, “Since there’s no money to be made from the study if Parvo or antibiotics have any affect of Cystine stone production, we’re not likely to ever find out.”
If we can test for a genetic flaw and the results say “Pups will have this flaw and manifest this problem,” of course, we will not breed that dog.
But in this case, there is so little research and understanding of Cystine stones–at least in German Shorthaired Pointers, we feel the benefits of Blue as a stud dog outweigh the possible risks.
They’ve only identified markers for Cystine stones in 3 or 4 breeds, though as many as 70 breeds have been shown to get stones.
When you dig on this topic, you find out that much of the data is inconclusive and the formation of stones likely depends on multiple factors.
At this time, no other male dogs from any of our litters have reported any kind of stones.
Cystine Level Control.
From what we understand, Cystine stones can’t form in a more alkaline urine.
Dogs with Cystinuria are put on a diet that promotes a more alkaline urine.
Research also shows that neutering dramatically drops Cystine production in the body. We don’t advocate early neutering as a preventative measure for any of our pups. But we point out that spayed/neutered dogs are even less likely to have any issues down the line.
Penn Genn (University of Pennsylvania), is the only place in the U.S. currently offering a Nitroprusside Test for Cystinuria. That is, for $55 they’ll check the dog’s urine for presence of Cystine stones.
Unfortunately, as with so much of these stones, they can’t tell you much in the results, reporting positive, slightly positive, or negative results only.
Still this test could be considered with any male pup from us who hasn’t been neutered yet and suffers from a UTI or repeat UTIs. Again, we point out, no one has reported any UTIs to us, or any bigger urinary problems. We bring this to your attention to rule out any potential problem for peace of mind.
And in a worse case scenario, if a dog suffers from ANY stones and you can get ahead of it, they are treatable through diet.
Blue’s made a full recovery from his surgery. He’s peeing normal and racing around and causing trouble as if nothing ever happened.
We’re working to fine tune his diet to make sure these stones don’t return.
We will most certainly post additional information on this subject as we have it.
We always hope folks keep us in the loop with any medical conditions any of our pups might experience in their lives, but to anyone who owns one of our male pups, we would especially appreciate being notified of any urinary issues.