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Healthier Homemade

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Cystine Urinary Crystals in Dogs

Integrating Custom Homemade Recipes into Medical Programs for Dogs with Cystine Urinary Crystals and Stones:


It is uncertain why certain breeds of dogs (English Bulldogs, Bull Mastiff, Newfoundland, Dachshund, and other bully breeds) are prone to the accumulation of cystine crystals and stones in their urine. Reduction of total dietary protein, using meats low in cystine and other sulfur-containing amino acids helps prevent the crystal formation that leads to cystine stones in the bladder.


Our recipes for cystine crystals and stones have a calorie distribution that is considered favorable for cystine patients, meaning it has less meat protein than normal diets. Less protein reduces crystal and stone formation in the urine.


Because Healthier Homemade dog food recipes for cystine are low in protein they are not appropriate for normal adult dogs, or puppies. Although Healthier Homemade dog food recipes exceed AAFCO and NRC daily nutrient requirements and meet the minimum NRC requirements for protein and the sulfur-containing amino acids (methionine and cystine) to ensure adequate taurine production, we prefer to err on the side of caution. The Healthier Homemade urate program includes taurine supplementation for this heart protecting amino acid.


Low protein diets should also be used with caution in male dogs with cystine stones that have not been surgically removed. The diet may promote the dissolution of cystine stones that could result in stone shrinkage sufficient to cause stones to be passed into the urethra and lodge at the penis bone and block urination. This can be a life-threatening condition and require emergency surgery. 


Your dog’s diet is only one tool for cystine crystal and stone management, it is not a substitute for a comprehensive veterinary treatment plan. Treatment may include a medication called 2-MPG and a urine alkalizer called potassium citrate.  Constant veterinary lab monitoring is essential in a veterinary management plan for cystine patients.  It is recommended that urine be monitored every 3 months for the first year on the diet and then every 6 months for the life of the patient.


Bladder x-rays to ensure stones are not being formed should be performed yearly as well. Detection of calcium oxalate or struvite urinary crystals is common on these diets. Veterinarians may recommend urine acidifiers if oxalate counts become too high. Healthier Homemade recipes for cystine crystals and stones may not be appropriate for patients that also have dietary restrictions for other conditions (inflammatory bowel disease/chronic enteropathy, short bowel syndrome or cancer).


Since low protein diets are not a favorite for dogs, “Food Fatigue” is common in patients on these diets. We recommend the generous use of condiments (bacon grease, BBQ sauce, Teriyaki baste, Catsup, Honey, etc.) along with appetite stimulants to keep these patients interested in eating their diets.


Each Healthier Homemade Starter Kit includes a nutrition data fact sheet, so owners and their veterinarians can see that all of the 42 daily essential nutrients are in meals prepared with our recipes, when used as directed. Commercial prescription diets, especially kibble, may be unappealing. Freshly cooked meals make a difference!

Click here to learn about recipe programs that are available for dogs suffering from Cystine Urinary Crystals.