What do crystals in dog urine mean, and does it say something about a dog’s health?

According to the ScieceDirect study the presence of crystals in a dog’s urine is a phenomenon called crystalluria, or the formation of crystals that results from an oversaturation or increased amount of naturally occurring minerals and organic matter in urine. There’s a science behind it, so these crystals didn’t pop out of nowhere, nor were they accidentally swallowed in crystal form.

Various crystal types can form in dog urine, which can sometimes lead to corresponding types of stones (uroliths or urolithiasis) in the urinary tract. Among the most common crystal types that have been seen in dog urine are: calcium oxalate, magnesium ammonium phosphate (struvite), ammonium urate or uric acid, calcium phosphate, cysteine, and silica.

It’s possible that in an alternate universe, crystals in a dog’s system may bring forth some kind of special power. In this universe, however, crystals may sometimes indicate health problems or lead to stones if not addressed. But do note that some crystals may also be found in healthy dogs and are normal in some cases without posing a risk of developing stones. Let us get to know more about the types, causes, and treatment options (if necessary) when a dog has crystals in their urine.

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  1. What Do Crystals in Dog Urine Look Like
  2. Symptoms of Having Crystals in Dog Urine
  3. Types of Crystals in Dog Urine
  4. Causes of Urine Crystals in Dogs
  5. Treatment of Urine Crystals in Dogs
  6. FAQs
  7. Conclusion

What Do Crystals in Dog Urine Look Like

Do crystals in a dog’s urine shine bright like diamonds? Kidding aside, you might be wondering: What do crystals in dog urine look like?

Typically, crystals in a dog’s urine are microscopic, meaning they cannot be seen with the naked eye. Under the microscope, some crystals may appear like gemstones shaped like squares or rectangles, and others may look somewhat like hexagons, crystal snowflakes, or fireworks. On some occasions, when a dog has enough crystals, however, the crystals get clumped and produce sediments that can be seen in their urine.

Symptoms of Having Crystals in Dog Urine

What pet parents may notice are the following symptoms that their dog may be exhibiting:

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Types of Crystals in Dog Urine

It is important to identify the types of urinary crystals in dogs. This is because specific crystal types can signal particular underlying health issues. Determining the type of crystals can also help ascertain disorders that may lead to developing kidney stones. Below are the most common types of crystals in dog urine.

Struvite crystals

One of the most common crystal types in dogs, struvite crystals consist of phosphate, magnesium, and ammonia, often caused by UTIs with urease-producing bacteria. On the other hand, more than 50% of dogs that get struvite crystals are healthy, including dogs that don’t have UTIs. Due to this, it is common for the detection of struvite crystals to be incidental when a dog is brought to the vet for other health conditions.

Calcium oxalate crystals

Another common crystal type in dogs, calcium oxalate crystals, may form when there is an excess of calcium or oxalic acid in a dog’s urine. It may also be detected in normal urine when the urine is refrigerated or when it is acidic. The presence of these crystals may also point to an infection, particularly when the urine pH is low, and may indicate calcium oxalate uroliths. Like struvite crystals, many healthy dogs are sometimes detected with calcium oxalate crystals.

Urate crystals

These crystals can be classified into several types, including ammonium urate, sodium urate, and uric acid. They’re radiolucent, so they develop into bladder stones and cannot be seen through X-rays. This type is more common in dogs with liver disease or those with congenital defects, resulting in the release of more uric acid in their urine.

Cystine crystals

This crystal type is rare and is radiolucent like urate crystals. They can form in dogs that have inherited a kidney problem that prevents them from reabsorbing cysteine amino acids normally.

Causes of Urine Crystals in Dogs

What causes crystals in dog urine? Like what was mentioned earlier, various urinary crystals may form in the bladder of a dog when there is an oversaturation of minerals, resulting in crystallization. Such a phenomenon may be caused by a combination of factors, such as a dog’s genetic predisposition, nutrition, and possible underlying conditions. While there are normal cases of crystalluria, there are significant cases that would require the examination of fresh urine.

Genetic predisposition

Some dogs are more susceptible to the formation of crystals in urine. Below are certain crystals and the corresponding dog breeds that are more susceptible to them:

  • Struvite crystals
    Miniature Schnauzers, Lhasa Apsos, Miniature Poodles, Bichon Frises, Shih Tzus, and Cocker Spaniels.

  • Calcium oxalate crystals
    Miniature Schnauzers, Lhasa Apsos, Miniature Poodles, and Yorkshire Terriers.

  • Urate crystals
    Dalmatians, English Bulldogs.

  • Cystine crystals
    Dachshunds, Newfoundlands, and English Bulldogs.


A dog’s nutrition is a key factor in crystal formation as well as in managing and treating it. However, two dogs can eat the same thing, with only one forming crystals in their urine. This is because some dogs have a genetic link to having excess minerals. It is therefore also important to consider genetic factors when providing nutrition for your dog.

Underlying medical conditions

Having underlying medical conditions may also play a big part in crystal formation. For example, UTIs can change the pH or acidity inside the bladder while causing debris and inflammation. An increase in calcium levels in the blood may also lead to crystals. Among other conditions that can increase calcium levels in the blood are kidney disease, Addison’s disease, parathyroid disease, and some cancers.

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Treatment of Urine Crystals in Dogs

If a dog has crystals in their urine, this doesn’t necessarily equate to a need for medical treatment, especially if your dog is not exhibiting any symptoms. The formation of crystals in a dog’s urine is a normal process in their metabolism. However, some cases need medical treatment, especially when there are risks of blockages and stone formation. With this, your veterinarian will be able to determine if medical treatment is necessary.

For some dogs, treatment may involve the need to adjust their urine pH. This usually involves nutrition therapy. With struvite crystals, for example, increasing the acidity of the urine may be advised. Natural remedies for struvite crystals in dogs may include supplementing them with vitamins A, B Complex, C, D, or fish oil. Antibiotic treatment may also be prescribed. On the other hand, management of calcium oxalate crystals involves making the urine more alkaline. In all cases, an increase in water consumption is advised to increase the volume of urine. A prescription diet is often recommended, depending on the corresponding crystals that your dog has.

In and of itself, the presence of crystals in urine isn't usually dangerous. However, when the clumping together of crystals occurs where sediment forms, there is a possibility of urinary blockage, which may result in a medical emergency.

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What are some examples of dog food for urinary crystals?

When our dog has urinary crystals that need to be treated, we want the best dog food for the crystals in their urine to be managed. Nutrition is important to address the underlying issues and keep our four-legged friends’ urinary health in tip-top shape.

Some of the renowned brands of dog food that were formulated to address the specific needs of dogs with urinary crystals include:

  • Hill’s Prescription Diet CD Multicare Urinary Care Chicken Flavor Dry
  • Royal Canin Canine Veterinary Diet Urinary SO Dogs
  • Azest for Homemade Dog Food Supplement
  • Pupper Fuel

To treat your dog with urine crystals, including what to feed them, it is best to consult with your veterinarian to address your dog’s specific needs.

Dog food for struvite crystals: What to feed your dog with struvite crystals?

It is recommended to choose low-protein (with only 10–15% of protein), low-phosphorus, and low-magnesium foods when your dog has struvite crystals so as not to stress their kidneys. Struvite crystals form in urine that’s alkaline, so letting them drink more water may help make their urine more acidic or diluted.


A variety of crystals may form in a dog’s urine. While crystals are normal in dogs, there are cases when certain crystals are caused by underlying conditions or may have a risk of developing into stones. Depending on the crystals that are present, treatment may involve nutrition therapy, supplements, and drinking more water.

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