Cocker spaniel with Struvite stones and other health issues

Hello all

I’d be grateful for any advice you might have, especially if you’ve come across the same problem(s). Alternatively, if you know a good canine nutritionalist who you can recommend, that would be extremely useful. The problems are many…

My cocker spaniel is 6 years old. He’s got a litany of health issues, the most serious of which appears to have been overlooked by the vet repeatedly until the last straw, when a nail fell out during a walk over Christmas.

He has very poor nails and infections in 3 of 4 of his paws as a result. A biopsy has been done and the vet suspects lupoid onchodystrophy, so they’ve put him on a myriad of fatty acid supplements and antibiotics.

I’m convinced that this hasn’t just arisen by chance. In Jan 2016, he had an operation to remove struvite bladder stones which had returned following a period of time on a preventative food. Post op, the vet put him on another preventative food which did the trick re the stones, but I suspect has brought about deficiencies elsewhere in his nutritional needs and led to his current nail/nail bed problem. The food says on the packet not to use for more than 3-6 months, but the vet was firm that we should continue to use it on a permanent basis.

So, what we need is a diet which keeps his pH balanced so as to keep the stones away, but which also contains the essential vitamins and minerals he needs to encourage health nail, coat and skin growth. No easy task judging by the internet research I’ve been trying to do.

As an added bonus, he also has trouble with blocked anal glands, but frankly, they can be dealt with tolerably if we can overcome the two major problems.

I appreciate this is something of a complex issue, hence the request for recommendation for an expert, but I would be really grateful to hear from anyone whose dog suffered similar problems and any solutions you might be able to suggest.

Many thanks,


Hello and welcome to the forum. I am sorry that your dog has been so poorly. I have to say that I am not a nutritionist and don’t know of any myself. Have you asked your vet about a referral to someone who specialises in this field?

Years ago I had a dog with bladder stones and the vet put her on the special diet that you describe. He stopped it once the bladder was clear - IIRC it took about three months.

In these circumstances I can’t really recommend anything. However, the food that immediately sprang to mind is Nutriment Low Purine as it is specifically formulated for dogs with a tendency to stones. I think it would at least be worth contacting their helpline. The website is here. Their Contact Us page is here. If you decide to contact the company, please could you let us know how you get on?

I hope that your dog improves with a good diet.

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I am no expert but like Dottie, when I read your post, the first thing that sprang to mind was nutriment low purine, I agree that it would be worth contacting them for advice. They are generally quite helpful.

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Dear all

Thanks for the contributions so far. That thread about canine nutritionalists started in 2015 draws a depressing blank doesn’t it? As others have said, plainly there’s a niche market here but one which needs its funding through food manufacturers themselves, so you’re back to square one in assessing the independence of the advice.

From the research we’ve been doing in trying to find a pH balancing diet that’s low on phosphorus (thus keeping the stones at bay) but higher in fatty acids and calcium for the skin/nail SLO problem, it’s not easy to find a manufactured food that does it all. It may be that the best thing is a bespoke raw diet that we can tweak as and when necessary and see how that goes.

I’ll check out the Nutriment Low Purine too so thanks for that recommendation.

We’ve asked the vet to refer us to a nutritionalist if there isn’t one within the veterinary surgery itself and the suggestion we contact the RVC is a very good one.

Thanks again for the comments and I’ll let you know how we get on.




Thank you very much indeed for the feedback. Please would you keep in touch and let us know what you decide to go with? Your dog has specific issues and your posts could well be of help to someone else at a later date. I hope that your little pal will soon be feeling much better when he has a suitable food.

Yes. Due to the high meat content and low magnesium content, ORIJEN is naturally acidic and helps promote a healthy bladder.
It is important that pets that are prone to urinary tract infections or developing urinary crystals are allowed all the fresh water they can drink to help flush the urinary tract and dilute the urine. As ORIJEN is much higher in protein and highly nutrient dense, more water intake may be needed to facilitate digestion. ORIJEN foods have a pH between 5.5 and 6, which is naturally mildly acidic and well suited to the maintenance of healthy bladder function in both cats and dogs
ORIJEN’s fresh meat inclusions are very high. The two largest nutritional components of fresh meat are protein and fat. By using large inclusions of fresh meat we are able to minimize the amount of added fat in our ingredient list.
Compare this to conventional foods, which contain little to no fresh meat. Because these foods are not formulated with ingredient ratios that match the natural diet, supplementation with larger amounts of added fat is required.

C+P Orijen website. I don’t know if it will help you at all.


Mrharries - I have just remembered a website that I came across some time ago. It is mentioned in the home cooking section of the forum and David has taken a look at the site. It is Balance IT. It is based in the USA and they provide pet owners with specific recipes for various conditions. If you are interested in home cooking for your dog, check out the aforementioned section. Also, there are some useful Facebook groups mentioned there.

To MRHARRIES sorry, I have no idea how to tag anyone :-[
My Cocker Spaniel has had Struvite bladder stones and been treated with the horrible vet prescription foods as I mentioned in a thread above.
I wanted to let you know that I rang Steph the nutritionist at Nutriment, she understood his needs immediately and has suggested we try the Low purine and phosphorus food that they supply. I plan to test his urine with litmus paper to ensure his urine stays at a healthy ph and she has asked that i ring back after 2 weeks so that she can monitor him and adjust his diet if need be. It was such a relief to talk to someone who knew what they were talking about :smiley: Hope this is of some help to others :smiley:


Thanks for the update Janey5, it is much appreciated. I am not sure if Mrharries still visits but I am sure your feedback will be useful for others. I have changed the thread title a little so that it is easily visible for those with similar issues. I hope your dog gets on well with the nutriment. If you could update with your progress, that would be great ;D