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Best Dog Food for Bladder Stones

dog and toilet closeup

This is the definitive review of the best dog food for bladder stones in 2020.

There are a number of different dog foods available on the market that promote urinary health by treating and managing such cases.

As a veterinarian, I have spent many hours researching and recommending the best dog foods to help prevent and manage instances of bladder stones in dogs.

Given that struvite and calcium oxalate stones are by far the most common bladder stones in dogs. I found the different Royal Canin Urinary SO diets to be very useful for managing this condition.

However, this does not mean that Royal Canin Urinary SO will fix any bladder stone issue.

Bladder stones are a serious medical condition and IT IS IMPERATIVE TO SEE A VET such as myself before putting your dog on any of these diets.

There are also other brands that make very good urinary care diets which might be more suitable for your individual dog.

This article will explain or discuss:

  • What to look for when buying food for a dog with bladder stones.
  • The differences between different diets and what they aim to treat.
  • How some ingredients can help.
  • Wet and dry food options to suit fussy palates.
  • Considerations for different life stages and body conditions.

Let’s get started.

Best Dog Food for Bladder Stones

11 Best Dog Food for Bladder Stones Reviewed

Below you’ll find what we think are the best dog food products available to help manage urinary stone formation.

Royal Canin Urinary SO diet (standard) dry food

Royal Canin Urinary SO Dry
  • First 5 ingredients: Brewers Rice, Corn, Chicken Fat, Chicken By-Product Meal, Brewers Rice Flour
  • Type of product: Veterinary Diet
  • Life stage: Adult
  • Best for: Lifelong management of struvite and oxalate stones.

This is Royal Canin’s standard struvite and calcium oxalate bladder stones therapeutic diet. 

The first three and fifth ingredients of this dog food aim to provide your dog with the necessary energy, while Chicken by-product meal is the main protein source of the diet. 

Chicken by-product meal is highly digestible and easily metabolizable. Its precise inclusion in the diet allows for your dog’s amino acid requirements to be met while keeping Struvite and Oxalate stone-forming metabolites at a low concentration.

Royal Canin Urinary SO diets are also capable of dissolving pre-existing Struvite stones.

Some dogs need to be kept on this kind of dog food for their whole lives. Therefore, all Royal Canin Urinary SO dog foods are formulated to meet your dog’s mineral needs while preventing bladder stone formation. 

SO diets could also be a reasonable alternative for Silica stone prevention as silica and calcium oxalate stones often form together. 

The Royal Canin Urinary SO range has products that aim to address the specific needs of different dogs:

Royal Canin Urinary SO Small dogRoyal Canin Urinary SO Moderate Calorie dogRoyal Canin Urinary SO Aging 7+
Royal Canin Urinary SO Small Breed DryRoyal Canin Urinary SO Moderate Calories DryRoyal Canin Urinary SO Aging Dry
Smaller dogs have a hard time chewing big kibbles.

This dog food has smaller kibbles and makes sure that your small dog is enjoying their food and benefiting from their diet.
Overweight dogs are prone to bladder stone formation.

Since the two conditions can often go hand in hand Royal Canin made this dog food to tackle both problems at the same time.
This diet is supplemented with glucosamine and chondroitin to protect against joint degeneration. The diet is also rich in antioxidants, that mop up free radicals produced by inflammatory processes and metabolic reactions.
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Urinary SO dog foods have a moderate quantity of very high-quality protein that meets your dog’s nutritional requirements while minimizing the production of stone-forming metabolites. 

All SO diets have a wet food option that brings some excitement and provides some much-needed hydration into your dog’s diet.




Hills Prescription Diet Urinary Care S/D canned food

Hills Prescription Diet Urinary Care S/D canned food
  • First 5 ingredients: Water, Corn Starch, Chicken Fat, Pork Liver, Sugar
  • Type of product: Veterinary Product
  • Life stage: Adult
  • Best for: Dissolving struvite stones

This dog food only comes as canned food. As a result it’s first ingredient is water. 

Corn starch and sugar are part of the first five ingredients and are the main carbohydrate sources of this diet. 

Chicken fat is the third ingredient contributing heavily to the total energy content of the diet.

Pork liver, the fourth ingredient, is the main protein source of the diet. Liver is also rich in Iron, Copper, Vitamin B 12, Vitamin A and riboflavin.

The diet also contains “egg product” which has a high biological value. The high water content and acidifying agents found in this dog food all contribute to the dissolution of Struvite stones

The low level (on a dry matter basis) of high quality protein and struvite forming minerals in the diet prevent the formation of more struvite stones and crystals. 

The diet is not good for long term use and the diet should be eventually switched by your vet when the stones are dissolved. 

Being wet, this food will also be more appealing to those dogs whose condition has deteriorated because of bladder stones and urinary tract disease.




Hills Prescription Diet Urinary Care C/D Multicare dry food 

  • First 5 ingredients: Whole Grain Corn, Chicken Meal, Pork Fat, Corn Gluten Meal, Soybean Mill Run
  • Type of product: Veterinary Product
  • Life stage: Adult
  • Best for: Struvite/ Oxalate associated chronic urinary disease treatment and management in dogs.

Whole grain corn is the first ingredient and the main carbohydrate source of the diet. 

Chicken meal (2nd ingredient), corn gluten meal, and soybean mill run (4th and 5th ingredients respectively) are the main protein sources. 

Pork fat is the third ingredient and is another major energy source. This diet has moderate levels of high quality proteins (higher than in the S/D diet).

This diet works by promoting struvite stone dissolution and by creating an acidic and dilute urinary environment that prevents struvite and oxalate crystal formation. 

The diet is also high in antioxidants to mop up free radicals that result from inflammatory reactions in such conditions. 

The diet is intended for long term feeding in order to manage the urinary health of dogs prone to the formation of struvite and oxalate crystals.

This dog food can also be found as canned food.




Royal Canin Urinary UC Low Purine dry food

Royal Canin Urinary UC Low Purine dry
  • First 5 ingredients: Brewers rice, corn, wheat, egg product, chicken fat
  • Type of product: Veterinary Product
  • Life stage: Adult
  • Best for: Urate and Cystine stones

The first 3 ingredients of the diet are the main source of carbohydrates for your dog. 

Egg product is the 4th ingredient; the diet takes advantage of the fact that egg white has a very high biological value and is therefore one of the best quality protein sources around. 

The moderate amount of protein and the low purine containing proteins in the diet ensures that the proteins absorbed are utilized by the dog and produce very few metabolites that give rise to this type of stone. 

The diet also maintains an alkaline pH in the urine which leads to the reduced formation and dissolution of cystine and urate stones.

There is also a wet food form of this diet.




Hills Prescription Diet Urinary Care U/D dry food

Hills Prescription Diet Urinary Care U:D dry
  • First 5 ingredients: Brewers Rice, Corn Starch, Pork Fat, Egg Product, Powdered Cellulose
  • Type of product: Veterinary Product
  • Life stage: Adult
  • Best for: Oxalate, Urate, and Cystine associated chronic urinary disease treatment and management in dogs.

The first two ingredients of this therapeutic diet are the main carbohydrate sources of the diet. This is followed by pork fat which also contributes heavily to the total energy content of the diet. 

Egg product is the 4th ingredient and is, as mentioned before, a high quality protein source of high biological value. 

The fifth ingredient is powdered cellulose which is a great source of insoluble fiber and helps with the maintenance of gut health and motility and helps modulate the intestinal biome and its metabolites. 

This food is lower in protein and higher in fat than the Royal Canin UC Low Purine diet. 

The diet works by keeping the dogs urine low in minerals and metabolites involved in stone. It also makes urine alkaline, preventing the formation and dissolving Urate and Cystine stones. 

This dog food could also be good for the prevention of Silica bladder stone formation.

This dog food is also low in sodium making it safer for dogs who also suffer from early heart disease. [1, 2, 3]




Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets UR Urinary Ox/St Dry dog food

Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets UR Urinary Ox/St Dry dog food
  • First 5 ingredients: Whole Grain Corn, Brewers Rice, Chicken By-Product Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Animal Fat Preserved With Mixed-Tocopherols
  • Type of product: Veterinary Product
  • Life stage: Adult
  • Best for: Struvite and Oxalate associated chronic urinary disease treatment and management in dogs.

As with most of the diets mentioned the first two ingredients are the main carbohydrate sources of the diet. 

This dog food uses chicken by-product meal as their main protein source and corn gluten to supplement it. 

Animal fat is the fifth ingredient and is a major energy source in the diet. The diet also contains dried egg and animal digest as protein sources, adding to the nutritional value and palatability of the diet. 

The diet’s moderate high quality protein levels aim to reduce bacterial fermentation of protein which results in urinary stone forming metabolites. 

The diet works similarly to the other diets mentioned above by stimulating increased drinking, water retention and urination

It also acidifies urine and has a reduced concentration of ions and compounds whose metabolites contribute to the urinary stone formation process.

This diet also has a wet food alternative.




Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet W+U Weight Management + Urinary Care dry dog food

Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet W+U Weight Management + Urinary Care dry
  • First 5 ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Pea Starch, Peas, Pea Protein
  • Type of product: Veterinary Product, Grain-free
  • Life stage: Adult
  • Best for: Weight management with bladder stones

This dog food’s first five ingredients define this is a uniquely high protein urinary care diet.

Deboned chicken, chicken meal, peas, and pea protein are all rich in protein. 

Pea starch and pea (also a protein rich legume) are the only carbohydrate contributing ingredients out of the first five. 

This diet relies on acidifying urine and keeping the relative super-saturation of struvite and oxalate crystal forming ions low in the dog’s urine. 

Clinical trials of the diet have shown that it is able to prevent the formation of both struvite and oxalate crystals and dissolve pre-existing struvite crystals.[4]

Obesity is also thought to be associated with Oxalate and Urate stone formation. 

This diet’s weight management properties could therefore help with the prevention of Oxalate stones and might also lend a hand with urate stone prevention despite it’s acidifying properties. [5]

This diet also comes as a wet food.




Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet KS Kidney Support Dry Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet KS Kidney Support Dry
  • First 5 ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Potato Starch, Pea Starch, Peas, Potatoes
  • Type of product: Veterinary Product, Grain-free
  • Life stage: Adult
  • Best for: Dogs with chronic kidney disease.

This dog food has a low to moderate protein content (much lower than that of Blue Buffalo’s W+U diet) and high in fat. A lower, high quality protein content is important to protect the kidneys. 

Deboned chicken is the first ingredient and is the main protein source of the diet. Peas, the fourth ingredient, are also a source of vegetable protein. 

The diet is also richer in carbohydrates than the average Blue Buffalo formula with potato starch, pea starch, and potatoes in the top five ingredients. 

The diet also contains dried egg product as the sixth ingredient making use of it’s high biological value in order to decrease the protein load on the kidney while making sure to meet your dog’s protein requirements. 

Blue Buffalo KS works by keeping oxalate’s relative supersaturation low enough to prevent formation of crystals and stones.

It also keeps the urine somewhere between slightly acidic and slightly alkaline to ideally prevent the formation of other types of bladder stones. [6]

This diet also comes as canned food.




poddle urinating pee on tree

What causes bladder stones in dogs?

The reasons for bladder stone formation are as different as each type of stone.

The most common reasons are infection, acidity or alkalinity of the urine, concentration of the urine, the presence of other stones and cells in the urine, metabolic issues or issues with kidney function.

There are several types of stones that occur in dogs with bladder stones. The most common being:

  • Struvite
  • Calcium Oxalate
  • Urate
  • Cystine 
  • Silica

Out of these Struvite, Oxalate, and Urate stones occur in the majority of dogs. Cystine and Silica stones occur almost exclusively in male dogs.

Some of these crystals could be dissolved while others can only be managed by a proper diet and medication. In the latter cases surgical intervention is always necessary. [7]

Struvite crystals form when urine is alkaline, while Urate and Cystine crystals form in acidic urine. Research shows that Calcium Oxalate can form in both acidic and alkaline environments.

While it was shown that bigger Oxalate crystals form in acidic environments the mechanism of how this happens is still unclear.

However, the formation of oxalate crystals can be mitigated by reducing the concentration of ions and metabolites in the urine that are necessary for their formation. [8]

Silica uroliths can be prevented by diets that are low in whole grains, cereals and vegetable material. These ingredients, particularly grains and cereals commonly accumulate silica.

Silica uroliths are also often associated with Calcium Oxalate. I

t is therefore suggested to avoid urine acidifying, oxalate-rich foods that can increase silica precipitation and stone formation. [9]

How diets for bladder stone work?

Most of these therapeutic diets work in a similar fashion. These types of dog food work by creating a low Relative SuperSaturation (RSS) value for Struvite and Oxalate in the urine.

The diet’s carefully balanced salt content also stimulates increased water intake, leading to increased kidney filtration and therefore increased urine dilution. Dog foods tackling Struvite and Oxalate stones  are formulated to make the urine more acidic.

This slows down stone precipitation and protects against urinary tract infections. All these processes work together to prevent the precipitation and formation of struvite and calcium oxalate stones. [10]

Diets target Urate and Cystine stones work using very similar principles. These diets use protein sources that have a high biological value (ex. egg product), low in purine (eg. plant sourced proteins) and low in salt.

They also maintain an alkaline urine environment to help prevent the formation of these two types of stones. [11]

What to look for when buying food for dogs with bladder stone issues?

It is important to know which type of bladder stones your dog is dealing with as choosing the wrong food could potentially make the situation worse. 

However, food for dogs with bladder stones usually have a number of common characteristics including:

  • They stimulate water intake.
  • They alter the acidity or alkalinity of the urine.
  • They achieve low Relative supersaturation levels of the stone forming substances they target.
  • They promote urinary tract health.

ALWAYS CONSULT A VETERINARIAN IF YOU SUSPECT YOUR DOG HAS BLADDER STONES.

Stones have to be examined in laboratories in order to definitely know their composition.

How can I prevent bladder stones?

If you suspect that your dog might develop urinary issues and possibly stones in the future, there are some non veterinary dog food that might help.

These usually refer to their urinary protective properties in their names or are targeted to particular breeds prone to urinary problems (including stones).

How can I get the most out of my Urinary Stone diet?

I always tell my clients that if Rover is prone to plumbing issues, the more water he gets into his system, the less chance he’ll have of things getting stuck.

The principle works by diluting urine and by keeping the relative supersaturation of stone-forming minerals and metabolites as dilute as possible.

If your dog is not a big fan of water, adding wet food to his food ration will help get that necessary fluid in their system by disguising it as something tasty.

This could potentially help manage your dog’s weight if they also have a weight problem. As discussed earlier, obesity can often lead to bladder stone issues. This way you’re hitting two birds with one stone.

What is Relative Super Saturation (RSS)?

Relative Super Saturation is the stuff that analytical chemistry nerds dream of.

The concept is often used to predict the size of crystals when chemists are precipitating them out of a solution. The idea behind it is that the slower the precipitation happens the bigger the crystals produced are.

However, nutritionists and veterinarians found a medical use for this concept. They deduced that by playing around with diet composition they could reach RSS values where precipitation would not only be slowed down but also prevented.

Some crystals like Struvite, can also be dissolved at a low enough RSS value.

Low RSS values are achieved by reducing the concentration of the offending mineral in the urine (often through urine diluation) and modifying urine acidity or alkalinity.

Struvite dissolution is achieved at RSS levels of below 1 and prevented at levels between 1 and 2.5. Oxalate cannot be dissolved but can be prevented at RSS values of below 14 but ideally below 10. [12, 13, 14]

dog sitting on toilet

Why does my dog have to undergo surgery if he has a struvite stone?

It is true that struvite stones can be dissolved by feeding the appropriate diet, however stones are usually always surgically removed.

Stones do not dissolve in one go. They gradually become smaller as undersaturation is maintained.

This process can sometimes cause complications as these can then travel down the urethra and cause a blockage.

Blockages like these happen mostly in male dogs but could also happen in females. This is a serious problem and would require emergency surgery. 

It is also common that stones are made of different kinds of material. You could have a struvite stone with an oxalate core.

Dissolving the struvite outer layer will not rid your dog from the problem. These diets are best used for prevention and management as bladder stones are often the result of underlying chronic conditions.

The Bottom Line

The above list is the best dog food for bladder stones that one can find on the market today. 

I personally really like how much research and effort Royal Canin have invested on their urinary diets. I like that they have struvite and oxalate diets for dogs at different life stages. I have seen a lot of dogs having to deal with them their whole lives and I really appreciate the attention to this detail. 

Hills urinary diets are an equally good option and while they do not cater to specific life stages, they have a lot of happy patients doing well on them.  

While I have no personal experience with Purina and Blue Buffalo urinary diets reviews on chewy often sing their praises. Purina and Blue Buffalo unfortunately do not have diets catering for dogs suffering from urate and cystine stones.

As a veterinarian, I like to stick to what has worked for me in the past. I therefore would use the Royal Canin and Hill’s products. Above all else, I prefer the Royal Canin S/O and Royal Canin UC diets as Royal Canin seems to have invested the most in the development of thoughtful urinary care diets. 

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