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  • Brianna McBeth

The Trials and Tribulations of Eljay the Miniature Schnauzer and His Quest for Urinary Health

Urinary issues.

They can be a challenging diagnosis to navigate.

Our journey started in 2018. My pets name is Eljay and he is a miniature schnauzer. When I first started working at Sylvan Lake Vet Clinic in 2015 it was recommended that we do a health exam on Eljay in order to sign him up for Pet Health Insurance. I was new to this whole pet insurance thing so I was like “sure lets do it”. When the Dr. examined Eljay, he mentioned that with the mini schnauzer breed they have a tendency to be “stoners” meaning they like to make bladder stones. I chuckled at the comment thinking “not my dog”. Well fast forward 3 years and my little baby had developed bladder stones.

He went for his first surgery on June 21, 2018. He had a very successful surgery, he recovered well, and we got him on his new food, which he will need to be on for life to help prevent these stones from happening again. His particular type of stone was an oxalate stone, which is the hardest stone to prevent from happening. We were diligent for 2 full years, where we performed routine urinalysis’ to aid in catching bladder infections early.

Everything was going really great, then BAM! November 12, 2020 he developed bladder stones again. He then had his 2nd surgery for bladder stones. We decided to try a different brand of food, but still sticking with the urinary component, hoping that maybe that had played a part in the repeat. We did good for a year…. then low and behold, we saw a tiny little stone forming on ultrasound.

I distinctly remember thinking; WHAT??! But I’m doing everything I can!?

It was a frustrating realization that this is just not going to go away. It was recommended that Eljay go and visit a specialist to see what we can do about this tiny little stone that was now forming and to maybe get some guidance on what we can do to help prevent this from reoccurring.

This time instead of a full surgery they were able to flush his bladder out in hopes that the little stone will just pass with the fluid. And it worked! Thank heavens, as I really didn’t want my baby to undergo another major surgery.

So, what we learned from the specialist appointment is the best way to help mange these pesky little stones is to make sure he doesn’t have bladder infections. Eljay is such a good boy… I never know when he has an infection. He gives me no signs of pain or that he is uncomfortable. They are always a surprise.

So now we test his urine every 3 months. Sometimes he has an infection… sometimes he does not. Bladder stones form in dogs for a couple of reasons. They can develop due to an long term infection within the bladder wall; which is usually the cause of struvite stones. They can also form due to certain breeds and how they metabolize their food, which results in issues within the bladder.

Bladder stones can also be caused by high mineral content in the bladder, this results in calcium oxalate stones. They can form quickly or slowly depending on the breed, age, PH level, or presence of infection in the bladder wall. Once they get stones they are at risk to have repeat issues, so they need to be placed on a urinary specific veterinary diet to help the bladder dissolve sediment build up and change the PH so that they can’t form again.

The next best piece of advice we learned is WATER WATER WATER.

Eljay is not the best water drinker and due to this, it concentrates his urine and messes with

his PH levels, which then in turn leads to another infection. So, we have bought him a water fountain. It keeps the water flowing, keeps it fresh, and keeps it filtered. So far so good (keep your fingers crossed) that he keeps drinking that water to keep the bladder flushed out!!!

Next thing we learned is to keep him on a urinary food. There are a few options for veterinary specific urinary foods from large reputable brands. These foods are specifically formulated to aid in the prevention of stone formation, though the processes involved do vary between brands, and the type of stone that they target. Your safest option when considering urinary foods, is having an open conversation with your veterinarian about what products would best suit your pet and their needs.


The last thing we learned is that there really is nothing more we can do. It’s just a schnauzer thing (some breeds are just more prone than others). He will keep making stones. We will just need to be vigilant to catch them early when they are small so we can flush them out.

Thank heavens for pet health insurance. I’m so glad that I listened and got him signed up before this became an issue. So far to date insurance has paid out over $8000 over 22 claims. I’m willing to testify that pet health insurance is the bees knees! Get those puppies and kitties insured! You won’t regret it. You may not see a return right away, but eventually you will need to decide “can we afford that?" and it’s not fun when you have to say “no”. So if your fur baby is a stoner like my fur baby, welcome to the club.

If you have any concerns about a pet starting on this journey, feel free to stop by or phone and I can talk you through this challenging diagnosis, so that you can relate on a more personal level.

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