To understand your pet’s urine ph, it’s important to understand the Ph scale. Seven is neutral, everything above 7 is alkaline, everything below 7 is acidic.
Cats and dogs, being carnivores, are designed to have a slightly acidic urine Ph -- optimally between 6 and 6.5.
Dogs and cats, of course, are designed to eat meat, and this diet drops their urine into this slightly acidic range. Vegetarian animals, like goats and horses, have a more alkaline urine because they eat primarily grains and grasses.
A problem arises, however, when dogs and cats, which are designed to eat meat, are fed a grain-based diet, as is the case with many commercial dog and cat foods. This causes their urine to become more alkaline, which may lead to three major problems.
The Bladder Risks of Feeding Your Pet a High-Grain Diet
Three major problems come about when dogs or cats develop alkaline urine:
Infection, because the natural bladder defenses are unable to maintain the urine’s correct Ph. Urine is sterile when kept at the appropriate 6 to 6.5 Ph, but when it creeps up toward the alkaline side the urine loses it’s natural defenses becomes more hospitable environment for infection to occur.
Cystitis (bladder inflammation). Cats especially can end up with chronic inflammation of the bladder, a painful condition that can lead to bleeding and secondary infection.
Urinary crystals or stones. When a urine Ph becomes alkaline, minerals can settle out of the urine and form crystals, which are microscopic, sharp particles that irritate and inflame the bladder. If crystals remain in the bladder long enough, they can fuse together to form stones.
So a healthy urine Ph is incredibly important for your pet’s bladder health, not only to prevent infection but also chronic inflammation, crystals and stones.
What to Do if You Suspect Your Pet Has a Bladder Problem
If your pet is urinating outside the litter box or around the house, it could be an indication of a bladder problem. In this case, it’s important that you drop a urine sample off with your veterinarian so they can perform a urinalysis.
A urinalysis will provide valuable information about why your pet is having urinary problems. In addition to providing information about the presence of blood, protein, glucose, keytones and bilirubin, a urinalysis will also determine how well your pet can concentrate his or her urine … a good indication of kidney health. Urinalysis will also detect white blood cells, which means there is inflammation or infection, and a urine culture and sensitivity can determine if bacteria is present, and what type, to help devise a treatment plan.
If an infection is present, medication may be needed to treat the problem. However, sometimes pets experience inflammation or crystals without any infection present. In this latter case a different set of medications may initially be needed, but ultimately, in both situations, this is often a sign that it may be time to change their diet.
What Type of Diet is Best for Your Pet’s Bladder Health?
If your pet is experiencing chronic bladder problems, poor or improper diet is the culprit in the vast majority of cases.
A prescription diet, which many vets may offer you, typically combines high-carb foods with medications to drop your pet's urine Ph. Doesn't it make much more sense to feed your pet a food that does not contain those alkalizing carbohydrates, and that is naturally low in carbs?
By feeding your pet a species-appropriate, raw food diet, which will naturally be low in carbs, you can often help them achieve a perfect urinary Ph balance without the need for poor-quality prescription diets.