01.05.2008

Autumn, Animals and Cystitis

It is autumn and, yes, cats especially, but also dogs,do tend to get more infections of the bladder in thisweather. I do see this sometimes as a result of animalswho hate getting wet being unwilling to go out in therain to wee in the garden, and thus getting a retentioncystitis (as you may get sitting for long periods oftime while travelling, for example).

Another explanation comes from traditional Chinesemedicine, which sees weather as effecting our health.TCM describes cystitis as "damp in the lower burner"and is therefore expected to be more common in dampor rainy weather.

Regardless of the cause, cystitis is a common problemin cats and dogs.

When you must visit the vet
A very important point here is that male animals, especiallycats, can get a totally obstructed urethra within hoursfrom bladder stones that can accompany a bladder infection,so any male cat or dog seen repeatedly straining tourinate must be taken immediately for veterinary attention,as bladder obstruction can cause death quite quickly.

Female animals have a wider urethra so can sometimesbe safely treated at home. However, it is always betterto have the vet check the pet if this is a first timeproblem.

Acidifying the urine
An important point in treating cystitis isthat cats and dogs need an acidic urine, ideally aboutpH 5.5 to 6. This acidic urine will usually dissolvebladder stones and make bacterial infection very unlikely,as the bacteria cannot usually survive in an acidicurine. Therefore, giving plenty of water to drink (todilute the urine) and dosing with a pinch to a teaspoonof ascorbic acid powder twice daily can settle the problemdown quickly. You must use this acidic form of vitaminC (sodium ascorbate or calcium ascorbate are respectivelyalkaline or neutral so cannot be used). Acidifying theurine can reduce cystitis markedly in hours.

Homeopathics to treat cystitis
Homeopathic remedies follow the same descriptions ofsymptoms as with human cystitis.
I rarely name a particular homeopathic remedy for acertain condition, but I have to say that homeopathicCantharis (use a 6C or 30C potency) is usually effectivein reducing the painful straining to urinate (of a femalepet, or a male which is under veterinary treatment).Thalaspi Bursa can help reduce the inflammation or Lycopodiumcan help if "gravel" is present in the urine,and the animal is at its worst between about 4pm and8pm. Staphysagria is a good remedy for breeding animalsor if they have recently had surgery, especially a sterilisationoperation. A large percentage of cats are found by vetsto have "sterile" or "idiopathic"cystitis, where there are no bacteria or other causesfound. In such cases there may be an emotional cause,such as moving house, a cat fight etc, and homeopathicsand herbs are sometimes the only useful treatment whenthe vet cannot find a cause or cure. Vets may treatthese cases with Valium or another anti-anxiety drug,which can help to settle things initially, but homeopathicsor flower essences are likely to resolve the underlyingemotional issue more specifically.
It is, however, necessary to get a vet to diagnose theproblem first if the problem does not resolve withinhours using the above treatments.

Diet
Recent research shows that feeding cats dried food canworsen bladder problems as the urine becomes more concentrated.Some dried foods are specifically made for this condition,and are more acidic and contain less magnesium (a componentof bladder stones). However, the high carbohydrate contentof all dried cat and dog foods also reduces full glycogenmetabolism in the liver, and reduces glutathione basedantioxidation, thus reducing innate immunity, so feedingraw meat/bone, fish etc is a much better long term optionthan dried food for a cat or dog predisposed to bladderproblems. Raw meat produces acidic urine a few hoursafter it is eaten, giving the bladder a good acidic"wash out".

Herbs to treat cystitis
For less severe, chronic or ongoing cystitis,the correctly chosen homeopathic remedies plus herbs(barberry, couch, parsley, crataeva, corn silk, dandelionleaf, echinacea) can have a greater long term successrate than antibiotics according to research literature,for chronic or recurrent cystitis, even of bacterialorigin. I do not find cranberry to be as effective inanimals as it is in people. Maybe this is due to thefact that humans benefit from the urine being more alkaline,whereas the carnivorous pets need to have their urineacidified, an important difference between treatinghumans and cats/dogs. Chinese herbs work very well,probably the best, when treating cystitis. These arebest chosen by a practitioner of Chinese medicine, asthey are prescribed to suit the animal: some patientsare "hot" (and will need cooling herbs), somepatients are "cold" animals (and will needheating herbs), or they are yin (weak, deficient, sowill need strengthening herbs) or yang (excitable, irritable,hyperactive animals who need calming or moderating herbs),so different herb combinations will be required forthe different types of patient. Herbs are so effectivefor bladder problems in general. In fact, some herbformulas (in double blinded placebo trials) have beenfound to be of greater effectiveness and resulting inlesser recurrence rate of the condition in any patienttype than the appropriately chosen antibiotic.

This long term milder type of cystitis is more commonin older dogs, including those who show incontinence,especially female dogs. It is a good idea to take aurine sample to your vet to verify the pH, infectionor crystal formation status (which can lead to bladderstones) of the urine before starting treatment, so afollow up sample can be checked a few weeks after theherbs are started to assess the results of treatment.

The best results for treating cystitis, then, are acombination of vet diagnosis and emergency treatment,with ongoing monitoring of urine. Better still, is reducingthe likelihood of developing an ongoing problem - throughdiet, herbs, flower essences and homeopathics.

Dr Clare Middle BVMS CVAc CVHom is a qualified holisticveterinarian.
She welcomes your questions On animal health and diet.
Please send them to editorial@novamagazine.com.au

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