The topic of purine issues is of particular interest to me because I have a new puppy that suffers from purine stone issues. This means I need to avoid foods that contain high amounts of purine to avoid purine crystals and stones from developing and still be able to provide enough high quality protein for proper growth and good health.
Foods high in purines include the following:
- Red meats, such as beef, lamb, pork
- Wild game, such as venison, elk, and bison (very high in purines)
- Organ meat, such as liver and kidney
- Fish and sardines packed in oil
- Brewer's yeast
Most vegetables and grains are low in purines. However, dogs are carnivores and do not do well on diets high in carbohydrates. Dogs need animal-based proteins to ensure they are getting all the amino acids they need to maintain healthy heart, liver and kidney function.
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Most prescription diets that are marketed for dogs with purine crystal and stone issues consist primarily of carbohydrates. Most are 'vegetarian' diets, which have not been fully tested for effectiveness. Carbohydrates also contain purines and purines in the diet only bring 30% of the purines to the system. So what is the best way to deal with this difficult problem?
My suggestion is to feed animal proteins that are the lowest in purines. These include eggs and dairy products. For dogs, whole milk yogurt and cottage cheese are good choices. These foods have no more, and in most cases, less purine content than many carbohydrates. Avoid oatmeal, bran, wheat bran and lentils.
In past newsletters, I offered specific recipes. However, in this newsletter, I offer diet suggestions that will need to be adjusted depending on the extent of your dog's purine problem. If your dog has severe or multiple liver shunt problems, you may need to be more cautious and feed only foods that are low in purines. For those of you that have dogs with other purine issues, such as having a breed of dog that has genetic purine issues or a dog with a single or small liver shunt issue can use a broader range of animal proteins.
A dog that is moderately affected can still be fed a diet that is 75% protein and 25% carbohydrates. A sample diet would be one where approximately 50% of the diet consists of plain yogurt, cottage cheese, and eggs, 25% chicken or turkey, and 25% potatoes, rice, winter squash and zucchini.
However, dogs more severely affected may not be able to tolerate that much chicken and turkey. If that is the case, a higher ratio of rice and starches (30% – 50%) would be necessary.
Most importantly, when you have a dog with purine crystal and stone issues, continue to have your dog's urine and pH monitored regularly. This will not only help you assess the diet, it will help you keep a careful watch for any crystals or stone formation. A high quality protein, low-purine diet can help keep the crystals and stones to a minimum and it will provide quality nutrition for your dog.
Supplements are also beneficial for dogs with purine and urate crystals and stone issues. These include the following:
- Small Breeds: 25 mg daily
- Medium Breeds: 50 mg daily
- Large Breeds: 75 mg daily
- 1000mg per 10 – 20 pounds of body weight daily
Calcium citrate (for home made diets, not commercial)
- 900 mg per pound of food served
Be sure to keep your pets safe and indoors!
Remember; do not feed chocolate to your dogs!
Large amounts can be lethal for dogs!