Do Dog Rocks Really Prevent UTIs in Dogs? The Controversial Truth

What are Dog Rocks?

Dog Rocks are a product marketed to prevent lawn burn from dog urine by altering urine pH. They are rocks that are placed in a dog’s water bowl to naturally change the pH of the dog’s urine. According to the manufacturer, Dog Rocks Australia, the rocks are mined in the center of Australia and consist of a combination of zeolite and basalt minerals.

When placed in a dog’s water bowl, Dog Rocks release trace amounts of minerals and electrolytes. This is claimed to cause a slight alkaline shift in a dog’s urine pH, bringing it closer to neutral. The idea is that more neutral urine pH will prevent those unsightly brown patches that can occur when dog urine “burns” grass or landscaping.

The Dog Rocks website states the product is all-natural, non-toxic, and the minerals within the rocks will not affect the health of dogs. The rocks simply dissolve slowly to infuse water with pH-altering minerals. One pack of Dog Rocks is said to be effective for 2 months before needing replacement.

Dog Rocks have been sold internationally since 2004. They can be purchased online, in pet stores, and in some lawn and garden centers. The manufacturer claims the rocks provide a safe, natural alternative to products that alter dog food or use harsh chemicals in yards.

How Do Dog Rocks Work?

Dog Rocks are a product containing calcium bentonite clay rocks that are designed to be placed in a dog’s water bowl. The rocks contain trace minerals that are claimed to work in two ways:

First, the rocks absorb and bind to compounds like nitrates that can contribute to urine burning grass. By absorbing these compounds before they pass through the dog’s system, the rocks aim to reduce lawn burn spots (Dog Rocks – Homepage).

Second, the minerals in the rocks are said to alter the pH of the dog’s urine to more neutral levels around 6.5-7. Since alkaline urine is thought to contribute to lawn burn, lowering pH may help reduce damage (How Do Dog Rocks Work? It’s Simpler and Safer Than You …).

However, some claim the rocks do not actually alter urine pH significantly and mainly work by absorbing excess nitrogen compounds (Dog Rocks – Do They Prevent Lawn Burn?).

Can Altered Urine pH Cause UTIs?

Some research indicates that urine pH can influence the growth of bacteria that commonly cause urinary tract infections (UTIs). Usually, acidic urine creates an environment that restricts bacterial growth, while alkaline urine promotes bacterial proliferation.

A 2021 study published in Pediatrics and Neonatology analyzed over 5,000 pediatric UTI cases and found that infections with Proteus mirabilis and Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria were associated with the highest urine pH levels, often alkaline.1 Another study also showed that alkaline urine allowed urease-producing bacteria like Proteus mirabilis to thrive and encouraged the formation of struvite crystals that can lead to blockages.2

Therefore, higher urine pH may promote growth of certain UTI-causing bacteria. However, urine pH is not the only factor as many elements can contribute to UTIs in dogs.

Evidence Linking Dog Rocks to UTIs

There have been some anecdotal reports from dog owners claiming that Dog Rocks are linked to an increase in urinary tract infections (UTIs) in their pets. However, there is currently no scientific evidence to support a direct causal relationship between Dog Rocks and UTIs.

a dog drinking from a water bowl containing dog rocks.

Some owners have reported noticing an increase in UTIs after starting to use Dog Rocks. They suspect the rocks alter the pH balance of the dog’s urine, making it more alkaline, which could potentially allow bacteria to thrive and cause infection.[1] However, these reports are purely anecdotal and there have been no controlled studies on the effects of Dog Rocks on urine pH or UTIs in dogs.

The makers of Dog Rocks claim their product is 100% natural and does not affect urine pH or cause any harm to dogs.[2] Some veterinarians also state there is no evidence linking the rocks to UTIs or other health issues when used as directed.[3]

While individual dogs may potentially experience more UTIs while using Dog Rocks, there is currently no scientific proof that the rocks directly cause infections. More research would be needed to determine if there is a true correlation.

At this time, the connection between Dog Rocks and increased UTIs appears to be speculative. Dog owners should monitor their pet’s health, but not assume the rocks will lead to infection in every dog.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Dog-Rocks-Natural-Solution-Prevents/product-reviews/B003YC67FI/
[2] https://podiumpetproducts.com/dog-rocks-side-effects/
[3] https://bendpetexpress.com/product/dog-rocks-grass-burn-prevention-dog/

Other Causes of UTIs in Dogs

Urinary tract infections in dogs are most often caused by bacteria that enter through the urethra and travel up to infect the bladder. The most common bacteria implicated in UTIs are E. coli, Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, and Proteus species (https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/urinary-tract-infections-utis-in-dogs).

Certain anatomical factors can increase a dog’s risk of developing UTIs. Female dogs have a shorter urethra compared to males, making it easier for bacteria to ascend into the bladder. Spayed females are also more prone to UTIs due to reduced estrogen levels leading to thinner bladder walls (https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/urinary-tract-infections-uti-in-dogs/).

Other health conditions like diabetes, Cushing’s disease, kidney stones, bladder stones, bladder cancer, and prostate problems can predispose dogs to recurrent UTIs. Any abnormality or disease affecting the urinary tract increases susceptibility to infection (https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/riney-canine-health-center/health-info/urinary-tract-infections).

Preventing UTIs in Dogs

a dog receiving affection from its owner.

There are several ways veterinarians and experts recommend trying to prevent UTIs in dogs, including focusing on hygiene, diet, and monitoring for signs of infection.

According to Small Door Veterinary1, you can help prevent UTIs by providing fresh, clean water daily, regular grooming around the urinary opening, and regular bathing. Keeping the genital area clean can help reduce bacteria that may enter the urinary tract.

Some vets may recommend cranberry supplements or probiotics to help promote urinary tract health, but evidence is limited on their effectiveness according to Tufts2. There are specially formulated veterinary diets for dogs prone to UTIs that may be recommended.

It’s also important to monitor for signs of a UTI, like frequent urination, straining, blood in the urine, or crying when urinating. Catching an infection early allows for quicker treatment. Let your vet know if your dog has had recurrent UTIs as they may recommend further steps for prevention.

Alternatives to Dog Rocks

Instead of using Dog Rocks to attempt to alter your dog’s urine pH, there are several other effective options for preventing urine spots and lawn burn:

Use a dog-friendly grass variety that is more resistant to dog urine, such as tall fescue, Buffalo grass, or zoysia grass. These grasses have properties that make them more hardy against dog urine.

Install a dog-friendly ground cover in areas your dog frequents, like wood chips, pea gravel, or artificial turf. These materials hold up better to dog urine and activity.

Train your dog to urinate in a designated potty area, using sod or clover, which is more resistant to burn spots.

Use sprinklers or immediately rinse the grass after your dog urinates to dilute the urine and prevent lawn spots.

Apply a liquid lawn fertilizer after your dog goes outside to help counteract nitrogen loss and encourage hardy grass growth.

The Bottom Line

a healthy green lawn without dog urine spots.

The overall evidence does not conclusively link Dog Rocks to increased UTIs in dogs.

While Dog Rocks do lower the pH of urine, which can allow bacteria to thrive, there are only anecdotal reports from owners claiming their dogs experienced more UTIs after using Dog Rocks. No scientific studies have proven a direct correlation. Many factors influence UTI risk besides urine pH.

However, some veterinarians advise against routinely altering urine pH, as a precaution. They recommend discontinuing Dog Rocks if recurrent UTIs develop.

Most dogs tolerate Dog Rocks without issues. But owners should monitor for potential side effects like increased thirst/urination. Consider alternative options if problems arise.

Talk to your vet if concerned about Dog Rocks. They can evaluate your dog’s UTI risk and make individualized recommendations on preventing urine burn spots safely.

What To Do If Your Dog Has Frequent UTIs

If your dog is experiencing frequent UTIs, it’s important to seek veterinary advice to determine the underlying cause and proper treatment. Some tips:

  • Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian for an exam, urinalysis, and urine culture. This will allow diagnosis and identification of the type of bacteria causing the infection.
  • Follow your vet’s treatment recommendations, which may include prescription antibiotics like amoxicillin or Zeniquin for 7-14 days [1].
  • Give all medications as directed until the infection is completely cleared up.
  • Discuss any potential predisposing factors with your vet, like anatomy, underlying illnesses, or urinary stones. Address any issues to help prevent recurrent UTIs.
  • Implement any recommended prevention strategies, like dietary changes, probiotics, or urinary acidifiers/alkalinizers.
  • Monitor your dog’s urination habits closely and check for signs of another UTI, like frequent urination, accidents, discomfort, blood, or foul smell.
  • Schedule any recommended follow up tests to ensure the infection has resolved.

a happy dog wagging its tail after recovering from a uti.

By partnering with your vet to diagnose, treat, and prevent recurrent UTIs, you can help get your dog feeling healthy again while prioritizing their wellbeing. Stay vigilant, follow medical advice, and be proactive with prevention strategies.

FAQs

Here are some common questions and answers about Dog Rocks and their potential link to UTIs in dogs:

Do Dog Rocks really cause UTIs?

There is no definitive scientific evidence showing that Dog Rocks directly cause UTIs in dogs. However, some veterinarians theorize that altering the pH balance of a dog’s urine could potentially increase their risk of developing UTIs. According to Dr. Justine Lee, DVM, Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care, “Changing the pH of urine could potentially allow more bacterial growth” (Dog Rocks Side Effects). More research is needed to determine if Dog Rocks have a direct causal relationship with UTIs.

How could Dog Rocks be linked to UTIs?

The thinking is that Dog Rocks make urine more alkaline, which could allow certain bacteria like E. coli to thrive, increasing the chance of a UTI. However, Dog Rocks state that their product does not actually change urine pH, so the validity of this theory is questionable (Dog Rocks – FAQ).

What should I do if I think Dog Rocks caused my dog’s UTI?

Stop using Dog Rocks and take your dog to the vet if you notice symptoms like frequent urination, pain when urinating, blood in the urine, or excessive licking of the genital area. The vet can run tests to diagnose a UTI and provide appropriate treatment with antibiotics and medications to soothe urinary tract inflammation. Be sure to follow your vet’s recommendations for monitoring and prevention.

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