Can Dogs Get Gout?
Gout is a disease that’s commonly experienced by humans but did you know that dogs can have gout too? Yes, unfortunately, man’s best friend has the potential to experience this debilitating condition as a result of excessive uric acid in the bloodstream.
It’s often a result of genes too with some dogs being more predisposed to the diseases such as Dalmatians, Whippets, German Shepherds, Irish Wolfhounds, Labrador Retrievers, and English Bulldogs.
This happens because their liver is not able to convert uric acid resulting in uric acid stones forming in the kidneys and bladder. Their unique metabolism doesn’t allow them to get rid of excess uric acid in the blood so instead of excreting soluble waste, these breeds produce insoluble uric acid.
The good news is that gout in dogs is exceedingly rare. It’s more closely related to bladder disease than it is to arthritis, so if your dog has gout, you need to pay extra attention to his bladder health. Gout in dogs can also be linked to diabetes, liver dysfunction, kidney disease, and hip dysplasia.
Gout in Dogs and Humans: The Differences
Both gout in dogs and humans are caused by high uric acid levels but symptoms can differ between the two. While humans develop uric acid crystal deposits in their joints, dogs develop uric acid crystals in the kidneys and bladder causing lesions and ulcerations in the stomach. This directly affects their urination making it painful, difficult, and more frequent.
If left untreated, uric acid crystals can clump together, form stones, and possibly get flushed down the urethra, blocking the entrance and making it difficult for your dog to urinate. This is where it becomes an emergency situation and you need to take your dog to the veterinarian for treatment.
Symptoms of Gout in Dogs
Gout in dogs commonly appear in the paws and toes and sometimes in the neck, elbow, ears, and even the tongue area. The most common area it appears is in the hind feet. These are other symptoms you need to watch out for as they indicate that your canine friend could have gout:
- Gait or limping
- Bloody urine
- Gritty urine
- Frequent urination in small amounts
- Straining to pass urine
- Straining, but not able to produce urine
- Lumps on the neck
- Lumps and bleeding in the paw/toe area
- Chalky white substance oozing out of lesions
- Stiff, painful joints
- Mood change
Some of these symptoms could be misdiagnosed for other conditions so it’s best to have your dog checked immediately by a veterinarian so they can get proper diagnosis and treatment.
Treatment for Gout in Dogs
Surgical correction is the quickest, easiest way to treat gout in dogs especially in situations where uric acid stones already block the urine passage. Another surgical method uses lasers or ultrasound waves to breakdown the stones, however, this technology is only available in specialized veterinary clinics.
These treatment methods are more expensive than most dog owners can afford so the next best solution is treating gout with antibiotic medication that helps clear up the infection. You can also apply emu oil to the affected area as it’s been known to help reduce swelling.
The vet may also recommend that you change your dog’s diet to one that’s low-protein and high fat to prevent the formation of crystals that cause the complication.
A fatty acid diet of raw egg yolks have been found to be helpful for dogs with gout as well as activated charcoal pills that help with metabolism problems. Diluted amounts of apple cider vinegar added to your pet’s food or water also helps lessen symptoms of canine gout as it balances healthy alkaline pH levels in their body.
As a dog owner, you are responsible for your pup’s health so make sure to give them the right medication on time and feed them a proper diet. For owners of breeds that are predisposed to canine gout, you may want to consider putting your dog on maintenance of allopurinol. It helps with gout by enabling the body to process and excrete uric acid through urination. Although it is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, your veterinarian can prescribe this to your dog as an extra-label drug.
Check for any growths on your dog’s skin and feel for any lumps or tumors. If you find anything unusual, take your pup to the veterinarian right away for a more thorough examination. Your vet will take a short medical history of your pup and perform a blood test to determine the amount of uric acid in the body.
You don’t want to depend entirely on medications because as mentioned before, it is not approved by the Food and Drug and Administration. Allopurinol for dogs can have negative side effects such as nausea, diarrhea, cramping, and pretty much an upset stomach. There’s a good reason why it’s prohibited by the FDA and should only be used as a last resort with proper prescription from the veterinarian.
If you own a dog breed predisposed to the condition, don’t give them vitamin C and B supplements as well as brewer’s yeast products. These are known to worsen gout symptoms by encouraging stone formation in the bladder.
Start with your dog’s diet. Strangely enough, the same low purine diet recommended for human gout sufferers also works well for dogs. Most fruits and vegetables, eggs, dairy products, whole grain pasta, and whole grain yeast-free bread are low-purine foods that can be fed to your dog.
Chicken, turkey, fish, shellfish, lamb, pork, beef, oats, and oatmeal are considered to have moderate level of purines and are acceptable to include in your dog’s diet, even for predisposed breeds.
Foods that should be completely avoided include organ meats (kidneys, livers, brains, hearts), game meats (venison and goose), mussels, scallops, sardines, mackerel, yeast, gravies, and some high purine veggies like kidney beans, navy beans, lima beans, lentils, mushrooms, peas, spinach, and cauliflower.
Also make sure that your dog is properly hydrated since it helps dilute uric acid in the body. Make it so water is easily accessible around your house or feed your dog with food that has high water content.
Dogs live a shorter life than humans and their bodies, being smaller than ours, can be much more vulnerable to diseases like gout. If you love your pet, make sure to take the proper precautions in protecting them against such conditions. Watch for any behavioral changes, check for anything unusual, and give them unconditional love and proper care. Your pup will give you love back ten folds!