Updated August 12, 2017 at 3:23 PM
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Q11: How Can I Prevent Kidney/Bladder Stones? There are several factors that can cause stones. Some of the most common are: Urine pH. pH is an indicator of acidity level. It can be measured via hydrogen ion concentration. a pH of 7 is neutral, below 7 is acidic and above 7 is alkaline. Generally, dogs tend to have slightly acidic urine around 6 - 6.5. Unfortunately, calcium oxalate stones have a propensity to form in acidic to neutral urine. Urine pH needs to be measure immediately upon voiding from the bladder for it to be accurate.
Have your vet check this while assessing your Chi's symptoms. If the pH is low then you can reduce the acidity of your Chi's diet to reduce the likelihood of stone formation. The addition of 1 tablespoon of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) or better yet, potassium bicarbonate per liter of water to your Chi's water and/or food may help. Bacterial infection. The vet should also culture the inside of one of the stones to determine if bacteria is the cause, since urine is supposed to be sterile. You can also have a culture performed of your Chi's urine without the stones, but it must be performed against a fresh sample of urine, because bacteria will invade it very quickly once it leaves the body. If the culture is positive, then the vet can test several antibiotics on it to see which is most effective. and treat the Chi with that antibiotic. Dehydration. Insufficient liquid intake can result in a higher concentration of minerals in the urine. This can result in more frequent occurrence of stones. Encourage your Chi to drink lots of water. Infrequent urination.
The longer the urine stays in the bladder, the more likely the minerals can condense and crystallize to form stones. Try to encourage your Chi to urinate 6 or more times a day if he/she is prone to stones. Hard water. If you live near the beach or other lowland areas, then your tap water is likely hard, meaning that it has a higher mineral content than normal. You can use a water filter to reduce the mineral content of the water, or even buy distilled water to eliminate all mineral content, if your Chi has ongoing struggles with stones. Avoid spring water, however, since it can also be high in mineral content.
Diet. An imbalance of nutrients or a diet that is too high in certain minerals or too low in others can increase the likelihood of stone formation.
This is a very complex topic and there are dozens of chemical processes that can be involved. in general however, if the stones are calcium oxalate, increase the amount of magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium in the diet. Increasing dietary magnesium and phosphorus decreases the amount of calcium in the urine, and increasing dietary calcium reduces absorption of oxalates from the intestines. Potassium citrate may help prevent calcium oxalate stone formation because it forms a soluble complex with oxalates and promotes the formation of alkaline urine. Some people use 1 tablespoon of potassium citrate combined with a tablespoon of potassium bicarbonate mentioned above in a 1:1 ratio added per liter of water as a preventative. Genetic factors.
There isn't a lot you can do about this, but some dogs are just predisposed to the formation of stones because of abnormalities or genetic mutations. You can ask your breeder if other owners have reported problems with their Chi's. If it turns out that your Chi is prone, then I would recommend using most or all of the tips mentioned above to help minimize the frequency and severity of stone formation. Disease. Sometimes kidney/bladder stones are symptoms of another illness. A thorough medical evaluation is recommended to help rule out other health problems. Aging. Some dogs, especially males, become more prone to stone formation as they age because of changes in hormone levels. In addition to the preventative measures mentioned above, hormone replacement therapy may also be a possible solution.
Q12: At what age can I start walking my Chi on a leash? The earlier you start teaching her, the better. You need to use a halter rather than a collar. A halter spreads the force of a leash across her chest, rather than focusing it on her neck.I would start by having her wear the halter for a little while each day.
You may want to start out with only 5-10 minutes, if it seems to bother her. Then gradually increase the time as she adjusts to wearing it. After she is comfortable with the halter, you can start leash training in the house. Just connect the leash and coach her to walk in the "heel" position, which is just to the left or right of you, and slightly behind your outside foot (with her chest about even with your heel). Thsi is the safest spot for her while walking. As you gently guide her on these initial "walks", give her lots of engouragement when she does it correctly, but don't scold her if she doesn't "get it" right away. Try to keep enough tension on the leash so she doesn't play with it or walk on it.
Don't drag her, but use enough force so that she can feel the slight tug forward as you encourage her forward with your gestures and words. You can also use treats as rewards if you wish, although I prefer not to do so. I want "encouragement" to be the reward for good behavior. It has always given me the best long-term results from training.As she begins to understand and respond to the leash, you can gradually increase the time and distance. Be patient here, and it will pay great dividends when she graduates to "outside" walking with all of the distractions that will arise.Feel free to introduce verbal and/or hand signals if you want her to have great manners and control.
This would be the time to start introducing the heel position. Have her sit when you stop, and walk in the heel position when you walk.When she is ready to move outdoors, take short walks initially and gradually increase the time and distance.Please let us know if you discover any other tips that help.