The premium pet food company, Royal Canin, states it employs hundreds of nutritionists and veterinarians to research and develop specific dietary solutions for pets. While the company produces dog and cat foods formulated for certain breeds, body types and stages of life, it also sells a number of products designed to control or treat particular medical conditions. The company's Urinary SO line, for example, is formulated for dogs and cats that suffer from lower urinary tract disease. These special, condition-oriented products, including the Urinary SO line, often require a veterinary prescription to purchase them.
Lower Urinary Tract Disease (LUTD)
Lower urinary tract disease is a collective term describing a group of conditions that can affect the ureters, the bladder and the urethra of a dog or cat. These conditions include urinary tract infections, inflammation of the bladder, and crystals or stones in the urine. Some symptoms of the condition are difficulty urinating, urinating in small amounts or not at all, bloody urine and increased frequency of urination. Because the causes of LUTD are numerous, a vet will need to make the diagnosis. If LUTD is determined, your vet may recommend Urinary SO to help control or treat the condition.
Urinary SO 14 and Urinary SO 33
While special diets may help pets with LUTD, dogs and cats do have different nutritional needs. Royal Canin, therefore, created two formulations of Urinary SO: Urinary SO 14 for dogs and Urinary SO 33 for cats. Both are designed to promote a healthy urinary tract environment, but because of the nutritional requirements of each species, the amount of nearly every nutrient in the two foods is different. For example, a cat's protein needs are higher than most animals, including dogs. Urinary SO 33, therefore, contains more than twice the protein that Urinary SO 14 does. Dogs, on the other hand, don't require the amino acid arginine to the degree that cats do, and this is reflected in the amounts contained in the two foods. The dry formulation of Urinary SO 33 has 5 gm. per 1,000 calories, while the Urinary SO 14 has only 2.7 gm. per 1,000 calories. The differences between the canned versions are even more evident. Canned Urinary SO 14 has only 2.0 gm. of arginine per 1,000 calories, while Urinary SO 33 has 5 gm. per 1,000 calories in the 6 oz. can and 5.7 gm. per 1,000 calories in the 3 oz. can.
While your pet may benefit from a Urinary SO diet, there are some conditions that contraindicate this food. Dogs or cats that are still growing or are pregnant or nursing should not be on the diet. Dogs that currently have pancreatitis, hyperlipidemia or use urinary acidifiers should not eat Urinary SO 14. Cats that are currently using urinary acidifiers should not eat the dry form of Urinary SO 33.
"The Whole Dog Journal" recommends always reading the label of the prescription food you're considering, warning that in many cases, the ingredients are not as good as those in top-quality non-medical foods. Once you find a prescription food you and your vet approve, the journal suggests you monitor your pet's health closely while it is on the diet. If the prescription food does not improve your pet's condition within a few weeks, you should consider another product.
While many vets recommend prescription diets for their patients with LUTD, not all vets agree. Dr. Lisa Pierson, veterinarian and owner of the website CatInfo, says she rarely uses prescription diets for LUTD in cats, reserving them only for rare cases. Instead, she suggests focusing more on dietary water content, explaining that water is the most important factor in maintaining a healthy urinary tract system. Pierson, therefore, strongly advocates feeding cats canned food, not dry.
While Pierson's focus is on cats, Dr. Jodi Westropp, an Assistant Professor at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, includes dogs as well when she repeats the sentiment in her own piece, "Protocol for Struvite Dissolution in Dogs and Cats." Westropp states that the higher moisture content of canned formulations is helpful in stone prevention. You should always listen to the advice of your veterinarian, however. Your vet is familiar with your pet's specific case and individual needs and likely knows what is best for it.