UPDATE: Please see this link for all of this info compiled more clearly: https://thegivinggoathome.files.wordpress.com/2020/08/urinary-calculi-in-goats.pdf
Well, this sure took some research. I've been working hard, and I've done a deep dive into the topic of Urinary Calculi.
Before you get into reading this, let me describe what it is. There are a lot of myths, a lot of ideas, a lot of theories out there on Urinary Calculi. So I decided to take the ones I've heard and figure out why they are recommended, how they work, etc.
So this is a treatment analysis that includes fact-checking some myths, some new ideas and ALTERNATIVE TREATMENTS, and my goal is just to provide some options and some new thoughts to consider! This took quite a bit of time and research, but it's not polished, and of course none of it is proven. Enjoy!!
DISCLAIMER: These are simply thoughts, notes, and ideas on Urinary Calculi. None of these "treatment" options are guaranteed to work in ANY way, please consult a vet.
There are two main causes for Urinary Stones we see in male goats. The first is caused by too much phosphorus, often the overfeeding of grain. These stones are called magnesium ammonium phosphate stones
, or in humans, struvite stones. The second cause is calcium stones, which are often due to hard well water or the overfeeding of alfalfa, these are called calcium oxalate stones.
While both of these result in Urinary Calculi, the treatment path differs between the two. If we can know the cause of each case of Urinary Calculi, we can gear treatments better-and we may even be able to have more successful prognoses for these situations.
I saw Urinary Calculi as a dilemma for goat owners due to (1) frequent poor prognoses; (2) limited treatment options-including self-treatments or holistic treatments; and (3) limited studies and knowledge of the issue.
My goal was to take a closer look at the specific causes for UC, to research the current treatment options available, and to consider new options for treatment of this awful issue affecting goat farmers and pet goat owners all over the world.
I will also be discussing a few known alternative treatments for UC:
- Home Remedy by Hoegger Farmyard
- Fruit Fresh
- Apple Cider Vinegar
**And I will discuss newer alternatives as well.
Most cases of UC are due to an imbalance (too much) of phosphorus. Current treatment for these stones (and all stones) is the administration of ammonium chloride
. Ammonium chloride is an acidifying agent,
which is what is needed to treat this type of UC.
Options that MAY work for alternative treatments to ACIDIFY urine and dissolve these stones include:
- Cranberry Juice
- Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
- Vinegar (NOT apple cider vinegar)
- Prune Juice (FYI, high amounts may have laxative effect)
All of these are acidifying agents.
WHY APPLE CIDER VINEGAR WON'T WORK FOR "PHOSPHORUS-CAUSED STONES"
Unlike most other vinegars, apple cider vinegar results in an alkalizing effect, therefore it will not acidify urine in cases of magnesium ammonium phosphate stones.
ON VITAMIN C:
Vitamin C, a.k.a., ascorbic acid, has shown to have an acidifying effect on urine pH. A similar acid, citric acid, DOES NOT have the same effect. Both of these acids can be found in lemon juice. Thus, lemon juice is often included in alternative treatment options. Citric acid is metabolized by bicarbonate in the body, and, unfortunately, once metabolized, it will not likely acidify the urine. Lemon juice is highly acidic due to the citric acid-however, as said above, once lemon juice is metabolized in the body, it will actually have an ALKALIZING effect. It is for this reason, that lemon juice should not be used to treat "phosphorus-caused" stones.
While straight Vitamin C
is best, a product called Fruit Fresh
has been used in alternative UC treatments. This contains both ascorbic acid and citric acid. While it is true that citric acid will not aid in acidifying urine, there have been no studies to show that citric acid alone, without other byproducts in lemon juice, can cause urine pH to be more alkaline. Thus, it should not have any negative effect on treatment in the Fruit Fresh. Fruit Fresh, due to the ascorbic acid in it, may be a suitable alternative treatment. However, straight Vitamin C would be preferred.
A NOTE ON BAKING SODA:
As said above, citric acid is metabolized by bicarbonate in the body. While goats produce natural bicarbonate, adding extra bicarbonate through baking soda may increase the metabolization of citric acid. Citric acid aside, baking soda has an alkalizing effect on the body. For this reason, baking soda should never be offered free choice to male goats - and if it is needed for a case of bloat, use for only short periods of time.
WHY HOEGGER FARMYARD'S RECIPE MAY NOT WORK FOR "PHOSPHORUS CAUSED STONES"
The recipe from Hogger is as follows:
½ red onion
Juice from 3 lemons
6 garlic pods
¼ cup vinegar
As stated above, lemon juice may do more harm than good for treating this particular kind of stone. We will discuss onion later on, however, I have also come to the conclusion that there are no obvious acidifying effects from the onion in this recipe. The vinegar is the acidifying agent in this situation. It would be beneficial to use vinegar without these other ingredients.
These stones are tricky, and there have been many misconceptions regarding them. Calcium oxalate stones will appear in urine whether it is acidic or alkaline, it is purely dietary with to relation to pH. Treatment for these stones is much more difficult. While they are much less common than the other, these stones also require a very different treatment method.
Options may include:
- Vitamin C (not for acidifying purposes, but to prevent the union of calcium and oxalate, which would form new stones)
- Vinegar (apple cider vinegar is okay in this situation, because we want the acetic acids and other acids, not the pH effect)
- Vitamin B6
- Magnesium (magnesium citrate)
may prevent the union of calcium and oxalates in the body. In doing so, it will prevent more stones from forming and/or combing to make larger stones.
contains acetic and phosphoric acids. While again, we are not looking for an acidifying effect, these acids in particular may increase the amount of moisture urinary stones are able to absorb, therefore softening them and allowing them to break down easier. Vinegar also contains citrate, which binds urinary calcium and oxalate crystals to prevent formation and growth.
also helps with calcium oxalate stones. Onions are high in B6, however, complete B Complex supplements may be useful in treatment for calcium oxalate stones.
, similar to B6, may be one of the most important (and under-studied) factors in calcium oxalate stone treatment. Magnesium has the ability to keep calcium in "solution." It prevents calcium from crystallizing. Magnesium citrate (a supplement for humans) is a well-absorbed form that can be used to dissolve calcium oxalate stones.
The Hoegger Farmyard Home Remedy MAY WORK
for "Calcium-caused" stones:
½ red onion
Juice from 3 lemons
6 garlic pods
¼ cup vinegar
While I feel that this may not be a successful treatment in cases of "phosphorus-caused" stones, it would certainly be something you could try along with other treatment measures for calcium oxalate stones. And while I recommend against lemon due to it increasing urine pH, in calcium oxalate stones, pH is not relevant and lemon juice may have some added citrates (but vinegar alone is good enough) to help.
Ammonium chloride as an acidifying agent, if you have calcium oxalate stones, this may not be a successful treatment.
Know what type of stone you are treating. While one relies on acidifying agents, the other relies on calcium oxalate binding agents. I believe that the misunderstandings regarding the treatments for specific types of UC may partially be why treatment is not highly successful.
BUT WHAT ABOUT PREVENTION TECHNIQUES?
Preventing "phosphorus-caused" UC:
Ammonium chloride, a well known UC preventative, should be very effective in preventing this type of UC.
However, the common recommendation of adding apple cider vinegar to water will likely do more harm this good if you feed large amounts of grain/phosphorus. It has an alkalizing effect on urine pH, despite common beliefs.
Preventing "calcium-caused" UC:
In the case of a diet too high in calcium (hard well water, high alfalfa consumption) apple cider vinegar as an addition to water may prove helpful. As you recall from above, the pH does not matter, it is the acetic acid, phosphoric acid, and citrate that dissolve and prevent calcium-oxalate stones.
Providing suitable dietary magnesium to balance high calcium may, in fact, be one of the best preventative methods for calcium oxalate stones in goats.
Please do not hesitate to contact a vet in a case of Urinary Calculi. These home remedies are not guaranteed to work, and most have not even been tested on goats.