by Dr. Cayla Iske, PhD
The next supplement in our “Getting to Know Supplements” series is Natural Science Urinary Support. This supplement was developed to address another common health concern in exotic companion mammals. Urinary issues can stem from a myriad of factors including, but not limited to:
- An unbalanced diet
- Inappropriate caging or bedding materials
- Chronic dehydration
- Lack of exercise
Bladder sludge (hypercalciuria), bladder stones (uroliths), cystitis (inflammation of the bladder) or infections are common outcomes from complications in renal function or declining urinary health that can be life-threatening in these species. As we have discussed in previous blogs there are a multitude of nutritional, environmental, and other factors owners can focus on to potentially limit urinary and bladder issues. Sometimes, though, these issues are unavoidable, which is where Oxbow’s Urinary Support can help under the guidance of your veterinarian.
How Call I Determine If My Pet Will Benefit from Urinary Support?
Every animal is unique and there is no sure-fire way to completely prevent urinary issues. Although there are contributing factors (listed above) that are thought to contribute to urinary issues, some animals may be genetically predisposed to certain urinary issues. Some clinical signs to look out for that may indicate your pet is experiencing urinary health issues include:
- Blood in the urine (hematuria)
- Dark-colored urine
- Changes in urination frequency or location
- Painful or strained urination (stranguria)
- Crystals in the urine
- Thick or cloudy urine
- Urine scald (redness or inflammation)
- Changes in litter box behaviors
- Weight loss
As prey species, small mammals will commonly hide these signs for as long as possible so if you observe any of these symptoms you should contact your veterinarian immediately. He or she can perform a full exam, which often includes a urinalysis and potentially blood work or radiographs to determine the best course of treatment, which may include adding Oxbow’s Urinary Support to the diet.
Purpose of Urinary Support
Natural Science Urinary Support is intended for animals with both acute and chronic urinary issues including, but not limited to, sludgy urine, bladder stones, and urinary tract infections. Urinary health is about supporting the function of every part of the urinary tract which includes the following components:
- Kidneys: filter fluid to rid waste and toxic substances from the body and return vital substances to the bloodstream
- Ureters: ducts that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder
- Bladder: store urine allowing for controlled and less frequent urination
- Urethra: duct that carries urine from the bladder to outside the body
The urinary environment is also important to protect. Environmental factors within the urinary tract such as pH and microbial infections can have huge implications on urinary health. The pH of herbivores should be alkaline (pH 8-9) and acidifying diets, such as those with too much calcium, can lower pH and negatively impact urinary health. Due to the unique calcium metabolism of many small mammals, keeping an eye on dietary calcium can be important for urinary health, though is not always a contributing factor. Other extremely important factors to maintaining urinary health in all species are adequate water consumption which helps flush the urinary system and exercise to physically keep the urinary tract from settling and forming sludge/stones as well as limiting obesity. Alas, sometimes urinary issues still occur and supplementation can be useful.
Natural Science Urinary Support is formulated keeping the natural diet of small mammals in mind and uses several natural ingredients that can aid in maintaining health of the urinary system. Urinary Support is designed to support healthy renal function and promote overall urinary health by helping stimulate urine flow, mitigating inflammation, defending against infection, and maintaining bladder function. The ingredients in this supplement are purposefully selected to support the urinary tract as a whole.
|Glucosamine (Plant-based)||Glucosamine||Supports the replenishment of mucous that lines and protects the bladder|
|Marshmallow Root||Mucilages, flavanoids||Natural diuretic properties; reduces irritation and inflammation of the urinary tract|
|Brewer’s Dried Yeast||Mannan-oligosaccharides (MOS)||Acts as a prebiotic and promotes the growth of healthy bacteria for whole body health|
|Astragalus Root||Flavanoids, saponins||Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant to protect kidneys from oxidative damage and support renal function|
|Cranberry Extract||Flavanoids (proanthocyanidins)||Antimicrobial to help prevent urinary tract infections|
|Dandelion Leaf||Potassium, vitamin C, flavanoids||Natural diuretic to increase urine flow|
|Pumpkin Seed||Zinc, magnesium, fatty acids||Helps relieve spasms and cramping from urinary disorders and strengthens urinary muscles|
Is Urinary Support Appropriate for Omnivores?
Omnivorous small mammals can also experience urinary issues and Oxbow’s Urinary Support contains natural and herbal ingredients that can support urinary health in these species as well. If your veterinarian deems supplementation an appropriate option for your pet, Urinary Support can be a great addition to an omnivore’s diet alongside fortified, complete pellets and other approved foods for small omnivores such as rats, mice, hamsters, and gerbils. Depending on weight, small herbivores should receive 1/2 to 2 tabs of Urinary Support per day, but for omnivores we recommend feeding 1/8 tablet daily for smaller species such as mice and dwarf hamsters and 1/4 tablet daily for larger species such as rats, gerbils, and Syrian hamsters.
Supplements are more complex than treats and adding them to any animal’s diet should be thoroughly evaluated alongside your veterinarian. Our Natural Science supplements can be used long or short term and in combination with other supplements but developing a supplementation plan specific to your pet’s needs is crucial. As you are considering supplements, there may be some questions that arise. For some of the most common questions regarding supplements, see the FAQ section of our previous supplement installment.