This information is provided by Provet for educational purposes only.
You should seek the advice of your veterinarian if your pet is ill as only he or she can correctly advise on the diagnosis and recommend the treatment that is most appropriate for your pet.
Silicon is the most abundant element on Earth after oxygen. It definitely has a role to play in the formation of silicate uroliths - but does it have other important roles, and is it involved common orthopaedic disorders of cats and dogs ?
Ingested silica (as sand or soil) is rapidly excreted in the urine of dogs and high dietary intake will encourage the development of crystalluria and stone formation. Silicate uroliths are occasionally reported in dogs. They adopt a typical "jack stone" appearance and either cause no symptoms, or produce signs of lower urinary tract disease as for other uroliths. There is a high incidence reported in wild dogs in Africa, and in the UK and USA the German Shepherd Dog appears to develop them most frequently. It may be that this breed ingests soil more frequently or there could be an inherited factor.
What about other potential roles for silicon ? Well, in chicks and rats silicon is essential for normal growth and in chicks it has an important metabolic role in cartilage as silicon-deficiency reduces glycosaminoglycans and collagen concentrations and produces profound pathological changes in epiphyseal cartilage. Silicon has been shown to be essential for prolyl hydroxylase activity - which is involved in collagen synthesis.
In humans work is on-going but silicon deficiency is possibly involved in osteoarthritis and ageing as well as other disorders including atherosclerosis and hypertension.
Watch this space !
Updated October 2013