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Urate Bladder Stones in Dogs

Urate stones in dogs have a genetic basis.

Ammonium urate bladder stones, sometimes simply called urate stones, are a type of bladder stone in dogs that occur as a result of a genetic deficiency in the way uric acid is metabolized in the body.

Breeds Most Commonly Affected by Urate Stones

Urate stones occur most frequently in Dalmatians as a result of a genetic mutation that negatively affects how urate acid is broken down and removed from the body. Other breeds may be affected by this mutation, as well, but much less commonly.

Dogs can also develop urate bladder stones when they suffer from a portosystemic shunt, sometimes called a liver shunt. This condition is usually congenital, or present at birth, and it means that blood is abnormally shunted around the liver and not detoxified properly. Breeds more commonly affected by liver shunts and resultant urate stones include Yorkshire terriers, Cairn terriers, and beagles.

Signs of Urate Stones in Dogs

Signs of urate stones in dogs are the same as the signs of any type of bladder stone, and they include:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Straining to urinate
  • Frequently urinating small amounts
  • Urinary accidents in the house
  • Licking at the vulva or penis excessively

Some dogs do not show any signs of bladder stones.

In some cases, a dog's urethra may become completely blocked by stones, causing the dog to be unable to void urine. This is an emergency situation because it is life-threatening if the bladder ruptures, kidney failure occurs, or the dog goes into shock.

If your dog is straining to urinate and nothing is coming out, get him or her to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

If a dog's urate stones develop as a result of a portosystemic shunt, there might be additional signs not related to the stones, including:

  • Poor growth
  • Abnormal behaviors like head-pressing, staring into space, or circling
  • Seizures
  • Mental deficits

Diagnosis of Urate Stones in Dogs

Urate stones in dogs are diagnosed by evaluating the stone itself for its mineral composition. Prior to that, bladder stones are diagnosed through x-ray or abdominal ultrasound. The veterinarian may first have an idea that the dog has bladder stones from the history and urinalysis results.

Urate stones may not be visible on plain x-rays, so sometimes a contrast study must be done to visualize them. This involves injecting dye into the bladder, which will outline the stones, and then re-x-raying.

Treatment of Canine Urate Stones

Urate stones are treated by surgically removing them from the dog's bladder. In some cases, a special technique called urohydropropulsion can be performed. This involves using a special catheter to flush the stones out of the bladder.

Some veterinary referral centers may offer ultrasonic dissolution of the bladder stones. This means that ultrasound is used to break the stones up into tiny pieces, which can then be removed from the bladder.

After removal, the dog will need to be on a prescription diet for life to avoid the development of further stones. Dogs with urate stones due to a liver shunt will need to have the shunt corrected to avoid more urate stones.

You May Also Like These Articles:

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Liver Shunts in Dogs

Calcium Oxalate Bladder Stones in Dogs

Causes of Frequent Urination and Urinary Accidents in Dogs

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Urinary Tract Infection: UTI in Dogs

Causes of Frequent Urination and Urinary Accidents in Dogs

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