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Struvite Bladder Stones in Dogs

Struvite stones can cause bladder problems in dogs.

Struvite stones are a type of bladder stone commonly diagnosed in dogs. Like all bladder stones, struvites can irritate the lining of the bladder, resulting in pain, urinary accidents, and sometimes blockage of the urinary tract.

Struvite stones are also called triple ammonium phosphate or triple phosphate.

What Causes Struvite Bladder Stones in Dogs?

Struvite stones are usually caused by changes in the urine that occur during a bladder infection. The bacteria, usually a type of Staphylococcus, produce a substance that changes the pH of the urine and promotes the production of ammonia.

Signs of Canine Struvite Stones

Signs of struvite stones in dogs are the same as signs of other types of bladder stones. Some dogs show no signs at all. Others may show some or all of the following signs:

  • Recurrent bladder infections
  • Blood in the urine
  • Frequently urinating small amounts
  • Urinary accidents in the home
  • Straining to urinate

In extreme cases, bladder stones may obstruct the urethra, resulting in a life-threatening inability to urinate. When this occurs, the dog may strain persistently but not produce any urine, cry, pace, lick at the vulva or penis incessantly, pant, and collapse.

Breeds Most Commonly Affected by Struvite Bladder Stones

Any dog breed may develop struvite stones, but they occur more commonly in the following breeds:

  • Shih tzu
  • Dalmatian
  • Beagle
  • Lhasa apso

Female dogs also develop struvite stones more commonly than males, probably because they are more prone to bladder infections.

Diagnosis of Struvite Stones in Dogs

Bladder stones, in general, can usually be diagnosed through x-ray or abdominal ultrasound. The veterinarian may also be able to feel them through the bladder wall in small dogs with large or multiple stones.

Struvite stones can only be specifically diagnosed by removing them from the dog's bladder and analyzing them. A veterinarian may be able to strongly suspect struvite based on urinalysis findings such as an alkaline urine pH, the presence of a bacterial infection, and struvite crystals. However, without removal and analysis, there can't be surety on the type of stone.

Treatment of Canine Struvite Bladder Stones

Struvite bladder stones can be treated by removing them surgically through an incision in the abdominal wall and then the bladder.

Struvite stones can sometimes be dissolved by treating the bladder infection and feeding a prescription diet formulated to achieve a pH that is not conducive to struvite. This may take some time, requires strict feeding of only the prescription diet, and increases the risk of obstruction as the stones become smaller and more able to fit down into the urethra.

After resolution of the bladder stones, it may be necessary to keep the dog on a prescription diet, encourage good water consumption, and routinely monitor for infection or re-formation of stones.

You can find more general information here: "Bladder Stones in Dogs."

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