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Bladder Stones in Dogs

Bladder stones in dogs can cause pain.

Bladder stones are fairly commonly diagnosed in dogs. They can cause frequent urinary tract infections, pain, and even obstruction of the urinary tract.

What Are Bladder Stones?

Bladder stones are collections of minerals that form rock-hard structures in a dog's bladder. They can be tiny or large and smooth or pointed.

Bladder stones in dogs can be made of different substances, but there are three types that are most commonly diagnosed. They are:

  • Struvite: Also called magnesium ammonium phosphate or triple phosphate, struvite stones can form if a dog's urine is the wrong pH and is overly concentrated. They are common sequelae of chronic bladder infections. Learn more: "Struvite Bladder Stones in Dogs."
  • Calcium Oxalate: Calcium oxalate stones may be caused by a chronic disruption of the dog's urine pH in addition to an overly concentrated urine. Learn more: "Calcium Oxalate Bladder Stones in Dogs."
  • Urate: Ammonium urate, or urate, stones are caused by a genetic defect in the dog's ability to metabolize uric acid. They can also occur in cases when a dog has a liver shunt, or a problem with the way the blood is detoxified. Learn more: "Urate Bladder Stones in Dogs."

Signs of Bladder Stones in Dogs

The signs of canine bladder stones can vary from none to severe. Some common signs include:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Urine accidents in the home
  • Straining to urinate
  • Urinating small, frequent amounts
  • Licking at the vulva or penis incessantly

In the worst case, a dog's urethra, the tube from the bladder to the outside world, can become obstructed by a stone or stones. This is an emergency situation because the bladder becomes painfully enlarged and may burst. This situation can also result in kidney failure.

Diagnosis of Canine Bladder Stones

Diagnosis of bladder stones in dogs is usually accomplished through x-rays or ultrasound of the bladder. Some stones can't be seen on a regular x-ray, but they can be seen when a special dye is inserted into the bladder and x-rays are repeated.

Prior to that, the veterinarian may become suspicious of bladder stones due to the dog's clinical signs and results of a urinalysis.

Sometimes, a veterinarian can actually feel a dog's bladder stones when he or she palpates (feels) the abdomen.

Dog Breeds Most Commonly Affected by Bladder Stones

Dogs from all breeds and both sexes can be affected by bladder stones. However, each of the three major types of stones occurs more commonly in certain breeds.

Calcium oxalate stones are more common in male dogs, and schnauzers, bichons, and shih tzus are among the breeds most commonly affected.

Struvite stones are more common in female dogs and Yorkshire terriers, shih tzus, and lhasa apsos are more commonly affected.

Urate stones are most commonly seen in dalmatians, but they are also seen in dogs suffering from liver shunts.

Treatment of Bladder Stones in Dogs

Most of the time, bladder stones are treated through surgical removal. However, certain types of stones can sometimes be dissolved through the use of medication and a prescription diet. That process can take months, however, and there is some danger associated with it. As the stones become smaller, they may be more likely to drop into the urethra and result in an obstruction. Also, the type of stone present must be known to treat stones this way, and that can be tricky.

A dog with bladder stones that have caused a urinary tract obstruction always needs surgery; this is an emergency situation.

Some veterinarians may have the ability to use urohydropropulsion, a procedure that uses a special catheter to flush the stones out of the bladder.

Some veterinary referral centers may be able to treat bladder stones by using ultrasound to break them apart so they can be flushed out.

Prognosis for Canine Bladder Stones

The prognosis for a dog with bladder stones following surgery is good in the short term. Recovery takes about two weeks, and the dog must be kept calm and restricted from licking at the abdominal incision. However, long-term care to help avoid further stone development is necessary and, even with those precautions, dogs with bladder stones commonly get them again.

Many times, dogs with bladder stones must be kept on a strict prescription diet for life after the stones are removed and their mineral composition is analyzed. They should also be encouraged to drink lots of clean, fresh water. A pet water fountain can help achieve that goal for some dogs.

You May Also Like These Articles:

Struvite Bladder Stones in Dogs

Calcium Oxalate Bladder Stones in Dogs

Liver Shunts in Dogs

Urate Bladder Stones in Dogs

Bladder Problems In Dogs

One Simple Test Your Dog Needs Every Year

Urinary Tract Infection: UTI in Dogs

Pancreatitis in Dogs


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