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Bladder Stones in Dogs

While they may be small, bladder stones can seriously impact your dog's urinary system and cause severe issues. In today's post, our Argyle veterinarians discuss bladder stones in dogs including the causes, types, diagnoses and treatment of this condition.

What are bladder stones?

Bladder stones are also sometimes called cystic calculi or uroliths. These minerals often develop into rock-like formations in a dog’s urinary bladder.

They can be a collection of small tones or a single larger stone the size of a grain of sand to a piece of gravel. Small and large stones may coexist and cause an obstruction.

What are the most common types of bladder stones in dogs?

The two most commonly seen types of bladder stones in dogs are struvite stones and calcium oxalate stones.

What are struvite bladder stones in dogs?

Struvite stones are most common in dogs with highly alkaline urine which can be the result of a urinary tract infection but this is not always the case. These bladder stones are often seen in dogs who consume high amounts of magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, chloride, and fiber. A genetic factor may also influence a dog's risk of developing struvite stones.

What are calcium oxalate bladder stones in dogs?

Calcium oxalate stones typically develop in dogs with urine that is highly acidic. It is also common to see calcium oxalate stones in dogs with high blood calcium levels and ones suffering from chronic kidney disease. These stones are most often seen in older dogs.

How can diet impact the formation and dissolution of bladder stones?

The formation of bladder stones can be linked to foods that are high in magnesium, phosphorus, protein and calcium. Feeding your dog a diet with restricted amounts of these minerals may be able to prevent and help with the dissolution of bladder stones.

What causes bladder stones in dogs?

Bladder stones in dogs are typically caused by a combination of factors, such as diet, genetics, and underlying medical conditions. In some cases, certain breeds may be more prone to developing bladder stones due to their genetic predisposition.

What are the symptoms of bladder stones?

There are two common signs that you may see if your dog is suffering from bladder stones. These are:

  • Dysuria (straining to urinate)
  • Hematuria (blood in urine)

When stones rub against the bladder wall, they can cause irritation, tissue damage, and bleeding. If the urethra (the tube that transports urine from the bladder to the outside of the body) or bladder wall swells or inflames, urine flow may become physically obstructed, resulting in muscle spasms. This can cause dysuria.

How are bladder stones diagnosed?

Though symptoms of bladder stones are similar to those of cystitis or uncomplicated bladder infection, the two are different - most dogs who have bladder stones do not have a bladder infection. Therefore, your vet may need to do more investigation before diagnosing

Some stones may be too small to feel with the fingers through the bladder wall, or the bladder may be inflamed. X-rays, ultrasound, and radiographic contrast studies are also options.

How to Get Rid of Bladder Stones in Dogs

If your dog has been diagnosed then your next question may be, 'What dissolves bladder stones in dogs?'

There are three commonly used treatments for bladder stones in dogs:

  • Surgical removal
  • Non-surgical removal by urohydropropulsion
  • Prescription diet and antibiotics

If left untreated, these stones can cause pain and obstruct the neck of the bladder or urethra, preventing your dog from fully emptying his or her bladder and only producing small squirts of urine.

Complete obstructions have the potential to cause life-threatening conditions and lead to a ruptured bladder. This would be classified as a veterinary medical emergency, which would need your veterinarian's immediate attention.

Prognosis for Dogs With Bladder Stones

The prognosis after your dog has been treated for bladder stones is typically good and your vet will recommend ongoing steps to help prevent reoccurrences.

Your vet may recommend return visits for X-rays or ultrasounds to see if the stones have returned. If the stones are small enough, your veterinarian may be able to remove them without surgery.

If your dog is having trouble urinating, our veterinarians can help. We have extensive experience diagnosing and effectively treating a wide range of conditions and illnesses.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

are you concerned that your dog is suffering from bladder stones? Our Argyle vets at Argyle Veterinary Hospital are experienced in treating many illnesses and conditions. Book an appointment today. 

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Contact (940) 464-3231