What are bladder stones in dogs?
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 may either be a buildup of multiple small tones or a single larger stone, from the size of a grain of sand to a piece of gravel. Both small and large stones may be present and create an obstruction.
Signs That Your Dog Could Have Bladder Stones
If your dog is suffering from bladder stones you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:
- Dysuria (straining to urinate)
- Hematuria (blood in urine)
Stones can rub against the wall of the bladder, which causes 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 is swollen or inflamed, this may result in urine flow becoming physically obstructed, or muscle spasms. This can lead to dysuria.
How Dog Bladder Stones Are Diagnosed
While 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.
In some cases the stones will be too small to be felt with the fingers by palpating them through the bladder wall, or the bladder may be too inflamed. Other options include x-rays or an ultrasound or radiographic contrast study.
Treatment for Dog Bladder Stones
So you're convinced that your dog has bladder stones but how do you get rid of bladder stones in dogs?
Once your vet has provided you with a definitive diagnosis they will also run through the best treatment options for your dog. Treatment can include:
- Surgical removal
- Non-surgical removal by urohydropropulsion
- Prescription diet and antibiotics
If left untreated, these stones will become increasingly painful for your dog and can obstruct the neck of the bladder or urethra, resulting in your dog not being able to fully empty their bladder and only producing small squirts of urine.
Complete obstructions can lead to urine being totally blocked. If the obstruction is not relieved, this can cause a potentially life-threatening condition and lead to a ruptured bladder. This would be classified as a veterinary medical emergency, which would need your veterinarian's immediate attention.
Other Types of Stones Seen in Dogs
Gallstones also form in the bladder but contain bile salts, while kidney stones are mineral formations that develop in the kidney. Neither of these are directly related to bladder stones. Though the urinary bladder and kidneys are both part of the urinary system, kidney stones are not usually associated with bladder stones. Inflammation or disease cause these stones to form in either of these structures.
Prognosis For Dogs With Bladder Stones
Prognosis is usually good after bladder stones have been eliminated. Your vet should take preventive measures to help keep the stones from recurring.
Your dog should see your primary care veterinarian regularly (every few months) for x-rays or ultrasounds to determine whether stones are returning. If the stones are small enough in size, the vet may use nonsurgical hydropulsion to remove them.
If your dog is having difficulty urinating, our veterinarians can help. We are experienced in diagnosing and effectively treating many 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.