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Bladder Stones in Dogs

Bladder Stones in Dogs

Bladder stones are a urinary condition that can cause your pup to experience severe discomfort. In this post, our Cumming veterinarians share the signs and symptoms of urinary concerns and how to get rid of bladder stones in dogs.

When Bladders Stones Form

Bladder stones are also referred to as uroliths or cystic calculi. Bladder stones happen when the minerals and grit within the urine clump together. The size of these bladder stones can vary from being the size of a grain of sand up to small gravel. Either way, it will likely cause your dog to experience pain and discomfort and should be treated quickly.

Symptoms of Bladder Stones in Dogs

Some of the typical signs of bladder stones in dogs include:

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

Irritation and tissue damage can result from stones rubbing against the bladder wall and causing bleeding. Swelling and inflammation or the urethra (the tube which transports urine from the bladder to the outside of the body) or bladder wall, physical obstruction of urine flow or muscle spasms can cause dysuria.

What causes bladder stones in dogs?

Precipitation-crystallization theory is currently the most commonly accepted when it comes to explaining how bladder stones form. One or more crystalline compounds may be present in elevated levels in your dog’s urine and eventually form stones due to dietary factors or previous bladder disease such as a bacterial infection. Sometimes, the body’s metabolism may cause an issue.

Suppose the urine becomes saturated with the crystalline compound due to the acidity (pH) or specific minerals in the urine. In that case, tiny crystals can form and irritate the lining of the bladder, causing the production of mucous that sticks to the crystals. Clusters then form and harden into stones.

Bladder stones can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to form, depending on how much crystalline material is present, and on the degree of infection.

Diagnosing Bladder Stones in Dogs

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. This means that your vet may need to perform thorough diagnostics prior to offering a diagnosis and treatment options.

Some 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 ultrasonic bladder examination, ultrasound or a radiographic contrast study.

Treating Bladder Stones

If your dog has been diagnosed with this urinary condition you may wonder, 'What dissolves bladder stones in dogs?'.

When  typically have three potential treatments:

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

Left untreated, these stones become painful and can obstruct the neck of the bladder or urethra, resulting in your dog not being able to fully empty his or her 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. 

Are there other types of bladder stones 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 part of the urinary system, kidney stones are not usually associated with bladder stones. Inflammation or disease causes these stones to form in either of these structures.

What is the outlook if my dog has bladder stones?

Once the bladder stones have been dissolved, your pet can usually carry on as usual with no concerns. Preventive measures should be taken to help prevent stones from returning. Ultrasounds or x-rays of the bladder should be taken regularly (every few months) by your primary care veterinarian to see if stones are recurring. If these stones are small enough, nonsurgical hydropulsion can be used to eliminate them.

Is your dog having problems urinating? Our vets are experienced in treating many conditions and illnesses and can diagnose the problem, and then provide effective treatment.

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. 

If you are concerned that your dog is showing signs of bladder stones or another urinary tract condition, contact our vets in Cumming to book an appointment. 

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Crestview Animal Hospital & Emergency is always welcoming new patients! Our Cumming vets provide veterinary services designed to promote good health and longevity. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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