Bladder stones can cause urination issues in your dog and can even be fatal if they completely block the bladder. In today's post, our Pleasant Hill veterinarians discuss bladder stones in dogs.
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 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 symptoms of bladder stones?
Common symptoms of bladder stones in dogs include:
- Dysuria (straining to urinate)
- Hematuria (blood in urine)
Stones can irritate, damage tissue, and cause bleeding when they rub against the bladder wall. If the urethra (the tube that transports urine from the bladder to the outside of the body) or bladder wall becomes swollen or inflamed, urine flow may become physically obstructed, and muscle spasms may occur. This can result in dysuria.
Diagnosis of 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. 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 pooch is found to have bladder stones, your next question may be to ask, “What dissolves bladder stones in dogs?”
Bladder stones will typically have three potential treatments:
- 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 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
Gallstones form in the bladder as well, but they contain bile salts, whereas kidney stones are mineral formations that form in the kidney. Both of these are unrelated to bladder stones. Despite the fact that the urinary bladder and kidneys are both parts of the urinary system, kidney stones are not commonly associated with bladder stones. These stones form in either of these structures as a result of inflammation or disease.
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 visit your primary care veterinarian on a regular basis (every few months) for x-rays or ultrasounds to determine if the stones have returned. If the stones are small enough, the vet may be able to remove them without surgery.
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.