Bladder Stones in Dogs
on May 12, 2015
Posted in Dogs
Your dog has just been diagnosed with bladder stones. The following information is provided to help you understand what this means for you and your pet.
What are Bladder Stones?
Bladder stones (sometimes called uroliths) are fairly common in dogs. The most common type, struvite stones, are composed of magnesium, ammonium, and phosphate and are often associated with untreated urinary tract infections. When the pH of the urine is outside of normal range, crystals begin to form. If untreated, the crystals will form stones. They may be very small, like grains of sand, or they can become larger than a baseball. Some dogs only have a single stone, but they often have several. Calcium oxalate stones are often caused by high levels of calcium or oxalate in the urine.
Why Does my Dog Have Bladder Stones?
Some dogs are more likely to develop bladder stones.
- Female dogs
- Small breeds
- Dogs 4-6 years old
What Causes Stones to Develop?
There are several different possibilities. Your veterinarian may or may not be able to determine only one cause in your pet. Some causes include:
- Chronic infections
- Metabolic problems
- Inherited tendency
What Kind of Symptoms Will I See?
Some patients with bladder stones show no symptoms of any kind and the stones are discovered incidentally; however, most patients do experience symptoms. Common signs include:
- Frequent urination
- Painful urination
- Blood in the urine
- Inability to urinate
- Recurrent bladder infections
- Straining or vocalizing during urination
- Urinating in inappropriate places
If you notice any of these signs in your dog, make sure you have him seen by a vet right away. Bladder stones are more than just painful. They can cause a urinary blockage that can be very serious or even life-threatening if there is complete blockage.
How are Bladder Stones Diagnosed?
In some cases bladder stones can be felt during a physical examination. In others they are diagnosed through X-rays or ultrasound. It is possible that the first indication may come when your dog passes a stone.
What do I do if my Dog Passes a Stone?
If you can, collect the stone and bring it in to the veterinarian. It should be analyzed to determine what type of stone it is so your doctor can select the best treatment. Your veterinarian will probably take X-rays to see if there are more stones.
What are the Conventional Treatments?
Your veterinarian may prescribe a special diet to help dissolve or prevent stones. There are several different brands available, and the best one will depend on the type of stones your dog has as well as other medical conditions your dog may have. There are also homemade diets that you can prepare. Remember that your dog needs access to fresh, clean water more than ever. You can increase water intake by switching to a wet diet, either bought or homemade (rather than dry kibble).
Other treatments include surgical removal, hydropropulsion (the stones are flushed out with saline).
What Holistic or Natural Treatments are Available?
The most common and effective natural treatment is changing the diet to dissolve stones. Your veterinarian will prescribe a high-acid diet. You can use a commercial prescription diet or prepare homemade foods specifically for this condition. It is a good idea to allow your pet to become hungry before each meal, and to feed your pet twice each day. More frequent feeding can make the urine more alkaline. Other natural treatments are aimed at prevention and can include herbal supplements, vitamins, natural urinary antiseptics, and homeopathy.
How Long will my Pet Live? What Kind of Life will he Have?
Bladder stones are common and can usually be treated with few complications. Most pets recover and live a normal life. If your dog has recurring bladder stones or other conditions, your veterinarian can discuss how to help support your dog.
Where Can I go for More Information?
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Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan