A Guide to Bladder Stones in Dogs
Just like human beings, dogs get kidney stones too. It is important to know about bladder stones in dogs so you can be proactive in getting them a diagnosis and treatment. Here is more about what kidney stones are, the signs and symptoms of bladder stones in dogs, preventative measures if applicable, and the treatment methods.
What Are Bladder Stones?
Bladder stones are also known as kidney stones. They are a collection of minerals that are like rocks or stones – hence, the name. These form in the urinary bladder.
According to Pet Health Network:
Stones of the urinary tract begin as microscopic crystals that aggregate to form stones of variable size and shape anywhere within the urinary system, including the kidneys, ureters, and urethra, although stones of the urinary bladder are most common. There are several types of bladder stones. Some reach up to four inches in diameter, filling up 80% of a dog’s bladder space! Dogs can have single or multiple bladder stones.
In people kidney stones are caused by infections, not emptying the bladder fully, and things like an enlarged prostate gland, and even damaged nerves. In dogs, it is more mysterious but sometimes caused by too many minerals or the urine being too concentrated or acidic.
Other reasons for bladder stones in dogs include bacterial infections or abnormal metabolism of various minerals by an individual dog. This is with the breeds mentioned above that are more susceptible to bladder stones.
While there are some unknown reasons as to why a dog gets kidney stones while others do not, some breeds are more susceptible. These include approximately 10 breeds – from the Pekingese to the Dalmatian.
But vets agree that diet is an important preventative measure. There are certain dog foods that have been created specifically to prevent the formation of struvite, cystine crystals, and calcium oxalate. Your vet is the best person to see in order to find out if these foods are right for your dog and keep in mind that some require a prescription and are only available at certain pet stores.
Another preventative measure is to encourage fluid intake. If your dog is not drinking enough water then bladder stones is just one of the worries to take into consideration.
Signs and Symptoms
In order to help your dog if he does get bladder stones, there are a few signs and symptoms to be aware of.
- Loss of Appetite. Look for signs that your dog is not eating like normal, which can also be a symptom for other health issues too.
- Signs of Pain During Urination. If your dog is straining to relieve himself or seems to be in pain while urinating, these are common signs of bladder issues.
- Vomiting. Vomiting can be a sign of bladder stones as well as other health issues. If it is not a seemingly one-time thing, have your dog checked by a veterinarian.
- Blood in the Urine. A dog with kidney stones may have traces of blood in their urine. This is nothing to be alarmed over but it does mean you should take your dog to the vet and see what the problem is.
- Other Signs. There are a couple of other signs to watch for and they include: urinating frequently with little output and staying in the urinating position for longer than necessary.
Diagnosis and Treatment for Bladder Stones in Dogs
If your dog has any of the symptoms above, it is time to see the vet. The veterinarian uses tests such as:
- A urinalysis
- A stone analysis
- Chemistry tests for sugar levels, etc
- An abdominal ultrasound
- A blood count (CBC)
- A thyroid test
- X-rays of the dog’s urinary tract
- Electrolyte tests
Treatment for Bladder Stones
There are a couple of common areas of treatment for bladder stones in dogs.
According to PetMD:
If struvite is the diagnosis, a veterinarian will treat the underlying cause (e.g., dog antibiotics for urinary tract infections) and may recommend a therapeutic diet that will dissolve the stones and crystals. Dogs prescribed antibiotics will typically use the drugs while consuming the therapeutic dog food, and possibly longer if needed.
Another form of treatment is with surgery. A vet can use an abdominal incision to open the bladder and remove the stones. This typically requires just 2-4 days of recovery and most dogs improve quite rapidly. If surgery is not possible due to age or other health concerns, the first option may be the best one.
Yet, the first option does have a few caveats and is not for every dog.
- Some stones cannot be dissolved successfully. A stone analysis will determine if it is a stone that can be or other methods are recommended.
- It takes a lot of time through the non-surgical method. During that time, the dog will continue to exhibit symptoms and there is a high risk of urethral obstruction while waiting for treatment to work.
- In order for the special diet to work, the dog must eat the food exclusively and not every dog will do so. The food is typically very expensive in some cases and this may be cost prohibitive to use on an everyday basis.
Visiting the veterinarian can be costly but your dog is worth it. Reduce the worry of unexpected vet bills and visit Pet Insurance Quotes to compare reputable pet insurance quotes in one place.
although older dogs may possibly acquire it still.
Bladder stones are rarely life threatening. In fact, it can be treated with the right diet and the necessary hygienic practices.
Cost to Treat: $50 to 500 if IV’s or pain meds are necessary.