Bladder Stones in Dogs

Did you know that dogs can develop bladder stones? Bladder stones are small mineralized structures that can form in a pet’s bladder. Bladder stones can be large or small in number and quantity. If you have a dog, it’s important to understand what bladder stones may look like in your pet.

If you suspect your pet may be suffering from this problem, contact your veterinarian for an examination. They may refer to Atlantic Veterinary Internal Medicine & Oncology, as this condition can be painful and dangerous if left untreated with the help of a medical professional.

Bladder Stones in Dogs

Is It a Bladder Infection?

Symptoms due to bladder stones can be similar to the symptoms caused by a bladder infection. Your primary care veterinarian may recommend looking for a lower urinary tract infection before searching for bladder stones. Though your veterinarian may suspect bladder stones, but they may not be able to diagnose them without first ruling out the chance of a bladder infection.

If this problem is successfully ruled out, the veterinarian will try to feel the stones within the dog’s bladder. If this is not possible, then the dog will need an X-ray. An ultrasound examination of the bladder is usually recommended to look for bladder stones.

Blood in Urine

Dogs often have blood in their urine or difficulty urinating if they have bladder stones. These symptoms can last throughout the dog’s experience with the bladder stones.

Check the Ingredients

Diet may play some part in a dog’s risk of bladder stones. This condition tends to occur in dogs who consume high levels of minerals that may lead to the formation of bladder stones. However, this is certainly not the only cause, and bladder stones can occur in any dog at any time.

Options for Treatment and Removal of Stones

Surgical removal of bladder stones is the most common method of treatment, though there are additional, minimally-invasive options for stone removal in addition to traditional bladder stone surgery.

AVIM&O offers cystoscopic stone retrieval as an option for the removal of very small stones. At our Columbia office, percutaneous cystolithotomy (PCCL) is available. This is a modified surgical technique that can be used to remove some larger stones, as well as cystoscopy-guided stone removal.

For dogs who are experiencing a bladder obstruction, removal is the most effective option. However, some dogs may be able to have stones flushed out of the bladder through a process called urohydropropulsion.

Sometimes Surgery Is Not Necessary

Dogs who have very small bladder stones that are not at risk of causing an obstruction may be treated successfully with medication and diet modification, depending on the make-up of the bladder stones. This method does not guarantee dissolution of the stones and it can take a long time to work, especially if the dog is not interested in the new diet.

Treatment with dietary dissolution also comes with the increased and prolonged risk of obstruction if the treatment is not effective. Dietary dissolution is the most conservative method of attempting to remove bladder stones, but it is not successful for all types of bladder stones.

Bladder Rupture

The most serious potential risk for dogs when it comes to bladder stones is the chance of the bladder rupturing. This can occur if there is a complete and prolonged obstruction to urine flow, usually due to stones becoming lodged in the urethra. A complete urinary obstruction is a serious emergency. Any dog who is unable to urinate or can only produce a few drops of urine should be assessed by a veterinarian as soon as possible.

If Your Dog Has a Bladder Stone, Our Specialty Animal Hospitals Can Help

Bladder stones don’t have to be dangerous in dogs, but they certainly can be if they are not treated in a timely fashion. Talk to your veterinarian if you suspect your dog may be suffering from a bladder stone, and be sure to follow their about treating this problem.

Your veterinarian may recommend diet and modification, especially after the stones have been removed and analyzed, and will likely give you instructions on what to feed your pet moving forward to help prevent the risk of this problem in the future. The goal with these measures is to reduce the chances of the formation of further bladder stones.

 – Dr. John Paola, DACVIM