Urinary conditions in dogs can cause a number of uncomfortable or even painful symptoms. Bladder stones are no exception. In this post, our Killen vets talk about the formation of bladder stones and how your dog can be treated for this condition.
What are bladder stones?
Bladder stones are also referred to as uroliths or cystic calculi. Bladder stones occur when sediment and minerals in the urine stick together. The size of these bladder stones can vary from being the size of a grain of sand up to small gravel. If your dog has bladder stones they may experience a range of symptoms, some of which are very uncomfortable.
Symptoms Related to Bladder Stones
There are two main symptoms associated with bladder stones in dogs. They are:
- 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 stone formation?
Precipitation-crystallization theory is the known explanation for bladder stones and how they form. This theory states that 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.
There is no set amount of time that it takes for bladder stones to form. It generally depends on how much crystalline material is present, and on the degree of infection.
The Diagnosis of Bladder Stone 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.
How are dogs treated for 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.
What are the different types of bladder stones?
Gallstones, like bladder stones, also form in the kidneys. The difference is that gallstones 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.
The Prognosis for Dogs With 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.