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Bladder Stones in Dogs

Bladder Stones in Dogs

When a dog develops bladder stones it can lead to severe discomfort when they try to use the bathroom. In this post, our Thornton vets share some information about how to get rid of bladder stones in dogs and the common causes of this urinary condition.

The Formation of Bladder Stones in Dogs

Bladder stones are also referred to as uroliths or cystic calculi. These bladder stones are made up of a collection of minerals that resemble sand or rocks. The size of these bladder stones can also vary from the size of a grain of sand up to larger gravel.

Common Bladder Stones Symptoms

The most common signs of bladder stones in dogs include:

  • 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.

The Causes of Bladder Stones in Dogs

Precipitation-crystallization theory is currently the most commonly accepted when it comes to explaining how bladder stones form. 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.

Bladder stones can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to form, depending on how much crystalline material is present, and on the degree of infection.

Diagnosing 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 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.

Treatment Options For Bladder Stones in Dogs

When bladder stones are diagnosed in your pup, your next question may be to ask, “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. 

Other Types of Bladder Stones That May Develop

Gallstones also form in the bladder but 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.

Prognosis For Dogs Experiencing 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. 

If your dog is showing signs of discomfort when urinating and you would like to learn more about how to get rid of bladder stones in dogs, contact our vets in Thornton to book an appointment. 

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Caring Hands Veterinary Hospital is always accepting new patients! Our vets are passionate about providing kind and loving veterinary care to Thornton companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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