In today's post, our Madison veterinarians discuss bladder stones in dogs. It can lead to urination problems in dogs and, left untreated, can be life-threatening by blocking the bladder.
What are bladder stones in dogs?
Bladder stones in dogs are hardened calcium deposits that can range from tiny grains of sand to larger pieces like gravel.
They can be a collection of small tones or a single larger stone the size of a grain of sand to a piece of gravel. Small and large stones may coexist and cause an obstruction.
What are the symptoms of bladder stones?
Bladder stones in dogs often show up as two common symptoms of bladder stones in dogs: dysuria (straining to urinate) and hematuria (blood in urine).
Stones can irritate, damage tissue, and cause bleeding when they rub against the bladder wall. If the urethra (the tube that transports urine from the bladder to the outside of the body) or bladder wall becomes swollen or inflamed, urine flow may become physically obstructed, and muscle spasms may occur. This can result in dysuria.
Diagnosis of Bladder Stones in Dogs
While the symptoms of bladder stones can resemble those of cystitis or a regular bladder infection, they are distinct conditions. 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 may be too small to feel with the fingers through the bladder wall, or the bladder may be inflamed. X-rays, ultrasound, and radiographic contrast studies are also options.
How to Get Rid of Bladder Stones in Dogs
Depending on the severity of the bladder stones, your vet will likely recommend one of three common treatments:
- Surgical removal
- Non-surgical removal by urohydropropulsion
- Prescription diet and antibiotics
If left untreated, these stones can cause pain and obstruct the neck of the bladder or urethra, preventing your dog from fully emptying their bladder and only producing small squirts of urine.
Other Types of Stones
Gallstones form in the bladder as well, but they contain bile salts, whereas kidney stones are mineral formations that form in the kidney. Both of these are unrelated to bladder stones.
Despite the fact that the urinary bladder and kidneys are both parts of the urinary system, kidney stones are not commonly associated with bladder stones. These stones form in either of these structures due to inflammation or disease.
After removing the stones, your vet will work to keep them from returning.
Your dog should visit your primary care veterinarian on a regular basis (every few months) for x-rays or ultrasounds to determine if the stones have returned. If the stones are small enough, the vet may be able to remove them without surgery.
If your dog shows signs of blockage from bladder stones, contact your vet or the nearest emergency vet immediately. It could be life-treating.
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.