Dog Bladder Stones

The dog bladder stones also known as urinary calculi are formations of minerals in the bladder. The bladder stones in dogs are more frequently met than the kidney or urethra stones.

Types of Bladder Stones

There are a few types of bladder stones depending on their chemical composition:

  • Struvite bladder stones which are made up mostly of magnesium crystals
  • Calcium oxalate bladder stones
  • Calcium phosphate
  • Ammonium urate
  • A combination of several chemicals

The bladder stones may be as big as 3 to 4 inches in diameter. 

Causes of Bladder Stones in Dogs

The bladder stones may form in dogs due to a diet that is too rich in certain minerals that get deposited in the dog’s bladder without being eliminated.

Bacterial urinary tract infections or cystitis may have a contributing role in the formation of bladder stones, as the infections will make the urine more alkaline, so struvite stones may form.

Also, if the dog doesn’t drink enough amounts of fresh water, this may facilitate the formation of bladder stones.

Certain dogs may have a genetic predisposition to form bladder stones.

Bladder Stones Symptoms

The symptoms of bladder stones may not be detected at first, but you should watch out for signs such as:

  • Blood in the urine
  • More frequent urination in smaller amounts than usual
  • Straining to urinate
  • Pain when urinating
  • Excessive licking of genitals
  • The bladder stones may be felt by palpating the abdomen, provided the stones are larger

Bladder Stone Detection

Some bladder stones may be felt by palpating the abdomen of the dog, while others may only show up on x-rays.

There are bladder stones that are radiolucent, which means that x-rays will pass through the stones and these will not show up. In this case, the dog will get a non toxic dye that will color the stone, so that it will appear on the x-ray test.

Bladder Stone Treatment

The bladder stones may be eliminated by the dog, without any intervention, but if these stones are not eliminated in a few weeks, they may cause damage to the bladder tissues or urinary tract occlusion. So, the bladder stones should be removed through surgery, which is known as cystotomy.

There are also other methods that may dissolve the bladder stones. The urohydropropulsion is a procedure that involves a catheter which is placed in the dog’s urethra and the bladder will be filled with a saline solution. After the bladder is full, the vet will apply pressure on the bladder, so the stones will be most likely to be eliminated.

Diet is also a treatment option, as it may help dissolve the stones. However, this treatment may only be effective in struvite bladder stones. The bladder stones that are made up of calcium oxalate will require surgery or urohydropropulsion.

After the stones are eliminated, the dog’s diet must be changed for life to prevent the formation of other bladder stones.