Symptoms of Bladder Stones in Dogs

Bacterial infections in the bladder are one of the more common conditions that develop into bladder stones in dogs. A dog urination infection can change the pH balance in the dog's body allowing for the crystallization of minerals in the urine to accumulate and form into "stones" that may grow so large that they can no longer be passed through the urethra and be eliminated. There are several types of stones composed of magnesium ammonium phosphate, calcium phosphate or calcium oxalate, silicate, urate or cystine. Stones can be located in the kidneys, ureters or urethra, but are often in the bladder.

Causes For The Formation Of Bladder Stones

There are a number of factors that can contribute to the development of canine bladder stones. A dog's genes, lifestyles and/or diet can all be contributing factors. For instance, a defect in the kidneys may cause oxalate stones to form, whereas a metabolic defect may cause urate stones to form.

Canine UTI or canine urinary tract infection, which is a bacterial infection within the bladder itself, can make the dog's urine more alkaline, thus producing magnesium ammonium phosphate in crystallized form, which eventually becomes bladder stones over time.

Symptoms Of Bladder Stones In Dogs

The following is a list of symptoms:

  • Frequent attempts to urinate
  • Pain when urinating
  • Difficulty urinating or straining to urinate
  • Urinating in unacceptable places
  • Urine leakage
  • Urine odor
  • Lack of urine control (incontinence)
  • Blood in the urine
  • Lethargy/fatigue
  • Decreased appetite
  • Small quantities of urine when urination is successful

Diagnosing Canine UTI and Stones

Sometimes a dog will not display any symptoms of the disease. Only a physical examination, x-rays or even ultrasound will reveal the presence of bladder stones. Usually bladder stones appear as white circles or shapes just as bones do. However, some do not and so a special dye is passed into the bladder to outline the stones so they appear in an x-ray.

Treating Bladder Stones in Dogs

Some stones as in the case of calcium oxalate stones cannot be dissolved but any medications, but must be surgically removed. Sometimes the bladder must be flushed out.

A diet with excessively high levels of protein will contribute to the formation of ammonium and carbon dioxide, which is part of the process of stone formation. This is usually an issue when a dog is on an all-meat diet without eating any commercially prepared foods. Therefore, the veterinarian may prescribe a certain diet. Usually the diet is more acidic and therefore hostile to bacteria. Also the diet will contain lower levels of protein, phosphorous and magnesium, which are building blocks for bladder stones.

Stones can also develop due to a parathyroid gland problem or the presence of certain cancers. The development of bladder stones may be a lifelong problem; however, they are generally not life threatening.

Prevention is the best defense for this disease by observing urination habits, feeding your dog a proper and balanced diet and ensuring your dog has ample fresh water in order to flush the bladder out on a regular basis.