Bladder Stones Are Common in Pets
What to look for and what you should know
In the last few weeks, we’ve seen three separate cases of bladder stones in dogs. In all cases, the removals were successful; and all our furry friends are recovering nicely. While most types of bladder stones are common in dogs and cats, this recent group of cases moved us to create a greater awareness of this condition for our pet parents.
What are bladder stones?
Simply put, bladder stones are rock-like formations of minerals that form in the urinary bladder. They may form as a large single stone to a cluster of stones ranging in size from a grain of sand to a piece of gravel. There are several types of bladder stones but two of the most common are; struvite stones and calcium oxalate stones. Struvite stones can be found in both dogs and cats; they often form as the result of urinary tract infections. Calcium oxalate stones are also very common (especially in cats). This type of stone seems to be correlated to urine concentration and dietary factors.
It is important to determine the type of stone your pet has so the proper treatment can be provided (particularly for long-term treatment and prevention).
What Causes Bladder Stones in Pets?
Struvite stones usually form as a complication of a bladder infection caused by bacteria that produce an enzyme known as urease. The cause of calcium oxalate stone formation is currently not understood as well as struvite stones. Some research suggests diets that cause high urine acidity may play a part.
Regardless, bladder stones are common in dogs and cats and can cause urinary tract infection and blockage. If bladder stones cause a complete blockage the pet may be unable to urinate. This could also cause the bladder to rupture. A complete obstruction is potentially life-threatening and requires immediate emergency treatment.
How Do I Know If My Pet Has Bladder Stones?
Two of the most common signs of bladder stones are blood in your pet’s urine and/or straining to urinate. Your pet may also have more accidents in the house, urinating frequently, but in small amounts. While pets may not show it, they are experiencing discomfort and pain. If you see any of these signs, we recommend you bring your pet to the clinic immediately for an evaluation.
How Are Bladder Stones Diagnosed?
Diagnosing bladder stones can usually be done by x-ray or ultrasound. Below are x-rays of bladder stones from our recent patients. As advanced as these diagnosis methods are, they cannot tell us the type of stone a pet has. Additional lab examination of the removed stone is performed to determine the specific stone type.