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Advice From Dr. Lindsey: Canine kidney and bladder stones

Table of Contents

Authored by: Dr. Lindsey, DVM

Dogs can get kidney and bladder stones. From my experience, I see more dogs with bladder stones than kidney stones. Bladder stones are rock-like mineral formations that form in the bladder. These bladder stones can be all different shapes and sizes. There can be just one large stone or many tiny stones like sand and everything in between.

Some of the clinical signs of bladder stones are blood in the urine, straining to urinate, discomfort or crying out during urination, frequent urination, or accidents in the house. A potentially serious symptom is when a stone or stones blocks the passage of urine out of the body and the bladder can’t empty. If that is not resolved quickly it can lead to the bladder rupturing. A sign of that would be a dog trying to urinate and nothing comes out.

Bladder stones can be caused by several things such as diet, genetics, metabolic problems, or recurrent bladder issues. Stones start off as tiny crystals in the urine and when the crystals and mucus stick together and harden, the stones form.

Sometimes bladder stones are large enough to be felt by the veterinarian during their exam. Frequently, x-rays are used to detect some types of bladder stones. Other bladder stones can’t be seen on x-rays and an ultrasound may be needed to find them.

There are several options to address bladder stones. Which option you chose depends on the type and size of stone. Some stones can be dissolved with special prescription diets, other stones may need surgery to be removed, or urohydropropulsion may be a non-surgical option to flush a stone out. After the stone is removed, the veterinarian will send it to a lab for analysis of what type of stone it is. Depending on the type of stone, a special diet may be prescribed by the veterinarian to help so the stones don’t reoccur.

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Dr. Lindsey graduated from Colorado State University in 2009 and works in general practice, shelter medicine, and more recently as a civilian contractor veterinarian for the Army. She is also certified in acupuncture and resides in Palm Springs, CA.