Do you happen to be one of those dog owners whose dog has had issues when going to potty? Or have you noticed any changes in your dog’s urine color and how it pees? If you have, stay tuned to read and learn about one of the possibilities for this – presence of stones in the bladder.
In this article, we will describe what bladder stones are, how they can form, how they are diagnosed and treated, and finally, learn how much the owner would be expected to pay for this.
What are bladder stones and what kind of stones can be found in dogs?
Bladder stones, also known as uroliths, are stone-like formations in the bladder. They are usually made from different types of minerals and can vary in size and form. One dog can have both big and small, sand-like stones, that can still cause major issues for your k-9.
Many owners are unaware that their dog has bladder stones until they see some signs. Bladder symptoms usually are formed when there is a larger amount of stone-forming compounds present in the urine, which can be due to different reasons, such as previous urinary infections, changes in the diet, or metabolism changes.
When the urine has too much of these compounds, it is too saturated and they start to precipitate, forming crystals. Those crystals irritate the bladder mucosa which in return forms mucus, sticking to the crystals, making them grow even more and create visible stones.
Types of bladder stones
The name of the bladder stones comes from the compound that makes them and in dogs, several different types of stones can be found:
Struvite stones: the compound that makes these stones is magnesium ammonium phosphate hexahydrate and it is the most common mineral type that is found in dogs. It is usually formed after a urinary infection with specific bacteria, which changes the pH of the urine, leading to struvite formation.
Calcium oxalate stones: this type of stone is more commonly seen in cats but they can be found in dogs too. It is still unclear how exactly they form, but it is thought that increased intake of calcium with the diet could lead to the formation of this type of stone.
Urate stones: this type of stone can be seen when the dog also has another pathology that affects the liver, such as a portosystemic shunt. Also, chances in the hepatic membrane transport of uric acid could lead to urate stone formation, which is commonly seen in Dalmatians.
Cystine stones: the high presence of cystine in the urine, which can be the result of improper tubular filtration in the kidneys could lead to the formation of this type of stone.
Silicate stones: even though the exact mechanism of formation of this type of stone is unknown, it is thought that excessive intake of silica acid, silicates, and magnesium silicate could help speed up this process.
What are the clinical signs of dogs with bladder stones?
The first thing every owner notices is the presence of blood in the urine – hematuria and chances in the peeing – dysuria. Hematuria occurs because the stones damage the bladder wall causing it to bleed. Dysuria results from muscle spasms of the ureter or mechanical obstruction of urine flow. Dogs that have stones are in great pain, which is why the owners may notice them whining whenever they are going to the potty.
How are bladder stones in dogs diagnosed?
Whenever you bring your dog to the vet with the complaint that it has blood in the urine and difficulty urinating, your vet will try to have you collect a urine sample. If they suspect the presence of stones, the best way to confirm is with ultrasound and x-ray. In rare cases, stones can be palpated in the bladder, but not being able to feel them, does not exclude the possibility of their presence.
Treatment options for dogs with bladder stones
If the dog is unable to urinate, the only option is the surgical removal of the bladder stones and restoring urine flow. The removal of the stone is done with a procedure called cystotomy, which means opening the urine bladder and collecting all of the stones from the bladder.
The other method is dietary changes, but owners should be aware that this treatment method does not work for every type of bladder stone. Your veterinarian will prescribe your dog supplements and a special medical diet.
The owner could pay up to $1800 for the surgical removal of bladder stones.