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What are the signs?
Bladder stones occur in dogs, but are often not detected until the pet shows signs of pain and discomfort.
Common signs include:
- Blood in the urine
- Urinating frequently, straining to urinate
- Pain on urination
- Urinating in inappropriate places
- An inability to urinate
What should I do?
If your dog shows any of these signs, he needs to be examined by your veterinarian straight away. Diseases of the urinary tract can be serious, and different problems often cause the same or similar symptoms. Your vet will be able to distinguish the cause and initiate the treatment most appropriate for your pet.
What will my vet do?
If bladder stones are causing your dog’s symptoms, a radiograph or ultrasound examination will be performed. There are different stone types made up of different types of minerals and your dog’s treatment will depend on the mineral composition of the stone.
Some bladder stones can be dissolved by changing your dog’s diet, whereas others need to be removed surgically. Furthermore, struvite bladder stones that can be dissolved by a specially formulated diet are often accompanied by a bacterial infection requiring antibiotics to be administered daily.
The other common bladder stone is composed of calcium oxalate which cannot be dissolved by changing the diet. If these stones are small your vet may be able to flush them out of the bladder by a method called urohydropropulsion, but more commonly, surgery is required. Once these have been removed they can often regrow and this is where changing to a special urinary diet can help managed their regrowth, along with ongoing monitoring at least every 6 months, by your vet.
Can I prevent my dog from getting bladder stones?
Bladder stones can be a serious concern for your dog, so what steps can you take as a pet owner to reduce the likelihood of them developing in the first place?
- Diet: Premium pet foods such as Hill’s Science Diets are often formulated to support your dog's bladder health by controlling levels of potential stone forming nutrients and minerals. Also, feeding a pet multiple small meals a day can help maintain a healthier bladder environment.
- Supplements: Avoid using nutritional supplements, particularly those containing calcium or Vitamins C or D unless advised by veterinarians.
- Water intake: Urine sediment can contribute to stone formation. This can be reduced by increasing water intake to dilute the urine by :
- Feeding canned food
- Adding extra water to the pet’s food
- Provide a drinking fountain
- Making sure clean fresh water is always available
- Exercise: By walking your dog multiple times a day gives him more opportunities to urinate. This will decrease urine retention inside the bladder, which is a factor in stone formation.
- Follow up: Even if your dog is on a urinary diet, never set and forget. Take your dog to visit the vet regularly so any problems can be picked up early and treated promptly.
Dr Penny Dobson BVSc MACVSc (Canine)
Penny is a graduate of the University of Queensland with a Bachelor of Veterinary Science (BVSc), a member of the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists in Canine Medicine since 1992 and was a Member of the Animal Experimentation Ethics Committee of the Microresearch Foundation 1991-1992.
Penny has worked as a clinician in small animal practice in Sydney for 30 yrs and is a Veterinary Practice owner with her husband. Nutrition is a passion for Penny and she is the Hill’s Helpline Manager with the Veterinary Nutritional Consultancy team with a focus on uroliths, kidney, obesity, immune diseases and their management.