bladder stonesBladder stones are a common, very painful condition in humans, but did you know that dogs and cats can get bladder stones too? At Austin Veterinary Emergency and Specialty (AVES), we diagnose cases of bladder stones in pets frequently. In addition, AVES wants pet owners to know the common warning signs and how bladder stones are treated in pets.

What Are Bladder Stones?

Bladder stones, also known as urinary calculi, can form anywhere in the urinary tract of your pet. They can be found in the kidneys, ureters, bladder, or urethra. In most cases, however, the stones are found in the bladder or urethra.

There are several different types of bladder stones.  Two of the most common types of bladder stones are: Struvite stones, which are found in both dogs and cats, and often form as a result of urinary tract infections, and calcium oxalate stones, which are also very common (especially in cats), and are thought to possibly be correlated to urine concentration and dietary factors.  There are several other types of bladder stones, however, and different stone types sometimes require different treatment methods (especially for long-term treatment and prevention).  Evaluation by a veterinarian and pathologist is necessary to determine what type of stone is affecting your pet.

Female dogs tend to get bladder infections and stones more often than male dogs, though, male dogs are more likely to become obstructed when dealing with bladder stones.  In cats, however, males are more likely to deal with bladder stones, and are still also more likely to become obstructed.

Common symptoms of bladder stones include bloody urine, frequent urination, urinary accidents in the house, and straining to urinate. You may also notice that your pet will urinate frequently, but only go a small amount each time or dribble urine. Bladder stones are painful, especially if the stone(s) have obstructed the urethra (which blocks the bladder and prevents your pet from being able to urinate).  Urinary obstruction is an emergency situation and should be treated immediately by a veterinarian.

Treating Bladder Stones in Pets

Bladder stones in dogs can be treated in numerous ways. The three primary treatments are surgery, diet, and urohydropropulsion. Each of these treatment options has benefits and disadvantages.

Surgery is the most common treatment for bladder stones in pets.  Particularly if your dog has a large number of bladder stones, is obstructed, or is at risk for an obstruction, surgery may be the best option. Surgery is also one of the fastest ways to remove bladder stones, which is critical in emergency situations. In cases where there is a urinary blockage, for example, emergency surgery is often necessary. Specific types of bladder stone surgeries can also offer options for patients that have had repeated incidences of bladder stones, though these delicate procedures should be performed by a veterinary specialist.

A specialized diet can be an option for certain types of stones, when the risk of urinary tract obstruction is low. These diets should only be given with direct instruction from a veterinarian and are not intended for long-term use.

Urohydropropulsion is another non-surgical way to get rid of bladder stones. With this method, a specialized catheter is put in the bladder and used to flush the stones out. In some cases, this method can be done under heavy sedation, but most often, it is done under general anesthesia.

Preventing Bladder Stones in Pets

Working to prevent bladder stones from forming in the first place can prevent the headache of treating them later. If your pet is prone to bladder stones, speak to your veterinarian about switching your dog or cat to a specialized diet or diet additive that will make your pet less likely to develop the stones.  These diets are specifically formulated to be used long-term, unlike the diets that are used for stone dissolution.

Additionally, pets with chronic bladder stone formation should have their urine monitored frequently by a veterinarian.

If your dog or cat has bladder stones, a veterinary internist can help. If you are in Austin, Texas, AVES Contact AVES today at 512-343-2837 to get your pet’s bladder stones treated.