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Bladder Stones in Dogs: Common Symptoms, Treatment and Aftercare

07.10.2022 - Reading time: 4 minutes

Ein Hund liegt unter eine Decke

Bladder stones arise from crystal deposits that form from minerals in the kidneys of the dog, and can get so big that the animal can no longer urinate. An unrecognised or untreated bladder stone can have life-threatening consequences. For this reason, it is very important that you know the symptoms and, if in doubt, contact a vet immediately.


What are urinary stones in dogs?

Bladder stones are formed from mineral crystals that settle in the area of the urinary tract. Urinary stones appear in the entire urinary tract and occur in the kidneys, the bladder, the urethra or the ureter. Urinary stones (uroliths) that occur in the bladder are called bladder stones.

Which urinary stones in dogs are there?

There are several types that differ in their mineral composition. If bladder stones form in a dog, too high a percentage of certain minerals in the dog’s food can be a reason.

Types of bladder stones in dogs:

  • Magnesium ammonium phosphate stones
  • Struvit or calcium oxalate stones
  • Calcium carbonate stones
  • Urate stones
  • Cystine stones
  • Ammonium urate stones

To prevent a repeat formation of bladder stones, it is important to know the precise composition of the existing urinary stones because the administration of medication and a corresponding diet is aligned to this.

What are the causes of bladder stones in dogs?

The formation of bladder stones in dogs can have different causes. For instance, due to a bacterial urinary infection, the pH value in the urine can increase, which aids the formation of struvit stones.

A decisive factor is too high a percentage of certain minerals in the feed. If the feed contains a lot of calcium, magnesium or phosphorus, this aids the formation of urinary stones.

Insufficent intake of water in dogs can also result in bladder stones. If a dog does not drink enough, the kidneys reclaim the required water from the urine. This results in a particularly concentrated urine with a high percentage of salt. This creates a supersaturated solution from which salts fall out that are in turn deposited in the urinary tract.

Certain illnesses such as functional disorders of the liver can also cause the formation of urinary stones.

Some breeds have a genetically higher risk of getting urinary stones. Dalmatians, for instance, are the only breed that cannot break down some types of protein due to their metabolism and excrete them via their urine.

Statistically, the following breeds suffer from bladder stones more:

  • Dalmatian
  • Pug
  • Bulldog
  • Sled Dog (Husky)
  • Yorkshire Terrier
  • Miniature Schnauzer
  • Boston Terrier

Gender also plays a role in the formation of bladder stones. Females frequently develop struvit stones, whereas male dogs tend to suffer from other types of stones.

Which symptoms are caused by bladder stones in dogs?

The following symptoms can indicate bladder stones in dogs:

  • Increased urge to urinate
  • Frequent urination of only small quantities
  • Difficulty in urinating
  • Sounds of pain when urinating
  • Pain in the stomach area
  • A firm, tight stomach
  • incontinence
  • Blood in urine

However, these signs also occur with other illnesses. You should at any rate seek out your vet in the event of visible problems in urinating and if other symptoms occur so that your vet can make a precise diagnosis.

Illnesses of the urinary tract often cause severe pain. If the bladder stones prevent the passing of urine, the urine accumulates and can flow back to the kidneys which can result in kidney failure.

How are urinary stones treated in dogs?

To ascertain bladder stones, the vet examines the urine of your dog. In addition, he or she checks any bladder stones that have been washed out with regard to their composition. The location and size of bladder stones can be determined with ultrasound and X-ray examinations.

Smaller bladder stones can sometimes be dissolved with medication. With larger bladder stones, an operation under full narcosis is the conventional method of treatment. A new procedure which is currently being tested in some countries is treating the bladder stones with laser technology like with people.

If bladder stones in the dog are removed by an operation, you will have high fees to pay as the dog’s owner. These can indeed be in the upper three-digit range. If you are the owner of a genetically predisposed breed of dog, a health insurance for animals might be recommendable.

After a bladder stone operation, your dog will have to take antibiotics and other medication for some time and stick to a diet for the rest of its life to prevent the formation of new urinary stones. Before buying diet feed, it is essential to be familiar with all the relevant information about the urinary stone as the diet is oriented to the type of bladder stones diagnosed. In this way, the various diet feeds can be precisely tailored to certain urinary stones. For instance, theprepared feed for preventing struvite stones is rich in sodium chloride, but contains little protein, phosphorus and magnesium; in addition, certain substances acidify the urine. High-quality diet feed which you can also get as wet or dry feed from Maxizoo can be recommended to you by your vet.


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