WHAT ARE URINARY AND BLADDER STONES?
Urinary stones (or medically known as urolithiasis) are a very common condition when it comes to lower urinary tract diseases in domestic animals.
Bladder stones, on the other hand, medically known as calculi, are the result of precipitation and formation of crystals due to a variety of minerals.
Urinary and bladder stones can be formed by several factors and these factors need to be eliminated in order to successfully treat these conditions.
WHAT CAN CONTRIBUTE TO THE FORMATION OF URINARY AND BLADDER STONES?
- an abnormally high concentration of salt minerals in the urine
- retention of crystals and salts in the urinary tract for some period of time (urinary blockage)
- pH that favors salt crystallization
- a decrease in the body’s ability to inhibit crystal formation
- predisposition for urinary crystal formation
SYMPTOMS OF URINARY/BLADDER STONES:
The symptoms of urinary/bladder stones can vary depending on the specific location where they occur or they form a blockage.
Most urinary stones are located in the urinary bladder or the urethra, and a very small percentage get lodged in the kidneys or the ureters.
Urinary stones can cause severe damage to the lining of the urethra and the bladder and cause serious inflammation. This inflammation can lead to a UTI (urinary tract infection) that can cause serious discomfort to the pet.
Some of the symptoms of urinary or bladder stones are:
- bloody urine
- straining to urinate
- urinating more frequently but smaller amounts
- accidents in the house
- abdominal discomfort/pain
Sometimes urinary stones can make a formation that blocks the urethra and this is a serious condition that requires immediate veterinary care. The signs of a urethral blockage are very obvious: the inability to urinate entirely and dripping bloody drops.
Diagnosis of urinary and bladder stones is most often done with an ultrasound and an x-ray.
TREATMENT OF URINARY AND BLADDER STONES
Depending on the type of urinary stones, they can be either treated with surgery or by a modified diet.
Silicate stones, urates, calcium oxalate stones, and cystine stones cannot be dissolved and they require surgical treatment.
Sometimes, struvite stones respond well to a commercially prepared diet and they get dissolved. This diet is not recommended for long-term use, only until the stones are dissolved.
In the video below, you can watch a surgical procedure for removing bladder stones in a dog.
Dr. Greg shows what bladder stones are, and what may cause them. Moister, higher protein food may help prevent phosphate stones and adding potassium citrate/ cranberry to a moister diet may prevent oxalate stones.
Check out our blog post “Important things to consider before performing vet surgery“.