Bladder stones and obstructions
Bladder stones are rock-like accumulations of minerals which can form in the bladder. The bladder stones can occur as a few larger stones or multiple smaller stones. The smaller stones can sometimes block the urethra, which is the outflow tube from the bladder, causing pain or difficulty with urination.
Signs of bladder stones
Depending on the size and number of stones that form in the bladder, sometimes pets do not show any signs of having them. In other cases, the presence of bladder stones can cause blood-tinged urine, difficulty urinating and increased frequency of urination. If the stones are blocking the urethra preventing urination, this can quickly become painful for the pet, and they may appear lethargic, lose their appetite and can often vomit.
If the bladder cannot empty urine, not only is this painful for the pet, but the toxic products that are normally excreted out of the body in urine, build up in the bloodstream and can result in kidney damage and other problems. A blocked bladder is also at risk of rupturing, where urine can leak into the abdominal cavity causing disease.
Why do bladder stones form?
There are a variety of causes which can contribute to the formation of bladder stones, including high blood levels of particular minerals, changes in the acidity of the urine, bacterial infections and abnormal metabolism of various minerals, which can occur in specific dog breeds such as Dalmatians.
Depending on their size, number and location, bladder stones can often be diagnosed via a combination of physical examination, urine tests and imaging (x-rays). Treatment of bladder stones will vary depending on the size of the stones and the type of mineral which has formed them. Larger bladder stones in the bladder can be removed surgically, and pets with urethral obstruction will require surgery or other procedures under anaesthesia to flush the urethra. There are also special urinary diets which we may recommend to help dissolve and prevent bladder stones forming.