Your pet's life is not always a smooth ride. Sometimes they
literally land on the rocks! Stones do not belong in the body, but quite
frequently we do find them in various organs and tissues. They affect virtually
all pets from dogs and cats to bunnies and reptiles.
One of the most common sites for stone formation is the
bladder. Urinary stones can also be found in the kidneys and anywhere along the
There are many kinds, sizes
and shapes of bladder stones, which form from mineral crystal build-up in the
urine. Factors such as urine concentration, frequency of urination, urine
acidity, bladder infections and other factors that facilitate crystallization
are responsible for the stone development.
Some breeds are prone to bladder stones. Congenital
problems are also known to cause them. Dalmatians and English Bulldogs have a
defect in urate metabolism and are prone to urate stones. Many small breeds,
such as Yorkshire terriers and Schnauzers have a congenital liver shunt that
causes high levels of blood ammonia and urates. Newfoundland dogs have a kidney
defect that causes cystine stones.
Low water intake and diet also
cause stone formations. High levels of calcium, due to a calcium rich diet,
excess vitamin D or diseases such as hyperactive parathyroid gland, cause
calcium deposits in the bladder.
Many pets will have little or no clinical signs. The stones
are found accidentally by the veterinarian. Signs may be common to other
problems, such as urinary tract conditions, and include frequent and painful
urination, urinating in the house, bloody or discolored urine, and pain in the
Bladder stones may be found by
palpation of the bladder, x-rays and ultrasounds, while crystals are seen and
identified in the urine analysis. Large stones are removed surgically and sent
for analysis. A complete blood test, urine culture and other additional tests
are sometimes needed to complete the diagnosis.
While large stones require
surgical removal, some small stones and crystals may be dissolved medically or
by special diets. The stone composition is needed to correctly formulate the
Antibiotics are usually used
to control infections. Future stone formation is addressed through medications
and special dietary formulations. Moist diets help increase the water intake and
pets should be encouraged to drink plenty of water. It is also important that
the pets do not hold urine in the bladder for long periods because of an
inability to go out in the case of dogs, or a litter box problem in the case of
Periodic exams, urine analysis
and other tests are important to keep the patient pets healthy and to fine-tune