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What are Bladder Stones?

Bladder stones are a result of crystals that form from minerals in the urine. The crystals will form when there is a high salt concentration in the urine as well as a favourable pH (hydrogen ion concentration) level to facilitate crystallisation. If there is an excessive amount of crystal formation, these will then join and form calculi (stones). These stones can accumulate in the bladder causing discomfort and irritation. Stones can also become stuck in the urethra (the duct that carries urine out of the body) and cause an obstruction of urine flow. An obstruction is considered a veterinary emergency.

If your dog is encountering painful urination, you should act quickly. This situation can be life threatening and may be due to a number of issues, including bladder stones (medically recognised as urinary calculi). If your dog has urolithiasis, they may have blood in their urine and will urine quite frequently, with only a small amount each time.

Bladder Stones Average Cost

From 174 quotes ranging from $400 - $2,500

Average Cost

$1,200

Symptoms of Bladder Stones in Dogs

The symptoms present depend on where in the urinary tract the stones have accumulated. Symptoms of bladder stones include:

  • Straining to urinate
  • Blood in urine
  • Foul smell of the urine
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Producing only small amounts of urine
  • Incontinence or dribbling of urine
  • Abdominal discomfort

If the stones have progressed from the bladder and into the urethra, causing an obstruction, dogs may display the following additional symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy (lack of energy)
Types

There are several different types or varieties of urinary stones that will form dependent on their mineral composition. The bladder stones most commonly found in dogs accumulate from the following mineral and chemical compositions:

  • Struvite
  • Calcium Oxalate
  • Urate
  • Cystine
  • Silicate
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Causes of Bladder Stones in Dogs

The definitive cause of bladder stone formation is not fully known. However, there are several factors that contribute to the formation of stones.

  • Prevalence of a urinary tract infection
  • Inflammation of the urinary bladder lining
  • High dietary intake of certain minerals and proteins
  • Reduced water intake
  • Large amount of salts in the urine
  • Optimal pH levels in the urine for stone formation
  • Breed predispositions
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Diagnosis of Bladder Stones in Dogs

Diagnosis of canine bladder stones is suspected from the above clinical symptoms. In order to form a definitive diagnosis, the veterinarian may perform several tests including urinalysis, radiography, and ultrasound.

Urinalysis involves a complete analysis of a urine sample. It features a dipstick test, a measure of urine specific gravity, and examination of the urine sediment under a microscope. The dipstick test measures values such as pH, protein content, glucose values, ketones, and traces of blood. The microscopic examination allows the veterinarian to look for the presence of red and white blood cells, epithelial cells, casts, bacteria, and most important, the crystals associated with bladder stones.

Radiographs are performed to determine the location and number of stones within the bladder or distal urinary tract. Many stones are radiopaque meaning that they will show up on the x-rays. Otherwise, a contrast agent can be introduced into the bladder to assist with visualisation. It is especially important to analyse the number and size of bladder stones in case a surgical removal of the stones is necessary.

Ultrasound is another tool that a veterinarian will use to visualise the stones; it is usually used to look for stones that do not show up on a plain x-ray. Ultrasound helps to determine the number of stones present, size, and location.

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Treatment of Bladder Stones in Dogs

Once canine bladder stones have been diagnosed, treatment options include dietary management and medical dissolution, urohydropropulsion, surgical removal, and laser lithotripsy. The treatment choice will depend on type and size of bladder stones present.

Dietary management and medical dissolution can be effective depending on the types of stones identified and the likelihood of an obstruction due to size. Struvite is the most common composition of bladder stones in dogs and usually responds well to the dietary and medical treatment approach. The dog is fed a prescription veterinary diet that is specifically formulated to dissolve the crystals along with concurrent medications such as antibiotics to treat urinary infections. The patient will require a repeat urinalysis after two weeks to check that the crystals have dissolved adequately. After treatment, dogs are often switched to an ongoing preventive urinary diet.

Urohydropropulsion is a technique used to expel smaller stones from the bladder as well as dislodge stones stuck in the urethra. Urohydropropulsion involves placing a urinary catheter usually under sedation and flushing the bladder with sterile saline. The bladder is then compressed through palpation of the abdomen expelling the saline along with the smaller stones present.

Surgical removal is necessary with stones that do not respond to dietary and medical management due to their mineral composition and stones that are too big to pass through the urinary tract by urohydropropulsion. The surgical procedure performed is known as a cystotomy and there can be an anaesthetic risk, especially in older or compromised patients. Following surgery, preventative dietary adjustments should be made to prevent the reoccurrence of stones.

Laser lithotripsy is a technique that is currently only available in specialist veterinary centres. The laser is guided into the urinary tract with endoscopic equipment and breaks up the stones within the bladder so that they can be passed naturally. The procedure is less invasive compared to surgery and has a faster recovery time for the patient.

The best treatment method will be discussed by the veterinarian after a complete urinalysis and examination to determine the type of stones present.

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Recovery of Bladder Stones in Dogs

Following treatment of canine bladder stones, a repeat urinalysis is performed several weeks later to check for reoccurrence of crystal formation. Once the stones are dissolved or removed from the bladder and the underlying bacterial infection is treated, the condition has a good prognosis.

Dietary dissolution and medical management is a less invasive approach but often takes a longer time to dissolve the crystals. Recovery from a cystotomy surgery is relatively quick, with the dog usually able to go home the following day. The surgical incision will take on average two weeks to fully heal and will need to be rechecked, which is usually when the repeat urinary sample is examined.

Dogs will often be placed on a urinary prescription diet on an ongoing basis. Such diets are specifically formulated to prevent future stone formation. Additionally, water consumption should be increased to help keep the urine diluted. The most common way to increase water consumption in dogs is to increase feeding of canned food as opposed to a sole dry food diet.

Following recovery, ongoing management is crucial to prevent the formation of bladder stones from reoccurring.

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Cost of Bladder Stones in Dogs

Treatment cost for bladder stones will depend on the optimal method for their removal.

If dietary and medical management is indicated, this will involve the purchase of a prescription diet and concurrent medications. A case of 12 Hill’s Prescription Diet S/D Urinary Care canned dog food is on average between $35 - $55. Medication costs will depend on what is prescribed by the veterinarian and can be between $30 - $85 for the duration of treatment.

Urohydropropulsion expenses involve sedation, urinary catheterisation, and irrigating fluids. Costs will vary depending on what drugs are used for sedation and the relative time it takes to perform the procedure. Urohydropropulsion including sedation can cost between $325 - $750.

Surgical expenses need to cover anaesthetic costs, IV fluids throughout surgery, surgical equipment, the surgeons time and expertise for the procedure, hospitalisation during recovery, postoperative medications, and additional analysis of stones and urine. The cost for a cystotomy can start at $1,300 for smaller breeds and increase to $2,200 for larger breeds as they require a bigger dose of induction drugs, fluids, gas anaesthetic, and use more surgical material.

Laser lithotripsy is considered a specialist procedure and is only performed at certain facilities. The cost is approximately $800 - $1,200 for the procedure, not including sedation or anaesthetics. The additional expenses for sedation or anaesthesia are dependent on the protocol used and can be between $500 - $1000.

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Bladder Stones Average Cost

From 174 quotes ranging from $400 - $2,500

Average Cost

$1,200

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Bladder Stones Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Shih Tzu

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Blood In Urine

My dog has faint blood in her urine and I just saw a small white stone come out while she urinated. She’s eating normally and has her normal energy

Sept. 5, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello- Thank you for your question. Your dog needs to see a veterinarian for an x-ray and a urinalysis. If one stone was urinated out there are likely several others present in the bladder. Sometimes bladder stones can be resolved via a prescription urinary diet, but many times they need to be removed surgically. I hope she feels better soon.

Sept. 5, 2020

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Roscoe

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Pit bull

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5 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

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Sad

My 5 year old pitbull mix just had stone sugary 2 days post op. He has great energies but it right now he’s having some things that he has a lot of pee in the middle of the night and Pee a lot and it’s on our bed 2nd time in a roll and he has never done this to us before. He gets so upset after doing this. Is that normal after sugary ? Is he just getting use to all of it? Is it normal for him to want to pee in the middle of the night so much?

Sept. 14, 2018

Roscoe's Owner

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Brutus

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Bulldog

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11 Months

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

No Urination.

My 11 month old Pit Bull, Brutus, had bladder stones removed 12 days ago. He's been on the prescription food and meds since then. He has yet to be able to produce a full stream urination. The first few days he dribbled, he tries to urinate and nothing comes out. In the morning his bedding is soaked. He's been back to the vet 7 times to get bladder emptied and assessed. When we came out of the Vet's office yesterday, he hiked his leg and tinkled just a bit. All looks good on the X-rays and ultrasound but still not urinating. I'm very concerned. I was sent home with the below meds for the weekend and an appointment on Monday. I'm told that if this doesn't work, I'll have to take him to a specialist 120 miles away.

Aug. 25, 2018

Brutus' Owner

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0 Recommendations

After urinary stones, there may be a few different issues with urination and a little urinary incontinence may be considered ‘normal’ for a few days to weeks; however if there is no improvement over the next week or so or cannot be medically managed you should think about consulting a Specialist. Without examining Brutus I cannot really weigh in with a way forward here. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 25, 2018

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Leo

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Pomeranan

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11 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting

Hi. I was told my dog had an intestional blockage and needed surgery. I brought him in vomiting bile 6 times in less then 12hours. Hes old with heart conditions but they said it had to be done. They also mentioned he had bladder stones. He made it thru surgery and we were told they moved the blockage along to the colon and it will pass. They didnt cut the intestines. But they cut the bladder and flushed out stones. We are 5 days post surgery and he has not pooped out any obstruction. Can you review my ultrasound for a 2nd opinion? I think they lied to us. I dont see the blockage and no one showed us. He almost died. He just started eating after 5days and it cost us $6300K. Would a hospital actually do something so awful? My gut doesnt feel right about it. Do i need a radiologist to read it? Please advise 😢. Also dr called today to say my dog needs a prescription diet.

Aug. 3, 2018

Leo's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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I'm sorry that Leo had those problems! The veterinary hospital would not have lied to you about the obstruction, no. If they were able to push whatever was causing the problem to the colon, that is actually a good thing, although if he isn't having BM's 5 days post op that might need a follow up recheck. Getting rid of the bladder stones was a good thing for them to do while he was having surgery, and they may have found out that the type of stones they were mean he needs a particular food. Since you have so many questions, I think it would be a good idea to either follow up with your veterinarian for more information if you trust them, or seek a second opinion with another veterinarian to see what they see on the x-rays or ultrasound (you can get copies of those), and to give you an opinion on how Leo's case has been handled.

Aug. 3, 2018

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Leah

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miniature dachshund

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8 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Urinated Stone

My dog is a 8year old miniature dachshund. She is partly paralyzed and has stones. She has to be expressed to empty her bladder so a surgery is not an option. What else can be done? She is on urinary prescription food ever since she got paralyzed. This morning she peed out a stone. Is there any other option for her?

July 30, 2018

Leah's Owner

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0 Recommendations

It really depends on the type of urinary stones since some may be dissolved and prevented with dietary changes and supplements (see link below). There are other possible methods but they are commonly used in universities or specialist centers, however dietary management is the mainstay of treatment. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.msdvetmanual.com/urinary-system/noninfectious-diseases-of-the-urinary-system-in-small-animals/urolithiasis-in-small-animals

July 31, 2018

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Mattie

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Bischon

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11 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Bladder Stones

I have a 11 yr old bischon. Very active and sweet. 6 mos ago she was peeing blood. Found out she had stones (4 bigger sizes). Did surgery and now she has them again. Dr is shocked 2 big ones came so fast in a 6 mo. Time. He’s saying surgery again. She’s on no special diet. He gave her antibiotics today but idk what to do. I can’t afford to spend thousands every 6 months. Is that normal to get them that fast and at a large size? Any recommendations? Should I have see a specialist. If so,what kind?

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lucky

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Jack Russell Terrier

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14 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Blood In Urine, Unable To Pee
Blood In Urine, Unable To Pee Letha

my jack Russel lucky, has a stone in his bladder blocking his urination the vet used a catheter to push the stone back and urine and blood evacuated. temporary fix due to my dogs age and heart murmur my vet wouldn't perform procedure she referred us to emergency hospital for surgery asap will laser surgery succeed and where is it available in NYC thousands of $ we don't have

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Chuck

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yorkie bichon

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2 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

My dog had bladder stone surgery 2 weeks ago. He is peeing but he will sometimes try to go multiple times, like he's straining to go. Is this normal? The surgery center says it's probably bladder spasms. Is this normal 2 weeks out? How long can I expect this to happen. He's been taking all his antibiotics, inflammatory medicine and has switched to Royal Canin SO. I just want to be proactive and make sure there isn't more issues brewing.

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Bella

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Miniature Schnauzer

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7 Years

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Moderate severity

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pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Painful Urination
Uti
Bladder Stones

Bella’s a 7 year old Schnauzer. About a year ago, (last December) she had a fibrocartilagenous embolism which left her paralyzed from the waist down. I had to empty her bladder by expressing it, and since then she has to wear diapers so she doesn’t pee all over her legs. She had hbot treatments for a couple of weeks, and it seemed like it helped. She regained some of her mobility on her legs but not 100% (she can’t move her tail, and her legs are very stiff). A couple months after, she started peeing more often, more like leaking. I just thought it was the symptoms of the embolism. She was like that for a couple of months, until she started to feel/seem very sick (June). She was throwing up, not eating or drinking, didn’t want to move, didn’t want to go to the bathroom, didn’t poop, and all she did was lay on her bed. Then she started peeing blood, and after finally being able to find a vet that was available (it was a holiday) I took her to the vet and she was diagnosed with an UTI, bladder stones, and severely dehydrated. They gave her IV fluids, an antibiotic shot, and sent us home. They recommender a cystotomy. She was feeling and seem so much better after they gave her fluids. I scheduled her surgery and it happened a week later. During that week, she was passing the stones, as I could see them trapped on her diaper. On her surgery day I brought the passed stones, and on the surgery they said that they didn’t find any stones, she passed them all and that they flushed her bladder. They gave me antibiotics and sent the stones I brought to the lab. The lab results said that bella had struvite stones. The vet recommended a special diet called C/D diet which would prevent any other stones to come back. I bought the food and started giving it to bella. Then 2 months passed (September) and I was at the vet giving bella her annual exam and shots ( rabies, etc.) during the exam, the vet felt her bladder and said that she might have stones. She did an X-ray and yes, she had stones. Bella wasn’t showing any symptoms of it. The vet said to keep giving her the special food and if she started developing symptoms to bring her back. Then we are now in November and she started showing symptoms of her bladder stones. She’s is leaking and peeing more often at home, her urine is dark and has a odor, and she has been passing some stones. I took her to the vet and they did some exams. They did a blood exam, urine exam and culture. Her blood was good, but her urine culture said that she has a staph bacteria infection. The vet thinks her being kind of paralyzed can be the cause of her recurrent UTI and bladder stones. He did some neurological exams and those parts of her body didn’t respond, one of them was an ultrasound of her bladder and when he pussed on it it didn’t moved at all. They recommended another surgery and an maybe look for a neurologist, and to have an urine culture every 3 months. I love Bella so much, but if her bladder is “paralyzed” and is going to need surgery every 6 months to remove stones, then I don’t want to put her through that and make her suffer. I also can’t afford to do more surgeries, and exams as me and my husband just got our pay reduced on our jobs. I am not sure what to do, I love this dog like it’s my own child, but everyone I talk to tells me the same. That she is suffering and that maybe it’s time.

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Bella

dog-breed-icon

Miniature Schnauzer

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7 Years

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Moderate severity

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pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Licking At Genitals
Dark Urine
Bladder Stones
Leak Urine

My schnauzer started peeing in the house, but it was more like leaks because it wasn’t much. I thought this was a symptom of her Fibrocartilaginous embolism that happened last December. I started using diapers so she didn’t make a mess. This continued for a couple of months and then she started throwing up, not eating, no energy, didn’t go outside to go to the bathroom and all she did was lay on her bed. She started peeing blood as the diaper was red. Then I took her to the vet and was diagnosed with bladder stones. This was last June (4 months ago.) She had a cystotomy (bladder surgery) to remove the stones. Then the vet recommended she has a special diet “C/D diet” and she’s been in that diet since then. Couple months later, on September I took her to the vet to get her shots and the vet (new vet, I had moved) said she might have felt some stones on her bladder and she did some xrays and the stones were back. They were small, so she said that continue with the diet and hope it would pass. Now, it’s october, and my schnauzer is beginning to show the same symptoms. She is starting to leak pee in the house, she’s been licking her privates more often, and I’ve been using diapers on her so I can get to see her pee, and her pee is now becoming darker and almost a greenish color. I’m hoping she doesn’t have to get another surgery, after only 4 months of her last one. First, because I’m not sure that I can afford it, and second, because if she has another one, does that mean she is going to have surgeries every 4 months to remove the stones? Is there another solution, other than surgery? Or is there another food that is more effective?

Bladder Stones Average Cost

From 174 quotes ranging from $400 - $2,500

Average Cost

$1,200

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