Kidney Stones in Dogs

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Kidney Stones in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Kidney Stones in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What are Kidney Stones?

All dogs are susceptible to developing kidney stones, though some breeds are more susceptible to certain types of stones. Kidney stones can be painful and lead to urinary tract inflammation, infection, tissue damage and possible urinary tract obstruction. Kidney stones, also known as nephroliths, are crystal formations in the kidneys resulting from the concentration of mineral salts in the urine. Stones can also form in the bladder, ureters or urethra. If you suspect your pet is having symptoms of kidney stones, schedule an veterinarian appointment as soon as possible. If you can, collect a sample of urine in a container directly from the stream of urine.

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Kidney Stones Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $800 - $7,500

Average Cost

$3,500

Symptoms of Kidney Stones in Dogs

Stones may not cause symptoms at all. Symptoms that may be observed are similar to those involved with urinary tract infections and include:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Urinating in odd places
  • Licking at genitals
  • Pain during urination
  • Straining to urinate
  • Frequent urination producing only small amounts
  • Recurrent urinary tract infections
  • Abdominal pain
Types


Kidney stones form from the precipitation of mineral salts. The type of salt that the crystal is formed from defines the kidney stone type, though some stones can be formed from more than one type of salt.  Kidney stones can be made up of several types of minerals, including:

  • Uric acid
  • Calcium oxalate
  • Struvite (magnesium ammonium phosphate)
  • Cystine
  • Calcium phosphate
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Causes of Kidney Stones in Dogs

The normal urine of a dog is slightly acidic and contains dissolved mineral products. As long as the urine remains dilute and at the correct pH, mineral salts remain in solution. If the pH of the urine becomes too acidic or alkaline or the urine becomes too concentrated, crystals of salt will precipitate out and form stones. The causes of kidney stone formation can include one or more of the following:

  • Increased mineral salt concentration in the urine (can result from diet or urinary tract infection).
  • Increased water reabsorption by the kidneys
  • Changes in urine pH (can result from diet or urinary tract infection)
  • Urinary tract infection – bacteria produce urease, an enzyme that breaks down urea in dog urine resulting in a more alkaline urine pH.
  • Long term use of diuretics
  • Dehydration
  • Genetic predisposition - breeds include (but are not limited to) the bichon fries, lhasa apso, miniature schnauzer, and Yorkshire terrier.
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Diagnosis of Kidney Stones in Dogs

If you suspect your pet is having symptoms of kidney stones, visit the veterinarian as soon as possible. If you can, collect a sample of urine in a container directly from the stream of urine. Keep the urine in the refrigerator until your appointment. Samples over 24 hours old may not be useful for analysis. Try to collect a sample first thing in the morning the day of your veterinarian visit.

A history of symptoms will be noted. A complete physical examination can detect an obstructed bladder and/or abdominal pain. The definitive diagnosis of kidney stones is made using abdominal x-ray or ultrasound.

If you are not able to collect a sample of urine from home, the veterinarian can collect one at the clinic. A urinalysis can detect the presence of blood in the urine, abnormal pH and the presence of crystals. A guess as to the type of stone can be made based on microscopic observation of urine, however detecting the true makeup is through submission of a stone or stone fragment to the laboratory for analysis.

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Treatment of Kidney Stones in Dogs

Method of treatment will depend on the size, type and location of the stones.

Medications

Medications or supplements can be prescribed to acidify the urine and aid in dissolving the stones. Medications may be prescribed to increase water intake in an attempt to dilute mineral salts in the urine. Antibiotics may be required to prevent urinary tract infection or treat a current infection. Pain medications may be prescribed.

Dietary Adjustment

When risk of urinary tract obstruction is low, and depending on makeup of stones, a specialized diet may be prescribed to increase thirst (dilute the urine) or bring the pH of the urine to a normal level. These diets are normally low in protein, phosphorus and magnesium. A proper diet can result in stone dissolution within 2-12 weeks, in some situations.

Urohydropropulsion

When the risk of urinary tract obstruction is high (or the pet is already obstructed), and the stones are relatively small, urohydropropulsion may be performed. Under general anesthesia or heavy sedation, a urinary catheter is passed through the urethra and the stones are flushed out with a sterile saline solution.

Surgery

When the risk of urinary tract obstruction is high (or the pet is already obstructed), and the stones are too large for urohydropropulsion, surgery may be required. Surgery may also be necessary if dietary changes are not resolving the stones. Surgery may involve removing a kidney or cleaning stones from the bladder and flushing the bladder and urethra.

ESWL

Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy has the advantage of removing stones without invasive surgery. High-energy sound waves break up the stones into small enough pieces to be flushed from the urinary tract.

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Worried about the cost of Kidney Stones treatment?

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Recovery of Kidney Stones in Dogs

Follow up appointments for urinalysis and/or abdominal x-rays should be done every 4-6 weeks after treatment initiation to ensure stones are dissolving and new ones are not forming. Pets with recurrent kidney stone issues may need to be examined by x-ray or urinalysis every 3-6 months long-term.

A therapeutic diet may need to be fed for life depending on the stone type and predisposition to urinary tract infections and stone formation. Some urinary diets are not advised for long term use because they are not complete diets. There are other urinary maintenance diets that the pet will need to transition to once the stones are dissolved. Dietary changes are normally very effective in treating genetic predisposition to kidney stones.

Kidney stones tend to recur. Routine monitoring for symptoms of urinary tract infection and kidney stones is essential. Always treat urinary tract infections as soon as you notice symptoms.

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Kidney Stones Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $800 - $7,500

Average Cost

$3,500

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Kidney Stones Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Shadow

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Shitzu

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14 Years

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1 found helpful

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1 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Drinks A Lot. Pees A Lot.

My dog had surgery to remove kidney stones last May. This year the doctor saw 2 stones in his bladder again. His blood work is good and there is no blockage. We just changed his diet as per the vet's instructions, but she is leaning towards surgery again to remove these 2 stones. I am concerned about another surgery at his age and was wondering if I can closely monitor this instead with x-rays, etc.?

Jan. 18, 2018

Shadow's Owner


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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. Whether Shadow needs surgery or not depends on the type of stones that were previously removed. It would be best to ask your veterinarian whether surgery or diet will be appropriate for him, as they know what type of stones he had, the details of his lab work, and his physical status at this time. I hope that he is okay.

Jan. 19, 2018

My yorkie was diagnosed with a Struvite stone in the kidney. We tried C/D and W/D and antibiotics. Today's x-ray showed the stone is getting larger. I am told surgery, if possible, is risky and extremely expensive. Trying to research other options. Any other diet suggestions?

Feb. 13, 2018

Diane P.


Thank you for your help!

Jan. 19, 2018

Shadow's Owner


How long does it typically take a kidney stone to form?

Feb. 27, 2018

Stephanie B.

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Aggie

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Beagle

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16 Years

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0 found helpful

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0 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Blood In Urine

My 16 year old beagle has some incontinence issues so we keep pee pads on the floor for her. I came home yesterday to see them full of bloody urine. She also vomited. Today the pee pads show fairly clear urine but some have small blobs of blood, or bloody tissue. She vomited again today. She has been eating and drinking normally. She is deaf, going blind and appears to have some dementia and weakening muscles. We would likely choose not to treat anything serious at her age. Is it possible this is minor?

Dec. 2, 2017

Aggie's Owner

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0 Recommendations

There are a few different causes for blood in the urine which may include infections, urinary stones, bladder cancer (transitional cell carcinoma), trauma, reproductive tract bleed (especially if she is intact), poisoning among other issues; you should speak with your Veterinarian for an examination just to determine what the specific cause is so that any care whether it is curative or palliative can be directed appropriately. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Dec. 3, 2017

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Kidney Stones Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $800 - $7,500

Average Cost

$3,500

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