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The concretions that comprise urinary stones in horses are named based upon the location of the stone. When located in the bladder, they are referred to as cystoliths, when found in the kidney, they’re referred to as nephroliths, in the ureter they’re called ureteroliths and when found in the urethra they’re urethroliths. The presence of these stones can cause urinary problems for the animal which can lead to urinary tract infections as well as urinary flow obstructions, which can ultimately lead to kidney failure and death if not treated.
Bladder stones in horses are defined as a concretion of minerals. These concretions are mainly made of calcium in horses while they may also be made of magnesium ammonium phosphate and called struvite in other species.
The symptoms for bladder stones that you will likely notice in your horse can be similar to those you may notice when you experience bladder or kidney stones. The symptoms are:
Scalding around the urethra (the area that lies between the vulva and anus in females and inside the hind legs of males) - this is caused by of the uric acid burning the skin with contact over time
Urinary stones are usually called by the minerals of which they are made along with the location of the stone (bladder, kidney, ureter, urethra). They are also referred to as uroliths and calculi and they are formed by minerals which are naturally contained in the urine by clumping together, forming crystals and growing in size as more minerals attach.
There doesn’t appear to be a distinct cause of bladder stones in horses, but many veterinary professionals feel that feeding and watering horses with water and foods high in mineral content may be a factor. Additional causes are:
Your veterinarian will start the diagnostic process for bladder stones by using a transrectal assessment of the bladder (examination of bladder through the rectum). Ultrasound and endoscopy can also be used to assess the size, number and location of the stones. Your veterinarian may also utilize cystoscopy to locate any stones that are suspected to be in the urethra. This method will also be useful in determining if the urine is moving freely from both kidneys to the bladder or if there is a blockage or other obstruction. It can also help to ascertain if there is any underlying kidney disease or even stones in the kidney itself. An analysis of the urine may also be done to obtain additional information.
The treatment most frequently utilized by veterinarians for bladder stones in horses is surgical removal. While there are several types of surgical options available, your veterinary caregiver will make his recommendation based upon the size of the stones, number of stones, and the location of the stones. Also, the gender of the animal will have an influence on the type of surgical recommendation made by your veterinarian, especially in males.
These options are considered by your veterinary professional and he will give you his educated opinion as to the best one for your animal. The goal is to remove the offending stones in order to reduce the inflammation being caused and to prevent the possibility of a total blockage of the urine flow, a situation which can be life-threatening to any species.
As the owner, you will likely receive several recommendations from your veterinary professional, one of which will be to dilute the urine by encouraging your horse to drink lots of water. Here are some suggestions for accomplishing that goal:
Another suggestion for prevention is to use less drugs such as NSAIDs as these drug types can damage kidney function in your horse.The veterinary team may recommend dietary changes that may include the removal of legume hays, like alfalfa, from the diet. These types of legume hays are higher in calcium, and calcium is one of the minerals commonly found in the makeup of bladder stones in horses. You also might try to feed your horse vitamin C and ammonium chloride as these have been found to be used successfully as a preventative for bladder stones. Additionally, it has been found that the use of a dairy cattle feed supplement has also been effective.
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Bladder Stones Average Cost
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