You are what you eat! You've probably heard that saying a time or two, but it does have some merit. What we put into our bodies affects each of our organs directly. The same is true for dogs. Our canine pals have quite delicate acidity levels throughout their digestive tracts. Unfortunately, the standard seems to be giving them the exact same food day in and day out. Over time, this can result in the formation of crystals in the bladder. Chronic bladder infections can also create these nasty stones.
These crystals are super sharp and grow over time. Eventually, they start to make their way out of the bladder through the urinary system. This can cause all kinds of trouble for your pooch, including pain and even bursting organs in extreme cases. It's worth the effort to prevent bladder stones before they become a problem.
Causes and Prevention of Bladder Stones
Bladder stones can form for a variety of reasons. Some of them are easier to catch ahead of time than others. Knowing what can happen will help you better plan how to avoid these common precursors of bladder stones. Below are some of the main causes to look out for.
Bacteria can creep up your dog's urethra and cause all kinds of trouble. If it sets up shop in your pup's bladder, it can change the whole environment in there. Some bacteria release enzymes that make the bladder produce too much ammonia. This irritates the bladder and causes it to turn alkaline, the perfect factory for stone formation! So what can you do to stop this vicious cycle? One thing that can help is early identification of bladder infections. Knowing the symptoms to watch for can help you catch the illness before stones ever form. If your four-legged friend is making extra trips outside, they may be feeling the urge to pee even when no urine is present, a tell-tale sign of a bladder infection. You may even notice a bit of blood in their urine if the infection is getting serious. Don't wait, get your fur-baby to the vet pronto if you suspect an infection! A course of antibiotics early on can restore your dog's bladder to its ideal pH levels before crystals ever develop. It's also important to note that this type of infection is way more common in female pooches. If the infection is caught a bit later in the game, your vet may also recommend that you put your dog on a special diet made to dissolve small formations before they fully turn to big stones (and even bigger problems!)
Sometimes dogs will develop stones when eating a diet that is too high in carbohydrates. Many bagged dog foods use filler carbs like grains to make their product last longer and look bigger. The problem with this is that excessive grains are not really a natural part of a canine's supper. After a long time of eating them, these carbs will mess with your pup's acid levels and bladder stones may form. To stop this from happening, some vets recommend special food that is low in protein, phosphorus and magnesium. However, it seems like a diet based on meats may be the best option to prevent problems. Dogs bodies are made for meat, and this natural protein keeps urine acidic. Most stones will not grow in an acidic environment, saving your pup a lot of pain! Another main way to prevent these stones from taking shape is to encourage your dog to drink lots of water. Hydration is super effective for flushing out small crystals from a canine's bladder.
Genetics play a part when it comes to the chances your pupper will get bladder stones during their life. Certain breeds are more susceptible to bladder problems than others. The mini breeds seem to grow pee pebbles more than their larger cousins. Yorkies, Shih Tzus and Bichon Frisés are all on the list of the breeds most often affected. If you're looking to stay away from bladder stones, you could choose a breed less prone to the problem, but that is a little extreme. Many teeny-tiny dogs live long, happy lives if their owners stay on top of things. Learn to look for early symptoms and alert your vet to the possibility of bladder problems. It is also advantageous to feed your pooch a high quality diet made of canine-friendly items that at least mimic what a dog would eat in the wild. This is sometimes overlooked in the small breeds, but raw diets work just as well in the wee barkers.
Importance of Prevention
A stitch in time saves nine! While it may be a bit of extra work in the now, future-you will be glad that you put in the time to keep your fur-baby healthier in the long haul. Bladder stones cause so much pain in the unlucky pups that suffer from them. No dog owner wants to see their barky buddy hurting! And if stones get big enough, they can eventually dislodge and block the exit of the bladder. This is a life-threatening, medical emergency that at the very least will require surgery and a big, fat bill. At the worst, bladder stones do have the capability of taking your dog's life. How much better it is to address them before a problem ever develops?!
An Issue Worth Avoiding
So, you know now what a bladder stone is, how it comes to be and what you can do about it. If you're a small-breed owner, there's a bigger chance that you'll have to deal with them. Long-lasting UTIs can definitely cause stones to form, and should be treated as soon as possible. Diet also plays a major role, so stick with food that is great quality and fit for the canine species. Bladder stones are generally treatable, but can lead to unneeded suffering on your pooch's part. Why not take action now so they never become an issue?