By Dr. Gerald Bellin, DVM
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC
Does your pet drink more water or have to pee more frequently? How about difficulty or straining to urinate, bloody urine, or more accidents in the house. These symptoms may not be due to the assumed urinary tract infection. Both dogs and cats can develop stones in the urinary bladder called uroliths. Those breeds of dogs felt to have an increased risk for the formation of stones are: the miniature schnauzer, Shih tzu, Yorkshire terrier, Lhasa apsos, miniature poodles, Bichon frise, and Labrador retrievers.
There are three main types of stones but the two more commonly diagnosed are struvite and calcium oxalate bladder stones, based on their mineral makeup. These stones are similar to the kidney stones that people get, however pets will usually form them in the bladder. Once they start to form in the urinary bladder, they cause irritation to the bladder wall. This irritation results in the clinical signs mentioned earlier.
Sometimes you may see these stones passed in your pet’s urine. If that is the case, x-rays should be taken to search for more stones. Also, a sample stone should be analyzed to determine the stone type since patient care is highly dependent on the stones mineral composition.
Struvite stones in dogs are almost always formed due to changes in the urine that occur during bladder infections. So the primary mode of prevention is to prevent and control bladder infections. Then, the secondary form of prevention is dietary therapy. Therapeutic diets may be used to dissolve away the stones slowly.
Calcium oxalate stones tend to show a a strong hereditary component to their formation. There are also some metabolic diseases that can affect calcium levels to be elevated, making them more susceptible to forming calcium oxalate stones. These stones are not treated by diet like struvite are and must be surgically removed.
Calcium oxalate stones must be therapeutically treated to minimize their formation. The first and most important step of therapy is dietary. Diets will reduce calcium and oxalates in the body, and maintain a urine pH that will not allow for calcium oxalate crystals and stones to form. This will entail using a special prescription diet since there are no acceptable over-the-counter diets.
If your pet has a history of stone formation, they are at risk of recurrence even if they are on a preventive treatment regimen. Follow up for your pets should include frequent urine testing and cultures along with radiographs to catch recurrence before becoming problematic.
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Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC is located at 210 Airpark Road in Marshfield and online at wildwoodanimalhospital.net.