Posted on November 25, 2015: Bladder stones are hard chunks of minerals in the bladder. These minerals include calcium, phosphorous, ammonia, magnesium and carbonates.
How is it caused?
“Generally excess minerals in the diet and less water intake, leads to stones. Second, sometimes a dog is kept indoors for long periods. The dog will not urinate in the house. So, he will withhold the urination, which in turn will lead to the formation of stones. Sometimes, it is because of a faulty diet as well,” says Dr. Dhananjay Govind Dighe, a practising veterinarian from Vasai.
Bladder stones form when the urine gets oversaturated with urine crystals. When the kidney excretes excess crystals, the water absorption by kidneys is more and there is a change in the PH balance of the urine; all of this gives rise to crystal formation. Dehydration may also be a conducive factor for stone formation. Some dogs and cats are more genetically pre-disposed to having bladder stones. Bacterial infection may be yet another cause.
“Dalmatians are prone for urate crystals,” Dr.Dighe informs. Other dog breeds which are in the greater risk of this disease are Bichon Frise, Miniature Schnauzer, Cocker Spaniel, English bulldogs, Yorkshire terriers and Shih Tzu. As far as cats are concerned; Himalayan, Persian and Burmese cats have a heightened risk of developing certain kinds of stones.
“The symptoms are that they don’t pass urine, despite the bladder being full. Or they’ll pass urine partially or drop by drop. There will be a lot of pain involved and blood in the urine,” explains Dr Dighe.
Some dogs may lick their genitals excessively. You may see them straining while passing urine. These symptoms may be mistaken by the pet parent as constipation. When the urethra is blocked by stones, it may lead to vomiting. The over-stretched bladder may even burst.
Some dogs and cats may hardly show any symptoms. The stones may be detected during a routine physical exam or when an abdominal x-ray is taken. A blood test which shows elevated creatinine and urea and ionic imbalance may be indicative of bladder stones.
“The dog should be frequently taken out for urination. The pet should drink plenty of water. A balanced diet is recommended. Excess of minerals need to be avoided. For instance, I have seen certain pet parents give their pets too many calcium tablets, up to ten per day,” says Dr.Dighe. Medicines, such as Sulfa medications, Lasix, or those with Tetracycline and Cortisone, that play with the pH of the urine may cause stone formation.
Diet which is high in phosphorous, magnesium and ammonia should be avoided. Urinary infections if prevented may thwart the formation of stones. Some think that low protein diets can prevent stone formation, but that is not necessarily true. If there are no stones, a low protein diet is best avoided, as the nutrient is essential for a dog.
Probiotics, cranberry capsules and vitamin C may prevent urinary tract infections. A well-hydrated dog or cat has lesser chances of developing bladder stones. If your pet doesn’t want to drink water, add permissible flavours to water to enhance the taste and increase the servings of broths.
“If your dog is suffering from bladder stones, they generally need to be surgically removed. There are certain medications which dissolve stones. These medicines are however not easily available in India. Certain homeopathic medicines sometimes dissolve stones,” says Dr.Dighe.
The vet will prescribe a nutritious balanced diet to prevent the recurrence of stones. If indeed a dog is put on a low protein diet to melt stones, it shouldn’t continue for a period of more than five to six months. The doctor will also recommend that the pet’s water intake is increased.