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Urinary stones in dogs: causes, symptoms and treatment

Urinary stones in dogs are quite common and painful because the urinary system is blocked by small stones. In any case, one should not neglect this pathology, to which some dog breeds are more predisposed than others. But any dog is likely to suffer from urinary stones one day. If left untreated, the consequences on the animal's health can be serious. Let's take a look at what causes urolithiasis, what are the symptoms that indicate the presence of these small stones in the urinary tract of your dog and what treatment is possible.

Urinary stones in dogs: the main causes

A urinary stone is a pebble that forms in the urinary system. It is caused by a change in the hydrogen potential (pH) of the urine, which leads to the accumulation of small crystals. These crystals agglomerate into stones that can reside in the bladder and block it, but also in the ureter, in the urethra and even in the kidneys.

There are different causes of urinary stones:
  • Too much urine concentration, which is why it is important to ensure that the dog drinks enough and that his diet is balanced so that he urinates enough,
  • A diet rich in acidifying foods that promote the formation of stones, which is particularly the case with offal,
  • Certain renal anomalies,
  • A bacterial infection in the bladder,
  • A tumor of the parathyroid gland, whose role (among others) is to regulate the level of phosphorus and calcium in the blood.
It should be noted that diet is a factor that should not be neglected because if it is unbalanced, it can lead to the formation of various stones such as struvites, calcium oxalates, cystines and ammonium urates.

Urinary stones can affect all dogs, young and old, and all breeds, but it is important to know that some breeds are more genetically predisposed to them, such as the Dalmatian, the Dachshund, the Golden Retriever, the German Shepherd, the Poodle, the Yorkshire, the Bichon Frisé, the Australian Shepherd or the French Bulldog...

Urinary calculi: symptoms that should alert you

We can suspect the presence of a urinary lithiasis when the dog presents the following symptoms
  • Difficulties to urinate,
  • Blood in the urine,
  • Pain during urination,
  • Uncleanliness because the dog can no longer hold its urine.
It is not necessary to wait to consult.

Treatment of urinary stones in dogs

It is essential to take your dog to the veterinarian as soon as you suspect the presence of urinary stones, because they can cause chronic cystitis. Even more seriously, urolithiasis leads to kidney failure if the dog is not treated.

In order to implement the necessary treatment protocol - including, of course, an appropriate diet - the chemical composition of the urinary stone must be analyzed to identify the cause. This is also fundamental to prevent recurrence. The palpation of the bladder is complemented by a battery of essential additional tests and examinations, such as a urine analysis, a blood test, an X-ray or an ultrasound of the urinary system.

Treatment is decided on a case-by-case basis. It can be based on :
  • The placement of a catheter associated with a specific diet, allowing the dissolution of the stones. This is the solution that is generally chosen in cases of struvite stones.
  • A cystotomy, which is a surgical procedure consisting of cleaning the bladder after emptying it. This solution is essential if the dog has calcium oxalate stones because they do not reabsorb by themselves.
  • Resting the dog.
Regardless of the cause of the stones, it is important to ensure that the dog drinks enough. It is also recommended to limit dry food such as kibble and to prefer wet food (e.g. mash). However, it is possible to give your pet medical kibble that regulates the pH of the bladder. This will limit the risk of crystals forming.

It is better not to decide without medical advice to change your dog's diet by replacing one food with another or by giving it a mineral supplement, for example, because this is detrimental to the animal. The veterinarian must evaluate the dog's dietary needs since they depend on the dog's lifestyle, age, health, weight and breed.