Bladder Stones

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Willunga Vet Services
37 Main Rd
SA 5172

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8556 2075
8556 2654

Aldinga Vet Services
16 Heathersay Ave
Aldinga Beach
SA 5173

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8556 5498


Bailey presented to the clinic as she was having issues urinating properly on and off for 3 weeks. But being true to the Labrador in her- no issues with her appetite! . On examination Bailey’s bladder felt abnormal – like it contained a handful of sand. A urine sample was taken and assessed under a microscope that revealed some bacteria present in the urine but no crystals. For diagnosis of the problem imaging was required (ultrasound and/or x-rays are required).

Bailey was booked in the following day for x-rays and a bladder ultrasound. The bladder stones are not always visualised on radiographs because some stones are radiolucent (meaning their mineral composition is such that they do not reflect the x-ray beam). The x-rays revealed 2 large stones in the bladder! This definitely would have been uncomfortable.

X-ray showing the bladder stones in Bailey.

Bladder stones can form in dogs just like they do in humans. They may occur as a collection of multiple small stones or as a few large stones. Some patients with bladder stones show no signs of any kind and the stones are discovered incidentally or owners noticed one or a collection of the following:

∗ Bloody urine

∗ Straining to urinate

∗ Increase in the frequency of urination

∗ In rare cases partial or complete obstruction of the urinary tract can occur (this is potentially life threatening)


These clinical signs result from the stones causing irritation and damage to the bladder lining causing bleeding, pain and swelling.

There are multiple factors involved in the formation of bladder stones in dogs. Female dogs are more likely to get bladder infections and stones more frequently than males, due to shorter, wider urethra, which makes it easier for bacteria to pass up the urethra into the bladder.

∗ Increased levels of minerals (calcium, magnesium and phosphate) within the urine which results in formation of the crystals

∗ Alkaline or acidic urine pH (aim for neutral pH)

∗ Bacterial infections (these can alter the pH of the urine and encourage crystal formation)

∗ Abnormal metabolism of various minerals, certain breeds are predisposed (Dalmatians are prone to urate crystals)

Following the imaging and the size of the bladder stones- surgery was the only option for removal! Some crystals/stones can be attempted to be dissolved with a special diet, however this is not successful for all types of stones, it is a slow process and not all dogs will eat the special prescription food. The surgery involved surgically opening the bladder through an abdominal incision and removing the stones. Following the surgery most dogs recovery quickly with rapid improvement in clinical signs. Bailey was back eating within hours of the surgery and at last urinating properly (continuous steady stream)– she definitely looked like she was smiling following removal of the stones. The stones were sent off to American for analysis- this is a free service offered by Hills.

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