Molly, pictured above, was having some problems, including pain and bloody urine. The 9 year old Lhasa Apso had developed 2 bladder stones! One of the stones had a concave shape on one side, having grown over the other. Dr. Coudrai was able to successfully remove the stones.
How Bladder Stones are Formed
Bladder stones form from minerals dissolved in urine that precipitate out. Over time, more and more precipitated minerals collect on the surface of the stone and it grows. Some of the factors that may contribute to the risk of urinary stones are the pH of the urine (whether acidic or basic), the concentration of the dissolved minerals due to diet, how much water the pet drinks, any present bacterial infections, and possibly even the genetics of the dog.
Bladder Stone Treatment
Bladder stone treatment can vary depending on the location and size of the stones. In many cases, such as Molly’s, the stones need to be removed surgically. The procedure is called a cystotomy. The surgeon makes an incision in the abdomen, exposing the bladder. The bladder is opened, the stones removed, urine collected for analysis, and finally the bladder is flushed with a sterile saline solution to remove any remaining residue in the bladder.
In cases where the stones are very small, another option is available: urohydropropulsion. In this technique, a urinary catheter is placed in an anesthetized patient, and a saline solution fills the bladder. Then the bladder is manually compressed to wash out the solution, taking the stones with it. This requires that the stones be small, as a urethra obstruction can be life threatening.
Since bladder infections can lead to stones, antibiotics may be used to kill harmful bacteria that create the environment in which stones grow. Those conditions can also be influenced by the dog’s diet, which may need to change to prevent future bladder stones. Specialty diets can be used temporarily to increase the acidity of the urine and lower the amount of certain minerals in the diet while treating bladder stones.