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Bladder Stones in Dogs

Bladder stones are rather common in dogs and can cause painful urination. The most common type of stones found in dogs are struvites. Read on and find out more about the differen types of canine bladder stones, their possible causes, symptoms, and treatment.


Dogs seldom have kidney stones; however, bladder stones are common. In most cases, the stones are in the bladder, but sometimes some of the stones may pass into the urethra. If a stone is large enough, it can cause a blockage which is extremely serious and requires immediate veterinary attention.

Dog bladder stones vary in sizes and number. All dogs can develop bladder stones but some breeds are more prone to this condition. These breeds include the Bulldogs, Dachshunds, Dalmatians, Miniature Schnauzers, and Shih Tsu's.

There are different types of bladder stones in dogs. They include:
  • Struvites: Struvites are the most common type of bladder stones in dogs. They are composed of magnesium ammonium phosphate. These stones form in an alkaline urine and usually are the result of a bladder infection which causes the urine pH to raise to neutral or alkaline. Female dogs are more prone to bladder and urinary tract infections; therefore, struvites are more commonly found in female dogs.
  • Calcium Oxalate Stones: These are the second most common canine bladder stones. These stones are seldom the result of bladder infections but are mostly caused by increased levels of calcium in the blood stream. They are formed in dogs that have a hereditary condition whereby they lack a calcium-binding glycoprotein called nephrocalcin which inhibits the growth of calcium oxalate crystals in the urinary tract.
  • Uric Acid Stones: These stones form in an acid urine, and are found almost exclusively in Dalmatians and Bulldogs because their livers cannot absorb uric acid.

Causes of Bladder Stones in Dogs

There are many possible causes of canine bladder stones, such as:
  • Diet: Improper diets can easily cause bladder stones in dogs. For example, a high-protein diet with excess amounts of magnesium, calcium, or phosphorus can lead to stone formation in dogs.
  • Water Intake/Output: Dogs who do not have sufficient water intake or who cannot go out to urinate frequently enough are more susceptible to bladder stone formation.
  • Bladder Infections: Bacterial bladder infections can lead to the formation of struvite bladder stones.
  • Age and Gender: Older dogs tend to be more prone to bladder stone formation; so do female dogs because they are more susceptible to bladder infections.
  • Exposure to Cadmium: It has been found that exposure to cadmium will lead to an increased chance of bladder stone formation. The most common source of cadmium exposure for dogs is cigarette smoke.

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Bladder Stones in Dogs

The typical symptoms of canine bladder stones are frequent, painful urination and blood in the urine.

Dribbling urine indicates that there may be a partial blockage of the urethra.

Diagnosis is made by X-ray or ultrasonography. Stones that are large or numerous can sometimes be palpated through the abdomen.

In addition, a urinalysis will be made.

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Treatment of Bladder Stones in Dogs

The treatment of canine bladder stones depends upon the type, size and number of the stones.

If the bladder stones are formed as a result of a bladder infection, treating the infection first using antibiotics is necessary. These stones (struvite stones) can then be dissolved by feeding the dog a special diet that is low in magnesium and protein.

For uric acid stones, a low-purine diet by Hills (Hills U/d diet) can dissolve the stones together with the drug "Allopurinol". However, the Hills diet is not an appropriate diet for puppies - If a growing puppy has uric acid stones, removal by surgery is probably a better choice.

There are no methods that can be used to dissolve calcium oxate stones. Surgical removal is usually necessary. Thereafter, dietary supplements can be given to the dog to prevent recurrence.

Surgical removal is also necessary for stones that cause urethral obstruction, and for stones that fail to respond to medication and/or dietary change.

Supplements to Prevent Bladder Stones in Dogs

Supplements can be used to prevent bacterial bladder infections and stone formation:

  • Cranberries: Cranberries (also blackberries and raspberries) are effective in preventing cystitis because they help to keep bacteria from adhering to the lining of the bladder and the urethra. They may also help to lower urine pH.

    You can give non-sweetened cranberry juice (about half an ounce for dogs) to your dog, or you can use a cranberry powder product such as Solid Gold Berry Balance for Cats and Dogs.
  • Vitamin C: Vitamin C can acidify the urine which in turn helps to control bacterial infections. Vitamin C also has anti-inflammatory properties and therefore can prevent infections.
  • Cod-liver oil: Cod-liver oil is rich in vitamin A which is essential in keeping the lining of the bladder and urinary tract in good condition. Here is a good natural product of cod-liver oil: Nordic Naturals Pet Cod Liver Oil.
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