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UROLITHIASIS UNLEASHED: TACKLING BLADDER STONES IN DOGS WITH A MULTI-FACETED APPROACH!



As devoted pet owners, it's vital to familiarize ourselves with the two prevalent types of bladder stones that can affect our canine companions: calcium oxalate and struvite. These stones can cause discomfort and potentially lead to serious urinary complications. 
Struvite crystals seen in a urine sediment. They are rectangular and can be described as "coffin shaped".
Struvite crystals seen in a urine sediment. They are rectangular and can be described as "coffin shaped".
Calcium oxalate crystals seen in a urine sediment. These crystals have a more squared shape with a cross in the middle.
Calcium oxalate crystals seen in a urine sediment. These crystals have a more squared shape with a cross in the middle.

Both calcium oxalate and struvite stones can manifest with similar clinical signs, including blood in the urine (hematuria), frequent urination, straining to urinate, and potential urinary tract infections. These signs serve as red flags, indicating the possible presence of bladder stones that require attention and intervention to prevent further complications.

​Accurate diagnosis is paramount for devising an effective treatment plan. Veterinarians employ various diagnostic methods such as a thorough physical exam, urinalysis, radiography, ultrasound, or specialized tests to determine the composition, size, and location of the stones. This information helps veterinarians determine the most appropriate course of action, including whether surgical removal is necessary.
A sample of urine from a dog with blood (hematuria).
A sample of urine from a dog with blood (hematuria).
Urine sediment with a severe amount of bacteria present
Urine sediment with a severe amount of bacteria present

Radiograph of a dog with several large stones in the urinary bladder.
Radiograph of a dog with several large stones in the urinary bladder.
While dietary modifications and medication are often effective in preventing bladder stones, treatment of most stones will require surgical removal. Surgical intervention is recommended for calcium oxalate stones, as they are not medically dissolvable. Larger stones, those causing obstruction or pain, or when conservative measures prove unsuccessful will also result in surgical removal. Procedures like cystotomy (surgical opening of the bladder) or laser lithotripsy (breakdown of stones using laser technology) can be employed to safely and effectively remove the stones.
Uroliths removed surgically.
Uroliths removed surgically.

Royal Canin Urinary SO diet. An example of a food that can medically dissolve struvite crystals and prevent both struvite and calcium oxalate crystals and stones.
Royal Canin Urinary SO diet. An example of a food that can medically dissolve struvite crystals and prevent both struvite and calcium oxalate crystals and stones.
Prevention is key in reducing the likelihood of stone recurrence. For calcium oxalate stones, focus on reducing dietary oxalate, promoting hydration, and regular monitoring. Struvite stone prevention revolves around managing and preventing urinary tract infections through proper hygiene, addressing predisposing factors, and promoting urine acidification. Following preventive measures diligently can minimize the need for surgical intervention in the future.

​By being aware to the clinical signs associated with calcium oxalate and struvite stones, pet owners can take timely action to ensure their pets' urinary health. Consult a veterinarian promptly if any signs of urinary discomfort are observed. Accurate diagnosis, appropriate treatment options, and preventive measures play crucial roles in managing and preventing bladder stones. In certain cases, surgical removal becomes necessary for optimal outcomes. By staying informed, proactive, and maintaining open communication with veterinarians, we can ensure our dogs enjoy a life free from the burden of urolithiasis, and when required, surgical interventions can restore their urinary health effectively.

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