Image Credit - Wikimedia.org/
Some of the most striking X-rays you will ever get to see are the ones that reveal the presence of large stones in your dog’s bladder. Till you see one of these X-rays, you might just find your dog a little off-putting. This is not unreasonable, considering the fact that your dog tends to have a lot of accidents in the house and needs to go outside to relieve himself on an hourly basis. However, after you see the X-ray, most of you will just be shocked that your dog was not acting sicker than he did.What are the tell-tale signs that you need to look out for?
Bladder stones, by their very nature, tend to start out small and can grow in size and number with time. Dogs that have bladder stones typically have one or more of the following symptoms:
- Urinary accidents
- Straining to discharge urine
- Frequent attempts to urinate without producing the desired result
- Discolored urine
- Licking the urinary opening
These signs are also symptomatic of a host of other diseases that tend to affect the urinary tract (tumors or infections, for instance). You need to take your pet to the vet if you notice any of the above symptoms. He will confirm the bladder stones with an ultrasound or an X-ray.How are they formed and how can they be treated?
Usually, bladder stones are a collection of minerals and a bunch of other materials. Most of them are made of struvite, urate, calcium oxalate or cysteine crystals. In a lot of the cases, it is possible to see the specific type of crystal causing the problem by examining the urine sample under a microscope.If struvite stones are the diagnosis, your vet will treat the underlying cause (for example, antibiotics for a urinary tract infection) and might recommend a specially formulated therapeutic diet such as the Hill's Prescription Diet u/d Urinary Care Canned Dog Food that will aid in dissolving the crystals and stones. You will have to give your dog the antibiotics along with the therapeutic dog food and possibly even longer if needed. Surgery and other procedures like lithotripsy (using ultrasonic waves to break up the stones) might be necessary to get the stones out of the bladder. The diet needed for dissolving the struvite stones must be given under the supervision of the vet. Most of them are formulated with the intention of making the urine more acidic so that the stones can be easily broken down. If the acidification is taken far, it can result in the formation of calcium oxalate stones.What’s the best way to prevent them?
Once the stones have dissolved, diet plays a major role in preventing their recurrence. Pet food manufacturers have specially formulated foods that are meant to deter the formation of calcium oxalate, struvite, cystine and urate crystals. You also need to make sure that your pet gets adequate amounts of water as it is much less likely for the crystals to form in dilute urine.