The Risks of Gallstones in Dogs If your dog is losing weight rapidly, it could be gallstones

The Risks of Gallstones in Dogs

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Gallstones are a major cause of weight loss in pets. It is important to watch for the symptoms before they become severe.

If you ever see your dog suddenly losing weight, it could be a sign of gallstones. This condition can be fatal if left untreated, so it's important to watch your pet for any warning signs. Gallstones are hard, pebble-like formations that develop in the gallbladder and can cause abdominal pain. The pain is usually in the same area where the gallbladder is located, around the liver. But it can also be felt in other areas of the abdomen or your pet's back.

The intensity of this pain varies from mild to severe and may be sudden or gradual in onset. It may be constant or intermittent, sharp or dull. 

Gallstones Can Be Fatal

Gallbladder disease in dogs can cause anorexia and severe weight loss. This is because the gallbladder is responsible for storing bile, which helps to break down fats. Bile isn't being released properly or effectively when the condition is present, so your dog's digestion becomes impaired. Up to 50% of animals have a ruptured gallbladder mucocele by the time it is diagnosed. Nearly 16.7% of dogs die within 14 days of cholecystectomy. A quick response can significantly lower this risk.

The symptoms of gallbladder disease include:

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea (sometimes bloody)

  • Abdominal pain and tenderness around the belly area that may be mistaken for other causes such as pancreatitis or appendicitis

Unlike humans, dogs can’t tell us when they are in pain or feeling unwell, so often, we see the signs when it's too late for treatment. 

Gallstones can be treated with surgery, but this isn't always necessary and depends on the severity of the condition. In most cases, though, pet medication like Ursodiol for dogs can help alone, and antibiotics for dogs are effective in treating the most-operative infections n dogs. At the same time, they wait until surgery becomes an option should things get worse over time.

So, What Causes Gallstones?

Gallstones don’t just happen overnight. They are a result of a long-term, unhealthy diet and lifestyle. Dogs with poor diets or eating a lot of fatty foods are more likely to develop gallstones than those with balanced meals with a lot of fiber available in canned dog food. You can help your dog avoid this by ensuring they get plenty of fresh vegetables daily. It’s also important to ensure your pup is getting enough exercise since stress hormones can also increase their likelihood of developing gallstones.

You need to feed your dog a healthy diet like Hill's prescription diet.

  • Ensure you’re feeding your dog enough fat (but not too much). The proper amount of fat is important for a healthy diet, especially for overweight dogs. A deficiency of fat will cause an increase in cholesterol synthesis and an increase in the bile cholesterol saturation index, which can lead to gallstones.

  • Make sure you’re giving your dog enough protein. Protein helps maintain muscle mass and keep your dog healthy. You can find protein-rich food with Hill Science dog food. 

Gallstones are stones that form in the gallbladder, an organ near the liver. The gallbladder stores bile, which is secreted by the liver to help break down fat and digest food. Gallstones are common in dogs and are usually not serious. However, they can be painful and lead to other health problems if left untreated.

If your dog has lost weight suddenly and/or had diarrhea or vomiting, you should see a veterinarian immediately to determine whether your pet may have developed gallstones. Your vet will perform a physical exam on your dog, including listening to its heart with a stethoscope. Blood tests will also be performed to look for any signs of infection or other problems that may be causing your pet's symptoms and prescribe pet medication.

For treatment for gallstones in dogs to begin, we must first identify the type of stone that has formed inside your pet's body: cholesterol stones or pigment stones. Once diagnosed, the veterinarians will discuss which treatment option and pet meds would best suit your pet's needs based on their age, current health condition, and any history with similar conditions. 

Even Genetics Can Play A Role In Gallbladder Disease

Even genetics can play a role in gallbladder disease. Breeds with a genetic predisposition to gallstones include:

Tissue Can Die Within The Gallbladder Due To The Inflammation Blocking Blood Flow.

But if that pain becomes very severe, it could even mean tissue has died within the gallbladder due to the inflammation blocking blood flow. This is known as necrosis; symptoms include jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), vomiting, and rapid weight loss.

If you’re concerned, your pet may be suffering from gallstones or a related condition like cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder). Laparoscopic cholecystectomy was successfully completed in 93% of the dogs. Make sure you get in touch with your veterinarian right away so they can help diagnose what’s going on and offer treatment options for your dog with the right pet medications.

These Symptoms Include Jaundice, Vomiting, And Rapid Weight Loss.

This condition can result in jaundice, vomiting, and an increase or decrease in appetite. If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, contact a veterinarian immediately. They may prescribe Ursodiol for dogs or Cephalexin for dogs. You can look for these pet meds online. Some dogs will have no symptoms at all, they might just not eat as much as usual.


Gallstones can happen for a variety of reasons. Your dog's diet, especially a lack of fiber, or food without sufficient fat and protein, can contribute to it by feeding your dog Hills prescription diet for a healthier dog. Being overweight or obese can also increase the amount of cholesterol in their bile and result in gallstones. Even genetics can play a role in gallbladder disease. 

Breeds such as the Yorkshire Terrier tend to have more genetic predispositions to gallstones than others. If that pain becomes very severe, it could even mean tissue has died within the gallbladder due to the inflammation blocking blood flow. If your dog is losing weight, make sure you take it to the vet before it gets much more severe.

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