When a dog is having symptoms of a urinary tract infection it may not always appear to be a serious concern. There are many causes for a urinary tract infection including bacteria, but when an infection is not detected in laboratory testing the cause for symptoms may be due to bladder stones. These two diagnoses can also occur at the same time.
Stones form from crystals in the urine that occur due to a pH imbalance in the bladder due to infection or a metabolic imbalance. These crystals can form into stones. Just like the name suggests these are a formation of minerals that produce rock-like structures that can vary in size, composition, and quantity.
It is important to diagnose stones as soon as possible because they can obstruct the urethra and make urination difficult or impossible if fully obstructed. Males are more prone to obstruction due to their narrower urethra structure.
Symptoms to be aware of include:
- Frequent urination.
- Breaking housetraining.
- Blood in the urine.
- Dribbling urine.
- Crying out while urinating.
- Straining to urinate.
- Frequently or obsessively licking the genital area.
- Visible stones or pebbles in urine.
- Decreased appetite
- Increased water consumption
It is important to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible if you notice any of these symptoms so proper treatment can begin. A veterinary can run laboratory tests to look at the urine to determine the cause. They will also palpate the abdomen to see if they can feel obvious stones in the bladder. They may also request an abdominal x-ray to see if any stones are detected in the bladder. Digital x-ray makes detection simple and very quick. We have x-ray results instantaneously on our monitor after the image is captured.
Smaller stones can sometimes be dissolved with a prescription diet obtained through the veterinarian, but larger stones require surgical removal.