Have you been noticing your dog behaving differently; perhaps urinating more often, an uncontrollable dribble of urine, blood in the urine, pain during urination a change in attitude, or maybe something more? If so, your four legged canine companion could be suffering with a bladder stone/stones.
Stones form when urine minerals such as calcium and magnesium bind together to form tiny crystals. While medical science does not fully understand why dog bladder stones form, they do understand what the general makeup is. There are many different types of stones, each formed from a complex mixture of minerals.
While the exact cause has eluded researches so far they can be caused by an overabundance of the minerals themselves, high uric acid levels, a stretched or distended bladder, genetic predisposition, by a problem with other chemicals that exist in the urine and which, under normal conditions, prevent stones from forming, or by infection or irritation of the bladder.
Identifying the problem
Your veterinarian will first ask you a number of questions about symptoms and behavior, as he/she performs an abdominal palpitation of the bladder and urinary tract, hoping to locate the dog bladder stone. If this is inconclusive, or if more confirmation is needed an x-ray, urine test or culture, or an ultrasonography might be called for, especially if there is a suspicion of multiple stones in the urinary tract.
The treatment of dog bladder stones will depend on their size and the size of your canine. In most cases this condition can be treated effectively through a special diet low in minerals which includes a special dissolving agent. Once ingested the dissolving agent should liquefy the mineral formations causing them to pass harmlessly out of the system. But sometimes the dog bladder stones are simply to big or too stubborn or maybe both. In these cases the seven letter word that no one wants to hear will be the next step; surgery.
Once the urolith has been removed your vet will likely want to know their composition. The information gained will help in formulating a prevention plan, possibly including medications. Dogs undergoing treatment will need to be monitored regularly.
Water: Flush the bladder by encouraging your canine to drink plenty of fresh water. Also, make sure that your dog has access to a place to relieve this extra fluid.
Diet: Pay special attention to the ingredient in your pet's food, especially calcium and magnesium. Also, check your local pet food store for foods specially formulated to avoid bladder or kidney stone formation. Your vet may have a good suggestion in this area.
Uric acid levels: Uric acid levels are a causative factor in the formation of calcium oxalate stones. Certain ingredient in dog foods can elevate the risk. Examples: organ meats, fish, and shellfish.
Cranberry juice: I'm sure your dog is thinking "I just can't wait for my big glass of cranberry juice", or maybe not. Cranberry juice has been shown to reduce the amount of ionized calcium in the urine by over 50% in pets with problems with chronic bladder stones.
Homeopathic supplementation: Look for a homeopathic remedy for preventing and treating dog bladder stones that contains cantharis and uva ursi. Cantharis maintains a healthy urine flow and soothes the bladder while uva ursi maintains normal pH levels of the urinary tract and is known as a urinary tonic.
In summary, the best defense against this condition is prevention with the second being early recognition. If a problem is suspected swift action could be the difference in a minor bump in the road or a major ordeal.