How Bladder Stones Affect Dogs
Many affected dogs show no outward signs of discomfort from urinary tract crystals or stones. The signs become obvious when the crystals damage the urinary tract lining, or when one or more stones block the ureters or urethra, causing acute and extreme pain and predisposing the dog to bladder rupture, which is a very serious condition.
Symptoms of Bladder Stones
Signs that owners might notice of urinary tract stones include:
- Blood in the dog’s urine (hematuria). This is an early symptom, caused by physical disruption of the bladder lining
- Increased frequency of urination or attempts at urination. When a physical blockage occurs, the symptoms worsen dramatically and rapidly, and the dog will urinate (or try to urinate) much more frequently than usual, although those attempts will not be very productive
- Straining to urinate (this may look like straining to defecate), without much success
- Incomplete voiding (urinary retention)
- Agitation (affected dogs are extremely painful and typically become frantic, developing a pleading, helpless look)
- Repeatedly turning and looking at the abdomen and hindquarters
- Running to and from the normal “pottying” place
- Inappropriate elimination (pottying in unusual or inappropriate areas – in the house, on the bed, etc.)
- Lack of appetite (anorexia; inappetance)
Many of these signs mimic those of other conditions, such as urinary tract infections and bloat (gastric dilatation and volvulus). It is very important to get a dog displaying a number of these symptoms to a veterinarian as quickly as possible, as all of these conditions are very serious.
Dogs at Increased Risk
Stones in the urinary tract are more common in older animals and in males, although they have been reported in dogs of both genders and of all ages. Several breeds are overrepresented in the population of dogs that develop urinary stones, depending on their composition:
- Struvite (magnesium ammonium phosphate): Miniature Schnauzer, Bichon Frise, Cocker Spaniel, Miniature Poodle. A very common canine stone, especially in females and dogs under one year of age. Commonly associated with urinary tract infections.
- Calcium oxalate: Miniature Schnauzer, Miniature Poodle, Yorkshire Terrier, Bichon Frise, Lhasa Apso, Cairn Terrier, Shih Tzu. The most common canine stone. Obesity puts dogs at increased risk.
- Urate: Dalmatian, English Bulldog, Yorkshire Terrier, Miniature Schnauzer. An uncommon canine stone.
- Silicate: Miniature Schnauzer, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Old English Sheepdog, Cocker Spaniel. A very uncommon canine stone.
- Cystine: Dachshund, English Bulldog, Bassett Hound, Yorkshire Terrier, Irish Terrier, Rottweiler, Chihuahua, Tibetan Spaniel, Mastiff, Newfoundland. A very uncommon canine stone.