Canine stones somewhere in the urinary tract are typically diagnosed based upon the dog’s history as told by the owner, a complete physical examination, a urinalysis and abdominal radiographs (x-rays). Urine culture and sensitivity are useful where bacterial infection is suspected. Abdominal ultrasonography can also be helpful in arriving at a diagnosis. Another diagnostic tool available to veterinarians, especially in male dogs suspected of having a urinary blockage, is attempted passage of a urinary catheter through the urethra. In cases of partial or complete obstruction caused by a stone, there will be obvious resistance, which some authorities have described as having a “gritty” feeling. Advanced tests that can usually confirm the diagnosis also include retrograde positive contrast-enhanced urethrography, double-contrast-enhanced cystography and cycstoscopy (use of a scope to visualize and sample stones in the bladder). The attending veterinarian can discuss these specialized procedures in more detail and may refer the owner to an internal medicine specialist, if these advanced tests are unavailable in the local clinic.
In most cases, advanced diagnostic procedures are not done until the dog shows symptoms that suggest urinary tract blockage or a urinary tract infection. If your dog exhibits these signs, please take her to your veterinarian as soon as possible.