Bladder stones are the accumulation of minerals to form hard objects in the bladder. They may be in different shapes and sizes either floating in the bladder or attached to its wall(s). They usually form in result of oversaturation of the urine with minerals which in turn causes the precipitation of these minerals in the bladder under abnormal PH (acidic vs. Alkaline) of the urine. This process may take weeks to months to complete.
Other uncommon urinary stones may also form in the kidneys. In dogs and cats this form of uroliths are not as much common as bladder stones.
There are a few pre-disposing factors which help and accelerate the formation of the bladder stones. Among the most important ones are chronic diseases of the bladder and urinary tract, nutrition and in result the abnormal PH of the urine, probably the genetic heritage of the animal etc.
The most common signs of bladder stones are:
- Blood in the urine
- Difficulty urinating, straining to eliminate
– Frequent visits to the litter box in cats
In male cats, there is a high potential for the blockage of the urinary tract by these stones which, in later stages, can result in life-threatening changes and is invariably very painful to the patient. Owners will notice that their male cats has not urinated for at least 24 hours, is trying to urinate with no success, is licking his private areas, and screams in pain. Eventually, if not treated, the patient will become unconscious. This condition is an absolute emergency and needs to be treated immediately!
The diagnosis of the bladder stone is quite straight forward. As your veterinarian in Markham, my first approach is to quickly gather important information about the patient from my you. Then I perform a full physical examination. The next step is usually taking x-rays from the abdomen/pelvis. Some stones do not reflect the x-ray beams and could not be detected by x-rays. Gladly, the prevalence of this type of stones is pretty low in dogs and cats. If this is the suspicion for the diagnosis, an ultrasonic examination will show these stones.
The treatment depends on the size and the number of the stones in the bladder. If there are too many and too large stones, the surgical option will be the best choice to remove them and achieve immediate results. If the stones are small and few in number, then a dietary adjustment may provide good results.
The take-home message from this is that urinary discomfort in your cat or dog is usually a significant sign for an important and rather life-threatening condition that needs immediate attention.
Please call us at Unionville South Pet Hospital – 905 604 5 604 should you observe any signs of difficulty or abnormality in the urination habits of your dog or cat.
All the Best,
Dr. Dave Bonab