What is bladder stone removal?
Bladder stones are little stone-like formations made up of minerals that accumulate in your pet’s urinary bladder. Typically made up of minerals struvite or oxalate, bladder stones can be a result of an untreated urinary tract infection, liver disease, or simply genetics. Although they are highly treatable, if left untreated, they can get stuck in your pet’s urethra and be life threatening.
What are symptoms of bladder stones?
Be on the look out for these symptoms:
- Frequent Urination
- Difficulty urinating
- Cloudy urine
- Blood in the urine
- Abdominal pain
- Frequently licking the genitals
Bladder stones can be diagnosed using a few methods. Your vet will first try to palpate the stones through the abdominal wall - this means they will feel around your pet’s belly to try and locate the stones externally. However, this is not the only step! Sometimes they may be too small to feel, or our pet is in too much pain for the doctor to complete initial examination. The vet then typically uses one or more forms of diagnostic imaging tests to properly diagnose - this includes X-rays, ultrasonic bladder imaging, or radiographic contrast imaging.
Once diagnosed, your vet will then map out the next plan of action with you!
When is surgery necessary?
There are a few ways bladder stones can be treated, and your vet will prescribe based on the size of the stones, your pet’s health records, and the urgency of the situation. These routes of treatment include: surgical removal, urohydropulsion, or dietary dissolution.
Surgical removal of stones, of a cystoomy, is sometimes necessary, but usually the quickest and most reliable way bladder stones. Your pet will undergo anesthesia, and the doctor will remove the stones from the bladder. This is a routine procedure that typically results in a speedy recovery for your pet! However, if the stones have made their way to the urethra and is blocking your pets ability to urinate, it is VITAL for it to be done quickly and efficiently.
Urohydropulsion is the next option, which consists of flushing the stones out through a catheter. This can only be performed if the stones are small enough to pass through the urethra without complications.
Finally, there is also an option to dissolve the stones though strict dietary changes. Although this would be the least invasive option, it is also the least common. Dietary dissolution can only be used on certain types of stones, it can take up to a few months for larger stones to dissolve, and since it is a slower process, your pet may still remain in pain and run the risk of urinary tract blockage, infections, or bleeding. Plus, no treats are allowed! Talk to your vet to see if this is an option for you.
How to prevent bladder stones?
Prevention methods depends on the type of stones your pet has. After the first removal of stones, the veterinarian will be able to run tests on the stones to confirm the type of stones (the type of mineral they are made of) and next steps forward. Prevention may consist of altered diets, antibiotics, etc. Please be aware that stones may simply be genetics, and your doctor may prescribe attentiveness on your part, to look out for early symptoms in the future.