Mon 13th Oct 2014

Pet of the Month – Max

Max is a 7 year old, big and bouncy, bear of a German Shepherd who was recently diagnosed and had surgery to remove a rather unusual bladder stone.

Max’s owner realised things weren’t quite right when she noticed blood in his urine. Max was initially treated for a urinary tract infection, but when things didn’t improve we decided it was time to do some more investigations and find out what was going on inside Max’s urinary tract. Max was admitted to the hospital for an X-ray and immediately we could see that there was something wrong with Max’s bladder. He was admitted to the hospital for surgery and a very unusual bladder stone was removed. The stone was then sent to Minnesota in the USA for analysis. Max is now fully recovered and back home terrorising the cats and horses!

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What are bladder stones and how are they formed?

Bladder stones (also known as calculi or uroliths) can affect cats, dogs, rabbits and guinea pigs and they can be found anywhere along the urinary tract; including the kidneys and bladder. They are formed when components found in the urine (crystals) build up to abnormally high levels. The most common types of stones seen in or pets are made of struvite, calcium phosphate, calcium oxalate, urate and cystine. And sometimes stones can be made up of a combination of these components. The stones can be hard, soft, smooth or rough (depending on what they are made of) and come in all shapes and sizes.

Why do our pets get bladder stones?

There are a number of different reasons why pets get bladder stones. The most common types of stones found in our pets are related to diet. The pH of their urine can also be an important factor, as some stones form in acidic urine and others like to form in more alkaline urine. Other things such as infections, genetics, breeding and obesity can predispose our pets to developing stones.

What are the signs of bladder stones?

Signs of bladder stones can vary depending on what the stones are made of, how big they are and where they are found. Some signs that could indicate bladder stones include: changes in urination, such as urinating more often or less often, straining/difficulty passing urine, pain whilst urinating and blood in the urine. Pets may also show signs of abdominal discomfort. Sometimes stones can cause a blockage, which can become a medical emergency and veterinary attention should be sought immediately.

How are bladder stones diagnosed and treated?

Diagnosing stones can be difficult. Urine samples, x-rays and sometimes ultrasound scans are needed to help diagnose bladder stones. Once diagnosed, stones can get sent away for analysis as the underlying cause will help decide the treatment plan. Some stones can be managed with diet and medicine whereas, others require surgical removal. Even with medical treatment, diet alterations and surgery stones can re-occur if there is a genetic predisposition or if underlying diseases are not identified and treated.

Do not hesitate to contact us if you are concerned or think that your pet is showing signs of bladder stones. Also, if you would like any more information regarding bladder stones do not hesitate to ask us, we are more than happy to provide advice.

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