It’s not hard to imagine that a little stone tumbling around your pet’s bladder would cause some irritation. Apart from the discomfort, bladder stones can lead to recurring urinary tract infections. But the real concern is that they occasionally find their way out of the bladder and into the urethra, where they can cause very painful and life-threatening obstructions.
A dog or cat suffering from bladder stones may urinate frequently and/or have accidents in the house. Sometimes the urine may be bloody. Other times, the pet can’t urinate at all. If you see your pet straining to urinate, he may be blocked — a problem that’s more common in male pets, who have a smaller urethra — which is a situation that should be treated as a veterinary emergency.
Bladder stones form due to several conditions, and there are different types of stones. Some breeds, like Bichons, Yorkies, Miniature Schnauzers, Dalmatians and Bulldogs, are genetically prone to forming stones, while others get them as a result of chronic infections or metabolic diseases. X-rays are usually sufficient to show that bladder stones are present, although there are some kinds of stones that will not show up.
Treatment always focuses on getting rid of the stones. Large stones are surgically removed, but it may be possible to force smaller stones out of the bladder non-surgically. Some kinds of stones can be dissolved by feeding your pet a prescription diet. Similarly, some stones can be prevented by managing their underlying conditions. Ask your vet about what may be best for your pet.