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How to Treat Bladder Stones in Dogs and Cats

If your fur baby has been suffering from bladder stones and has been formally diagnosed by a vet, they will need to begin treatment. The options will depend mostly on the type of stone present, which your vet will determine through laboratory testing. Although your pet may require surgery, these procedures are straightforward and should be no cause for concern.

Treatment options

You may be surprised to know that there are a number of different types of bladder stones, and the type of stones (along with the size) will affect the way that they are treated.

The three most common options for treatment are:

Surgical removal – this involves opening up the bladder through an incision in the abdomen and removing the stones manually. Most animals recover from the surgery very quickly and will see an improvement in symptoms in two to four days. For animals with an obstructed urethra, surgical intervention is imperative.

Non-surgical removal – smaller stones may be expelled from the bladder and urethra using a technique known as urohydropropulsion. This involves a catheter of a sterile saline solution, along with manual palpitations, that helps flush out the stones. Another method of non-surgical removal is lithotripsy, which involves breaking up the stones by use of ultrasonic shock waves.

Dietary dissolution – in some cases surgery or other medical procedures can be avoided by the use of a specialized diet. This can be a great option for animals who have other health problems and may not cope well with surgery. The downside to dietary dissolution is that it is only effective on struvite stones, and will not work for stones formed from other minerals. It is also a slow process and may take months to fully dissolve all the stones in an animal’s bladder.

Preventing bladder stones

If your pet has been treated for and cleared of bladder stones, or if you think they might be at risk of developing them, there are some steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of stones forming in future.

A change in diet – for struvite stones, in particular, managing your pet’s diet can make all the difference. A correct diet will not only ensure there is no over-concentration of crystal-forming minerals but will also help to ensure a healthy pH balance in the bladder.

Increase water intake – it’s a simple fix, but should not be overlooked. Dehydration leads to more concentrated urine with an acidic pH level, which promotes the growth of the mineral crystals that lead to bladder stones. Plenty of water will also allow the expulsion of any smaller crystals before they become unmanageable.

Checkups with your vet – for those animals that have been treated for bladder stones in the past, your vet will most likely require ongoing checkups. This may involve urine analysis to check for pH levels and mineral concentration, and possibly radiographs or ultrasounds.

How to Treat Bladder Stones in Dogs and Cats

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