My dog has bladder stones and is unable to urinate. What is the treatment and how can we prevent this from reoccurring?

Original Question: My dog was diagnosed with kidney stones this past Friday. He can’t urinate and I’m trying to wait until tomorrow to take him to the vet. He was able to pass some stones through his ewing so they can send it to the lab to see what kind they are. The vet also gave me an antibiotic call Ciprofloxacin. What can I do while I’m waiting to take the dog in the morning to help him pee? I really was trying to see if he can pass them without surgery but his not able to use the restroom. - Tie

My dog has bladder stones and is unable to urinate. What is the treatment and how can we prevent this from reoccurring? Aug 20, 2018

Hi Tie,

Thanks for your question.

I’m going to make the assumption that these aren’t kidney stones but rather bladder stones. Kidney stones are typically incidental and rarely cause a blockage of urine. Far more common are bladder stones that get lodged in the urethra. The immediate treatment is to stabilize the patient, sedate them and pass a catheter through the urethra to push the stone back up into the bladder thereby relieving the blockage and the immediate threat. After this, they are typically hospitalized until blood levels return to normal and it is confirmed that they are able to pass urine well.

The next step is to prevent a recurrence. Radiographs are taken to identify the shape and number of bladder stones. An ultrasound could be considered to assess for any other structural issues in the bladder. Urine testing is done to identify the small pieces, or crystals, of the stone to determine its type. There are medical diets that can dissolve certain types of stones. Some stones will dissolve and others won’t, so it depends on which stones are present in your pet’s bladder. Keep in mind that some stones won’t shed crystals very well so on occasion, the crystals we see in a urine sample are not representative of the stones that may be in the bladder.

You say that your veterinarian prescribed ciprofloxacin. This is to treat an infection which may have been confirmed on the urinalysis. I recommend you speak to your veterinarian about performing a ‘culture and sensitivity’ on the urine sample. This is a very sensitive test to determine if there is an infection present which can occur concurrently with a bladder stone. It will also tell you which specific antibiotic will eliminate the infection. Performing the test again a week after the antibiotic treatment is completed will tell you whether the infection completely resolved or not.

You’ll have to speak to your veterinarian about what type of stone is present and if a diet exists to dissolve it. Some stones also form because of other underlying diseases or metabolic abnormalities in your pet’s body which blood work can help identify.

Surgical removal, known as a cystotomy is a simple surgery. It will also allow a veterinary surgeon to examine the wall of the bladder for any disease process or contributing factor. It will also allow sampling of the tissue if there are any concerns. This will immediately eliminate the bladder stones and the chance of them blocking.

If he is blocked, there is nothing you can do to help him urinate other than to take him to an emergency clinic and have them attempt the catheter again, perform surgery immediately, or insert a needle into the bladder and physically remove urine which is never recommended because the possibility of bladder rupture if it is significantly distended.

I hope some of this helps and I wish you luck.

Dr. Clayton Greenway

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