What are bladder stones?
Bladder stones (or bladder calculi) are formations of minerals in the bladder. They can appear as multiple small stones or as a large stone, and can start out small and over time grow in number and size. Symptoms include frequent urination, straining, blood in the urine, accidents around the home and licking around the area due to pain and discomfort.
Causes of bladder stones
By far the most common cause of bladder stones is diets containing excess salt, with these minerals forming crystals within the urine which continue to grow. Occasionally they are secondary to genetic issues where particular enzymes are missing such as in Dalmatians.
Bladder stones are most commonly diagnosed by x-rays. Crystals can sometimes be detected in urine samples. Careful palpation of the abdomen, during consultation, can often reveal stones in the bladder as well.
Surgery is the quickest way of solving the clinical signs. An incision is made in the ventral abdomen, the bladder exposed, incised, and the stones removed. The bladder is then closed followed by the abdomen. The procedure is often quite quick, taking no longer than 30 minutes in most cases. Occasionally stones can be dissolved by special diets over a period of many weeks, as an alternative to surgery.
Cost of the procedure
The cost to diagnose and treat these cases at SEAH is approx. $1,000 - $1,200. Occasionally stones can also be present in the urethra in male dog’s and longer surgery, with some increase in costs, may be required. Further costs can include sending the stones (calculi) away for analysis to determine their make-up. Treated at referral centres, these cases usually end up costing owners $4,000 - $7,000 or more, depending on the length of the stay in hospital.
Recovery and aftercare
When treated at SEAH, pets usually only have to spend a single night in hospital before being discharged back into their owner’s care. They go home on pain relief and antibiotic tablets. The most common change post-surgery, is changing their diet to one of a number of prescription or premium foods to prevent the problem from recurring.