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Bladder Stones in Dogs

Bladder stones can cause urination issues in your dog and can even be fatal if they completely block the bladder. In today's post, our Tigard veterinarians discuss bladder stones in dogs.

What are bladder stones in dogs?

Bladder stones are also sometimes called cystic calculi or uroliths. These minerals often develop into rock-like formations in a dog’s urinary bladder.

They can be a collection of small tones or a single larger stone the size of a grain of sand to a piece of gravel. Small and large stones may coexist and cause an obstruction.

What causes bladder stones in dogs?

Bladder stones in dogs are typically caused by a combination of factors, such as diet, genetics, and underlying medical conditions. In some cases, certain breeds may be more prone to developing bladder stones due to their genetic predisposition.

What are the symptoms of bladder stones?

Common symptoms of bladder stones in dogs include:

  • Dysuria (straining to urinate)
  • Hematuria (blood in urine)

When stones rub against the bladder wall, they can cause irritation, tissue damage, and bleeding. If the urethra (the tube that transports urine from the bladder to the outside of the body) or bladder wall swells or inflames, urine flow may become physically obstructed, resulting in muscle spasms. This can cause dysuria.

Diagnosis of Bladder Stones in Dogs

Though symptoms of bladder stones are similar to those of cystitis or uncomplicated bladder infection, the two are different - most dogs who have bladder stones do not have a bladder infection. Therefore, your vet may need to do more investigation before diagnosing

Some stones may be too small to feel with the fingers through the bladder wall, or the bladder may be inflamed. X-rays, ultrasound, and radiographic contrast studies are also options.

How to Get Rid of Bladder Stones in Dogs

If your pooch is found to have bladder stones, your next question may be to ask, “What dissolves bladder stones in dogs?”

Bladder stones will typically have three potential treatments:

  • Surgical removal
  • Non-surgical removal by urohydropropulsion
  • Prescription diet and antibiotics

If left untreated, these stones can cause pain and obstruct the neck of the bladder or urethra, preventing your dog from fully emptying his or her bladder and only producing small squirts of urine.

Complete obstructions can lead to urine being totally blocked. If the obstruction is not relieved, this can cause a potentially life-threatening condition and lead to a ruptured bladder. This would be classified as a veterinary medical emergency, which would need your veterinarian's immediate attention.

Other Types of Stones

Gallstones form in the bladder as well, but they contain bile salts, whereas kidney stones are mineral deposits that form in the kidney. Both of these are not related to bladder stones. Although the urinary bladder and kidneys are both components of the urinary system, kidney stones are rarely associated with bladder stones. These stones form in one of these structures due to inflammation or disease.


The prognosis is usually good after bladder stones have been removed. Your veterinarian should take preventative measures to keep the stones from recurring.

Your dog should go to your primary care veterinarian on a regular basis (every few months) for x-rays or ultrasounds to see if the stones have returned. If the stones are small enough, your veterinarian may be able to remove them without surgery.

If your dog is having trouble urinating, our veterinarians can help. We have extensive experience diagnosing and effectively treating a wide range of conditions and illnesses.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you think your dog may have a bladder stone? Our Tigard vets at Cascade Veterinary Referral Center are experienced in treating many illnesses and conditions. Book an appointment today. 

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