Brave Bernie's Battle of the Bladder Stone

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Bernie, a 7-year-old female desexed Labradoodle, was presented to Dr Jack for examination. Her family noticed her to be urinating lots of blood and she seemed to be having difficulty urinating. Bernie was also known to have had urinary tract infections in the past. When examined, Dr Jack could feel a solid mass in her abdomen. He felt that this was likely a bladder stone, due to its size, location and clinical history. This was confirmed with both an ultrasound and an xray of her abdomen. A single solid mass was visible in the bladder with both tests.  Bernie underwent surgery the same day and Dr Jack removed a rather large bladder stone measuring 7cm diameter. Ouch! Bernie had an uneventful recovery, going home the next day. She is feeling much better now that the stone has been removed!

Bladder stones, otherwise known as uroliths, are minerals and other substances in the bladder that build up and clump together. They can rub on the walls of the bladder causing irritation and contribute to infection, while in some cases they can actually cause a physical obstruction to the passage of urine. Bladder stones can be made up of several different types of minerals.  Some breeds of dogs are more prone to particular types of stones than others. In order to minimise the chance of recurrence it is important to identify the underlying cause of the bladder stones. Bernie’s impressive bladder stone has been sent to a laboratory in the USA for mineral analysis and once the results return further recommendations will be given on her long term management.

Bladder stones form in the presence of urinary tract infections, when urine has a high pH and stops being acidic (largely due to poor quality diets), or forming secondary to another clinical disease (commonly liver disease). Other contributing factors are inadequate water intake and holding on to urine too long or incomplete urinating leaving a lot of concentrated urine sitting the bladder for a long time.

Female pets tolerate bladder stones a lot better due to the larger passage compared to a male pet. A male can get a small stone stuck lower down in the urethra and cause a life threatening urinary tract obstruction. Male cats are very prone to this when fed lower quality dry food diets. All male cats must be on a high quality diet with protection against stone/mineral crystal formation. Increasing water intake can be done with feeding a wet food and providing more attractive water sources like circulating water fountains as pets often like running water to drink.

Bladder stones often need to be surgically removed but in some cases a premium diet can be used to dissolve small stones. Premium/prescription diets can be used to normalise the pH of the urine and prevent recurrence of stones.

Signs that you may see in your pet with a bladder stone include frequent urination and urgency, voiding only small volumes of urine, and pain on urination. Blood may also be visible in urine streams. If you are at all concerned it is best to get your pet examined by a vet as soon as possible. The best way to minimise the risk of your pet developing bladder stones is to feed a high quality pet food. Please contact the clinic for a diet recommendation for your pet to make sure this unpleasant condition doesn’t happen to your pet.

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