Dog Bladder Stones: Does My Dog Need Surgery?

Bladder stones in dogs can cause concern for many pet owners. These rugged, rock-like formations in the bladder can cause discomfort and lead to more severe health issues if left untreated. In this guide, brought to you by Fetch Specialty & Emergency Centers, we’ll explore the signs of bladder stones, their causes, and the crucial question: Does your dog need surgery?




Understanding Bladder Stones in Dogs

Bladder stones form when minerals and other substances in the urine crystallize. These stones can vary in size, from tiny grains to large rocks, and can cause blockages, infections, and other complications.

Signs Your Dog Might Have Bladder Stones

  • Frequent urination or attempts to urinate
  • Blood in the urine
  • Straining or whimpering during urination
  • Licking the urinary opening more than usual
  • Inability to pass urine – EMERGENT CONCERN

Causes of Bladder Stones

Several factors can contribute to the formation of bladder stones in dogs:

  • Urinary tract infections
  • Imbalance in the urine’s pH level
  • Dietary factors
  • Genetic predisposition in some breeds
  • Intact or un-neutered status
  • Liver insufficiency or PSS

Does My Dog Need Surgery?

The decision to opt for surgery depends on several factors:

  1. Size and Number of Stones: Small stones might pass on their own or with the help of dietary changes, medications, or minimally-invasive procedures. Larger rocks or a significant number of them likely require surgical removal.
  2. Sex: Male dogs have a narrower urethra (tube that allows urine to flow from the bladder out of the body) than female dogs. This, along with the length of the male urethra, can take away the ability to perform minimally-invasive procedures.
  3. Location of the Stones: Stones that block the urethra can be life-threatening and typically require immediate intervention.
  4. Type of Stone: Some stones are not able to be dissolved with diet or medications. In this case, if they can’t be removed by minimally-invasive means, they require surgery.

Alternative Treatment Options

While surgery is effective, it’s not the only option:

  • Minimally invasive procedures:
    • Voiding hydropropulsion is where small stones are ejected from body when the bladder is expressed with the patient under general anesthesia. This can be performed in both male and female dogs.
    • Cystoscopy with basket retrieval of stones or using a special laser to break up stones is an option in female dogs.
  • Dietary Changes: Special diets can help dissolve certain types of stones and prevent them from recurring.
  • Medications: Some medications can help dissolve bladder stones.

Consulting the Vet

If you suspect your dog has bladder stones, it’s essential to consult a veterinarian. They can provide a proper diagnosis and recommend the best course of action. Fetch Specialty & Emergency Centers experts are always available to offer guidance and ensure the best care for your pet.

Bladder stones can be uncomfortable and potentially dangerous for dogs. Recognizing the signs and seeking timely treatment is crucial. Whether it’s surgery, minimally invasive procedures, dietary changes, or medications, the primary goal is to ensure your dog’s health and comfort. Always trust professionals like those at Fetch Specialty & Emergency Centers to guide you through the process.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Q: How are bladder stones in dogs diagnosed?

A: A combination of physical examination, urine tests, X-rays, and ultrasounds can help diagnose bladder stones in dogs.


Q: Can bladder stones in dogs be prevented?

A: Regular check-ups, a balanced diet, and ensuring your dog has access to clean water can help reduce the risk of bladder stones. Once stones have been diagnosed and treated, further prevention with a prescription diet and or medications is often implemented.


Q: How long can a dog’s recovery from bladder stone surgery take?

A: Recovery time can vary, but most dogs feel better within a few days. It’s essential to follow post-operative care guidelines to ensure a smooth recovery and successful healing of the incision site.


Q: Are specific dog breeds more prone to bladder stones?

A: While any dog can develop bladder stones, some breeds like Dalmatians, English Bulldogs, Yorkshire Terriers, miniature Schnauzers, Lhasa Apsos, and Bichons are predisposed.

About Us

Fetch Specialty & Emergency Veterinary Centers is a family-owned practice providing elevated specialty care, emergency medicine, and critical care in three convenient locations throughout Florida and South Carolina. Our board-certified veterinarians and highly skilled support staff all share a deep appreciation for pets, people, and the human-animal bond. We recognize how much you love your pet as a part of your family, and that’s why we love what we do!