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Cystoliths in Dogs:

Understanding and Managing Bladder Stones

Cystoliths, often termed bladder stones, are mineral aggregates that form within the urinary bladder. These stones vary in size, number, and composition and can lead to discomfort and health issues for your dog. 



Several factors contribute to the formation of cystoliths in dogs, including 

Dietary Influences: Certain diets can increase the risk of cystolith formation by affecting the urinary pH or by being high in stone-forming minerals. 

Urinary Tract Infections: Bacteria can change the urine composition, facilitating stone formation. 

Genetic Predisposition: Some dog breeds are more prone to developing specific types of stones. 

Dehydration: Insufficient water intake can result in more concentrated urine, which may lead to stone formation. 


Symptoms to Watch For 

Dogs with cystoliths might exhibit symptoms such as: 
  • Difficulty urinating or frequent attempts to urinate 

  • Blood in the urine 

  • Painful urination 

  • Urinary accidents in previously house-trained dogs 

  • Lethargy or decreased appetite 



Diagnosing cystoliths generally involves: 

Physical Examination: Your vet will perform a thorough physical exam.  A physical examination involves observing the general appearance of your pet, listening to their lungs and chest with a stethoscope (auscultation), Checking eyes and ears, skin and feet as well as feeling specific areas of the body (palpation). 

Urinalysis: To evaluate the chemical composition of the urine and check for the presence of infection. 

Imaging: X-rays or ultrasound are used to detect the presence of stones within the bladder. 

Treatment Options: 

The treatment will depend on the stone’s type and size, encompassing: 

Surgical Removal: The most direct method to remove bladder stones. 

Dissolution through Diet: Certain types of stones can be dissolved with special diets over time. 

Increased Water Consumption: Encouraging more water intake can help dilute the urine and may prevent stone formation. 

Medications: If a urinary tract infection is present, antibiotics will be necessary. 



Preventive strategies include: 

Dietary Management: Feeding a diet formulated to prevent stone formation, based on your vet’s recommendation. 

Encouraging Hydration: Providing fresh water at all times and possibly adding wet food to your dog’s diet. 

Routine Health Checks: Regular veterinary visits for urinalysis can help catch and manage issues early. 

Follow-Up Care 

After treatment, follow-up visits are crucial to ensure the stones are fully resolved and to monitor for any recurrence. These visits may include urinalysis and imaging tests. If you notice any symptoms of cystoliths in your dog or have concerns about their urinary health, please contact us immediately for advice and treatment options. Early intervention is key to managing this condition effectively and ensuring your dog’s health and comfort.