Your dog is part of the family. And as a family member, you want to provide him with the best care possible, ensuring that he is comfortable, happy, and healthy. But sometimes, unexpected health issues can arise, such as kidney stones, causing discomfort and other health problems.
Also known as uroliths, kidney stones are crystalized formations in your pet’s kidneys that result from the concentration of mineral salts found in the urine. They can also form in the ureters, urethra, or bladder of your pooch. If you suspect that your dog is suffering from stones, it is important to contact your vet as soon as possible. If you can, collect a sample of urine in a small container directly from your pet’s stream of urine.
While all dogs can be prone to developing kidney stones, some breeds are far more susceptible to certain kinds of stones. These are known as “stone former” breeds and can include Miniature Schnauzers, Lhasa Apso, Shih Tzu, and Yorkshire Terriers. They can be painful and also lead to urinary tract inflammation, tissue damage, infection, and possible urinary tract obstruction.
Signs & Symptoms of Kidney Stones in Dogs
Here are some signs that your furry friend may be suffering from kidney stones:
- Urinating in odd places
- Bloody urine
- Discomfort during urination
- Straining to urinate
- Licking at his genitals
- Abdominal pain
- Frequent urination that produces only small amounts
- Recurrent urinary tract infections
- Weight loss
- Poor appetite
Types of Kidney Stones in Dogs
There are several different types of kidney stones to be aware of. Bladder stones can reach three to four inches in diameter and form from the precipitation of mineral salts. Struvite and calcium oxalate stones make up 85 percent of canine uroliths. Kidney stones can form from several different mineral types, including uric acid, calcium oxalate, struvite, cysteine, and calcium phosphate.
Causes of Canine Kidney Stones
If the pH levels of your dog’s urine become too alkaline or acidic or if the urine becomes too concentrated, salt crystals can form into kidney stones. There are a number of different causes for canine kidney stones, including:
- Increased water reabsorption by the kidneys
- Changes in urine pH
- Increased mineral salt concentration in the urine
Diagnosing Kidney Stones in Dogs
If you think your pet is showing any of the kidney stone symptoms listed above, it is critical to make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible. Collect a sample of urine in a small container directly from the stream of urine and keep it in the fridge until your appointment. Be sure the sample is no older than 24 hours, or it may not be helpful for analysis.
Be sure to tell your vet all of the symptoms you have noticed in your pet. Your vet may conduct a physical examination to detect an obstructed bladder or abdominal pain. An abdominal x-ray or ultrasound will provide a definitive diagnosis.
If you cannot provide a urine sample, the vet can collect one at the clinic. This sample will detect abnormal pH levels, the presence of crystals, or blood in the urine.
Additional testing may include systemic blood pressure and contrast radiography.
Treatment for Canine Kidney Stones
The method of treatment will greatly depend on the size, location, and type of kidney stone that is afflicting your pet. Some treatment options will include:
- Medication – This will be prescribed to acidify the urine and help to dissolve the stones.
- Dietary Adjustments – When the risk of urinary tract obstruction is low, a specialized diet may be prescribed to bring the urine pH levels back to normal. These diets will normally involve low protein, magnesium, and phosphorous.
- Urohydropropulsion – This procedure may be performed if the risk of urinary tract obstruction is high and the stones are smaller.
- Surgery – When the stones are too big for urohydropropulsion and the risk of obstruction is high, surgery may be performed.
- ESWL – Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy can remove stones without the risks of invasive surgery.
Kidney stones can happen to any dog. It is important to know the signs so you can act accordingly.