Question:

Our small rescue dog is 14 years old. During a recent senior checkup we discovered a bladder stone (from an ultrasound during a draw for urinalysis). She has no symptoms. She is increasingly distressed when we go to the veterinarian (panting, shaking, defecating). What is the worst case scenario if we do nothing? I love my dog, but I do not want to upend her mellow senior life.

Dr. Nichol:

I appreciate your concerns. We consider different factors with a canine senior on cruise control. Some problems advance so slowly that they never catch up to the patient.

Bladder stones come in multiple flavors; some have the potential to cause serious trouble, others are more benign. Some grow large enough, or there may be so many of them, that they cause inflammation, painful urination or a sudden inability to pass any urine at all. Your little girl’s stone doesn’t require immediate treatment because it isn’t causing trouble-yet.

Bladder stones are recognized by their mineral composition. Many dogs have crystals in their urine sediment that identify their stone’s makeup. Some stones require surgical removal, others can be dissolved.

Ideally urine samples are taken directly from the bladder but your scared girl gets too stressed for her own safety. Use a clean soup ladle to catch a sample at home for urinalysis and culture. You can also check the ground each time your dog urinates to see if she’s voided a small stone. Your veterinarian can submit that for quantitative analysis and culture.

The good news is that many canine bladder stones are composed of struvite, a combination of minerals directly linked to bacterial infection. The right antibiotic plus a prescription diet may be enough to painlessly dissolve your girl’s stone(s) and make her bladder gladder. Don’t wait for trouble-get a diagnosis soon.

 

Each week Dr. Jeff Nichol makes a short video or podcast to help bring out the best in pets. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Dr. Nichol treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (505-792-5131). You can post pet behavioral or physical questions at facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.