When a doctor tells you that you have “stones” of any kind, you know that what follows won’t be a pleasant experience. The same is true for our furry family members, who may also get gallstones, kidney stones, or bladder stones. Bladder stones specifically form in, that’s right, the bladder. The “stones” are actually collections of minerals that form either one stone or multiple smaller ones about the size of grains of sand, or even gravel. Below we’ll tell you how bladder stones form, how to prevent bladder stones in your pets, symptoms of bladder stones, and what you ought to do if you suspect that your pet has already developed bladder stones.

There are a few possible reasons that bladder stones form. The most commonly accepted theory is called the Precipitation-Crystallization Theory, which states that one or more stone-forming crystalline compounds has become present in elevated levels within the urine. Those elevated levels could be due to diet or perhaps bacterial infection. When the amount of stone-forming compounds cannot all be dissolved in the urine, they form tiny crystals. These crystals stick together, usually due to mucus-like material within the bladder, and stones gradually form over weeks or even months. As time passes, the stones enlarge and increase in number, causing numerous symptoms and complications.

Bladder stone prevention is not 100% straightforward or effective, so consider the following tips to reduce overall risk of bladder stones while knowing that they could still form. Firstly, there is the matter of hydration. Increasing your pet’s water intake is perhaps the single best thing you can do to lower your pet’s risk of stones. If your pet always has fresh water available, but doesn’t seem to drink much, consider getting a fountain or adding wet food into their diet for additional moisture. Second, you’ll want to pay attention to your pet’s urination so that if one day there is an abnormality of any kind you will be able to recognize it!

While prevention is well and good you should still know what symptoms could be indicative of bladder stones. The two most common indicators are difficulty urinating and passing blood in the urine. For this reason, you’ll want to pay attention to your dog or cat’s urination and examine it periodically. If you suspect that your pet may have bladder stones, you’ll want to give NOVA Pets a call immediately at (703) 378-9791. Bladder stones cause extreme pain because the bladder cannot be emptied. In the worst case scenario the bladder could actually rupture, threatening the dog or cat’s life.

If your four-legged friend is treated for bladder stones here at NOVA Pets you can be assured that we will provide them the best care possible and prevent discomfort to the extent possible. If your pet’s bladder stones are removed surgically, you’ll want to follow general after-care best practices, such as: preventing your pet from licking or otherwise interacting with the incision, feed your pet as instructed by the veterinarian (you may even receive a prescription formula), offer fresh water frequently and encourage your pet to hydrate, and finally, monitor your pet closely for abrupt changes in appetite, behavior, urinary output, and any other activities indicated by your veterinary team.