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What causes bladder stones in dogs?

Bladder stones can cause urination issues in your dog and can even be fatal if they completely block the bladder. In today's post, our Seymour veterinarians discuss bladder stones in dogs.

What are bladder stones in dogs?

Bladder stones are solidified calcium lodged in the bladder of the canine it affects.

They can be a collection of small tones or a single larger stone the size of a grain of sand to a piece of gravel. Small and large stones may coexist and cause an obstruction.

What are the symptoms of bladder stones?

The two most common symptoms of bladder stones in dogs are dysuria (straining to urinate) and hematuria (blood in urine).

When stones rub against the bladder wall, they may cause bleeding, irritation, and tissue damage. Muscle spasms and a physical obstruction in urine flow may result from swelling or inflammation of the bladder wall or urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. This may cause dysuria.

Diagnosis of Bladder Stones in Dogs

While cystitis and simple bladder infections share many symptoms with bladder stones, the two conditions are not the same; in fact, the majority of dogs with bladder stones do not also have an infection. Thus, before making a diagnosis, your veterinarian might need to conduct additional research. 

Some stones may be too small to feel with the fingers through the bladder wall, or the bladder may be inflamed. X-rays, ultrasound, and radiographic contrast studies are also options.

How to Get Rid of Bladder Stones in Dogs

Depending on the severity of the bladder stones, your vet will likely recommend one of three common treatments:

  • Surgical removal
  • Non-surgical removal by urohydropropulsion
  • Prescription diet and antibiotics

If these stones are not removed, they may irritate your dog's bladder and urethra, causing them to only partially empty their bladder and squirt little amounts of urine instead of emptying it completely.

What dissolves bladder stones in dogs?

Sometimes, bladder stones can be dissolved by feeding your dog a special diet that is formulated to dissolve them. This diet will be tailored to the specific type of stone that is present. The advantage of this option is that it avoids surgery.

Other Types of Stones

Gallstones form in the bladder as well, but they contain bile salts, whereas kidney stones are mineral formations that form in the kidney. Both of these are unrelated to bladder stones.

Although the kidneys and bladder are components of the urinary system, kidney stones are not frequently linked to bladder stones. Disease or inflammation can cause these stones to form in either of these structures.


After the stones have been removed, your vet should be able to take steps to prevent them from coming back.

For x-rays or ultrasounds to check for the return of the stones, your dog should see your primary care veterinarian every few months. Without surgery, the veterinarian might be able to remove the stones if they are small enough.

If your dog is showing signs of obstruction due to bladder stones you should reach out to your vet or the nearest after-hours emergency vet right away as this can be a life-threatening situation.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Are you concerned your dog may be experiencing serious complications related to bladder stones or urinary issues? Our vets at Seymour Veterinary Hospital are here to help in emergency situations. 

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