Kidney stones in dogs happen when crystals or stones form in the kidneys, usually due to an abnormal concentration of mineral salts in the urine. This condition is also known as nephrolithiasis, and the actual kidney stones are also called nephroliths or uroliths. In dogs, there are several types of kidney stones that are made of different minerals, and the type of stones that form determines what kind of treatment dogs receive, as does the size of the stones. Sometimes kidney stones or fragments of stones pass through ducts in the urinary tract and cause serious complications. If you see the signs of kidney stones in your dog, consult your veterinarian right away so they can form a proper diagnosis and provide treatment. Here is what you should know about the symptoms, causes, and treatments for kidney stones in dogs.
Symptoms Of Kidney Stones In Dogs
Sometimes dogs that have kidney stones show no outward symptoms at all, and kidney stones aren’t found until veterinarians run tests for other medical conditions. Symptoms that do appear can vary depending on where the kidney stones are located and which type of stones have formed. Here are some common signs of kidney stones in dogs.
- Abdominal pain or pain near the kidneys
- Blood in urine
- Increased or decreased urination
- Difficulty or pain while urinating
- Decreased volume of urine
- Recurring urinary tract infections
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
Some kidney stones in dogs are inactive, meaning they aren’t infected, aren’t growing, and aren’t causing obstructions. Inactive kidney stones may not need to be removed, as they don’t cause symptoms or damage, but they should be monitored through urinalysis regularly to make sure there are no changes.
Causes Of Kidney Stones In Dogs
There are many conditions that can cause kidney stones to form in dogs. Normally, urine is slightly acidic and breaks down minerals, then flushes them out of the body. When urine becomes to acidic or concentrated, salt crystals form and create stones. An overabundance of these minerals such as calcium in the blood or urine may also lead to kidney stones. Here are several factors that can cause kidney stones to form in dogs.
- Recurrent urinary tract infections
- Improper diet
- Long-term exposure to diuretics
Certain breeds are genetically predisposed to developing kidney stones. These include Dalmations, English Bulldogs, Lhasa Apsos, Miniature Poodles, Shih Tzus, and Yorkshire Terriers.
Treatments For Kidney Stones In Dogs
The type of treatment for kidney stones that dogs receive depends on the type of stones, their location, and whether they are causing an immediate health risk. Most kidney stones are not of great concern and can be dissolved with proper medication and dietary changes. Exactly which medications and dietary changes will be dependent on what kinds of minerals the stones are made of. These treatments may be designed to increase water intake to dilute minerals in the urine or bring the urine acidity back to an appropriate level. Pain medication may be prescribed, as well, and antibiotics may be given to prevent or treat urinary tract infection.
If there is a high risk of urinary tract obstruction or if there is already an obstruction, a catheter may be placed in the urethra, and the stones may be flushed out with saline solution. If stones are too large, surgery may be needed. The kidney may be removed, or the bladder and urethra may be cleared of stones and flushed.
Another treatment called extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) may be used. This procedure uses sound waves to break the kidney stones into small pieces that can be flushed more easily through the urinary tract. This is a solution that reduces the need for invasive surgery.
Lifelong dietary changes may be prescribed during and after recovery, and dogs will need to be monitored, as kidney stones tend to recur. If your dog recovers from kidney stones, you should continue with follow-up vet appointments and always look out for symptoms that suggest kidney stones might be forming again. Treat any urinary tract infections, and report abnormalities to your veterinarian.
Has your dog ever had kidney stones? How were they treated? Let us know in the comments below!