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 is also known as nephrolithiasis, and the actual 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. Also, some stones or fragments 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’s what you should know about the symptoms, causes, and treatments for kidney stones in dogs.
Symptoms Of Kidney Stones In Dogs
Sometimes dogs who have kidney stones show no outward symptoms at all, and stones aren’t found until vets run tests for other medical conditions. However, symptoms that do appear can vary depending on where the 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
Additionally, some kidney stones in dogs are inactive, which means they aren’t infected, aren’t growing, and aren’t causing obstructions. Inactive 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 too 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 stones forming.
Here are several factors that can cause kidney stones to form in dogs:
- Recurrent urinary tract infections
- Improper diet
- Long-term exposure to diuretics
Also, certain breeds are genetically predisposed to developing kidney stones. These include:
- English Bulldogs
- Lhasa Apsos
- Miniature Poodles
- Shih Tzus
- 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 cause an immediate health risk. However, most kidney stones are not of great concern and can be dissolved with proper medication and dietary changes.
Exactly which medications and dietary changes a vet prescribes will depend 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.
Vets may prescribe pain medication, as well as antibiotics to prevent or treat urinary tract infections.
If there’s a high risk of urinary tract obstruction or if there’s already an obstruction, the vet may place a catheter in the urethra, and they may flush the stones out with saline solution. If stones are too large, the vet may need to perform surgery. Furthermore, 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 stones into small pieces that can be flushed easily through the urinary tract. This is a solution that reduces the need for invasive surgery.
Vets may prescribe lifelong dietary changes during and after recovery, and dogs need to be monitored, as kidney stones tend to recur. Even if your dog recovers, you should continue with follow-up vet appointments and always look out for symptoms that suggest stones might be forming again.
Treat any urinary tract infections, and report abnormalities to your vet.
Has your dog ever had kidney stones? How did you treat them? Let us know in the comments below!