Kidney stones are made up of naturally occurring by-products of the kidney, such as calcium, uric acid and oxalate. They have a crystal-like appearance and can vary in size and number. All breeds of dog can develop kidney stones, but certain breeds are particularly susceptible to this condition.
It's not always possible to identify why a dog develops kidney stones, but they can occur as a result of recurrent urinary tract infections or a diet that causes the urine to be too alkaline in nature. Kidney stones can be painful and they can cause an obstruction in the urinary tract, which can lead to bacterial infection taking hold, so it's important to be aware of this condition. Here's an overview of the symptoms and treatments for kidney stones in dogs:
Symptoms of kidney stones in dogs include straining to urinate, passing small amounts of urine and pain during urination, which can cause them to vomit. Your dog may also have streaks of blood in their urine. When urinating is painful, some dogs stop eating and drinking to prevent the need to urinate, which can lead to dehydration and lethargy. If your dog develops an infection due to a partial or complete blockage in their urinary tract, they will develop a fever and their coat will appear dull.
Diagnosis And Treatments
To diagnose kidney stones, your vet will take details of your dog's symptoms and carry out a physical exam. They will take a urine sample to check pH levels and confirm the presence of bacteria, blood or high levels of the minerals found in kidney stones. Your dog will then have an ultrasound to allow the vet to determine the size, number and location of the kidney stones. The ultrasound can be carried out while your dog is awake, but if they are nervous, your vet may give them a mild sedative before the procedure. The findings from the ultrasound will allow your vet to formulate an effective treatment plan.
If your dog's kidney stones are small and not causing an obstruction, your vet will prescribe medication to dissolve the stones. This can be administered at home, and your vet will arrange a follow-up appointment for your dog to have a second ultrasound to confirm that treatment has been successful. Large stones and those causing an obstruction will have to be surgically removed. This can be done using keyhole surgical techniques, and your dog should be able to go home the day after their surgery so long as they are passing urine without any problems.
If your dog has any of the symptoms associated with kidney stones, schedule an urgent appointment with your vet to prevent any unnecessary suffering and to learn more about things like pet ultrasounds.