Does My Pet Have Kidney Stones or Bladder Stones? Good Question!
Unlike people, where kidney stones are unfortunately fairly common and most often very painful, dogs and cats are relatively unlikely to get kidney stones during their lifetime. Bladder stones in dogs or cats, on the other hand, are very common!
If your pet is having trouble with urination, blood in the urine, discomfort when urinating, loss of house training, or other inappropriate urination, be sure to see your veterinarian as soon as possible. Ask a lot of questions and have your veterinarian clarify between uncommon kidney stones and common bladder stones if you are uncertain about what is being diagnosed!
In dogs and cats, a number of medical troubles can contribute to the formation of kidney stones. It is less common but not impossible for a diagnosis of kidney stones to be made “out of the blue” or without some of the following prior troubles.
What Causes Kidney Stones in Dogs and Cats?
The most common factors associated with kidney stones in pets include:
- Genetic predisposition in certain breeds, including Bulldogs, some Terriers, Dalmatians, Lhasa Apsos, Miniature Poodles, Schnauzers, Balinese, Burmese, Persian, and Siamese cats. Often the urinary trouble with these predisposed breeds can start as a simple bladder infection, but because of genetics, something simple can lead to the more complicated kidney stones.
- Congenital abnormalities or birth defects in the bladder or vulva, although rare, can lead to bladder infections and kidney stones. If these problems are not well controlled or diagnosed quickly, complications can lead to kidney stones.
- Recurrent or repeated complicated bladder infections can alter the chemistry of the urine and contribute to increased mineral content in the urine. This can sometimes form crystals and bladder stones and eventually trouble heads “uphill” to the level of the kidney. This kind of complication is not common, especially if you are getting excellent care for your pet’s bladder troubles and recurrent or repeated infections don’t happen.
- A disease that makes thorough urination impossible can eventually lead to kidney stones. A cat that has dealt with feline lower urinary tract disease and its complications, including increased crystals in the urine, is at higher risk for kidney stones than the average cat. Similarly, a dog with a bad back may have permanent nerve damage that prevents him from voiding completely. Urine retention can lead to changes in the urine itself that, with time, make kidney stones more likely.
Bladder Infection in Dogs and Cats: Similarities and Associations
The symptoms associated with kidney stones in dogs or cats are sometimes very similar to what you may see with other urinary issues like a recurrent bladder infection. Symptoms can include:
- Pain when urinating
- Back pain
- Blood in the urine
- Increased frequency and urgency of urination.
Other more generalized symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
Does My Dog or Cat Show Signs of Kidney Stones? See Your Veterinarian!
In order to accurately diagnose kidney stones, your veterinarian has to perform tests that involve diagnostic imaging, such as x-rays or ultrasounds; contrast studies; or even procedures as elaborate as a CT scan or MRI. Prior to imaging, urinalysis and blood tests are typically performed.
The methods to treat kidney stones in dogs and cats vary widely. In some cases, kidney stones can be found by accident when taking an x-ray of another part of the abdomen, and treatment might not even be necessary or recommended. At the other extreme, surgery or lithotripsy might be necessary to remove or disintegrate the stones. Unlike bladder stone surgery, which can be relatively straightforward, procedures or surgeries to help with kidney stones are much more complicated and are often quite expensive. Although helping a pet with kidney stones can be tough, in many cases the prognosis is quite good. Each case is a little different, so be sure you are working with a veterinarian that you trust and that is able to help you make informed decisions.
In the long-term, it’s best to get medical insurance for your pet when they’re a puppy or a kitten, particularly before they show any signs of a urinary issue. Trupanion can provide fantastic pet insurance coverage for the care and treatment of these issues. Get a quick quote today.