Q: My mother’s dog, “Maverick,” had bladder stone surgery last week. He is a sweet little Bichon and doing really well after surgery. I have never heard of this before. Is this very common? W.E., Farragut
A: Yes, bladder stones are somewhat common in dogs, including Bichons. On average, we diagnose three or four new cases each month in both dogs and cats. Not all of these pets have clinical signs and/or require surgery, but certainly some do.
Not all bladder stones are the same. There are multiple types of stones that can be present in dogs and cats. Some are able to be dissolved with a special diet, while others cannot. Urinalysis and microscopic evaluation of the crystals in the urine will usually aid in making the decision to attempt dissolution with diet or proceeding with surgery.
There are times when surgery may be the best course of action. Stone size and quantity are important factors. For example, a pet with multiple small stones that are just the right size to cause an obstruction deserve surgical consideration. Other possible reasons include severe patient discomfort, multiple secondary infections and prior failed attempts at dissolution.
After Maverick’s surgery, the stones that were removed were likely submitted for analysis. Analysis can take several weeks but is really important. This information will tell if Maverick has a type of stone likely to recur, if he needs a prescription diet to prevent recurrence, or if he has a stone type that is likely to recur regardless of diet.
Certain breeds of dogs are predisposed to bladder stones, including Bichons, Schnauzers, and Dalmatians. Cats also get bladder stones, but less often.
If your dog or cat has experienced multiple UTIs, discomfort, straining to urinate or even bloody urine, talk to your veterinarian regarding the possibly of bladder stones. Together, you can discuss pursuing testing, which includes xrays and/or ultrasounds for your pet.
If you have questions about your pet, you may e-mail them to Dr. Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org