We have had two dogs in the hospital today that have had to have stones surgically removed from their bladders under general anaesthetic. Bladder stones are not uncommon in dogs, these stones start out as tiny, microscopic crystals but over time they can form into quite sizeable solid stones – it sometimes feels like you are taking gravel or pebble sized stones out of these bladders.

Bladder stones can form for a variety of reasons – often secondary to an infection or because the urine is at the wrong pH. Some dogs are more predisposed to bladder stones than others. If we detect crystals in a dog's urine early enough we can dissolve the crystals using special diets to change the pH of the urine and giving antibiotics if necessary. However, once the stones are above a certain size, we are not going to be able to dissolve them and we are going to have to go in and get them out. The risk of not removing these stones is that one will pass out of the bladder into the urethra (the urine tube to the outside world) get stuck and cause a blockage.

Once we have surgically removed these stones we tend to send them away to be tested (interestingly they get sent all the way to America for testing) then, once we know exactly what type of stone they are, we can recommend the best diet for patient to be on to prevent them recurring. Regular follow up urine samples help us keep track of these cases and ensure the stones do not get a chance to re-form.