Urate crystals are more likely to affect certain dog breeds than they are others. More often than not, at the root of this health issue stands a genetic abnormality that makes some dogs more likely to develop them as a consequence of an incorrect uric acid metabolism.
In today’s article, we’re looking at most of the things you should know about urate bladder stones in dogs – from their causes and diagnosis to how they can be treated and if any prevention methods currently exist.
Causes and frequency of diagnosis
We have already mentioned that some dogs are more predisposed to this health problem, and the three main breeds that are included in this category are Dalmatians, Black Russian Terriers, and English Bulldogs.
If any other dog that’s not a member of either of these three breeds is diagnosed with a urate bladder stone, chances are that they are suffering from liver disease, and that is what has caused the urinary complication.
Statistically, urate bladder stones are more common in males than they are in females. More than 90% of the male representatives of those three breeds have a higher likelihood of developing such stones compared to their female counterparts.
Symptoms and diagnosis
Urate bladder stones are often diagnosed because the clinical manifestations that are associated with them can definitely convince pet owners to bring their dogs to the veterinary clinic.
Pets will start straining to urinate and experience pain while doing it, and blood will be visible in the urine. The dogs that do not receive treatment as soon as possible can quickly develop a complication that makes it impossible for them to urinate further. This can be a life-threatening situation as the urine has toxic compounds that have to be eliminated from the body or otherwise, they can quickly cause a case of bad intoxication.
If your dog is experiencing any type of urinary symptom, whether that be pain, trying to urinate but not being able to, or peeing blood, take them to the animal hospital right away. Time is of the essence when it comes to treating urate bladder stones and any other type of urinary pathology, for that matter.
As for how urate bladder stones are diagnosed, imaging methods seem to be the most effective means. Usually, these bodies are apparent when ultrasonography is performed. Unfortunately, they are not usually visible on traditional x-rays, where a false negative result is reported in about 20% of all cases.
Treatment of urate bladder stones in dogs
When it comes to treating this health condition, there are several possibilities available. One of them would be to use a nonsurgical removal method, where the stones are taken out of the dog’s body with a procedure called hydropropulsion. In this case, the vet will use a catheter to fill up the bladder so that the stones are pushed out because of the pressure that accumulates inside it.
As you can imagine, urohydropropulsion can be quite painful, so some dogs may have to be sedated fully or partially. However, it does have its advantages since the recovery process is much quicker compared to the surgical treatment. Urohydropropulsion can only be used when the stones are small in diameter and would fit the animal’s urethra.
When the stones are large and cannot be removed with this method, the dog needs to be performed an operation on. The procedure is called a cystotomy and involves opening the urinary bladder to remove the stones mechanically.
While the recovery is more or less fast, also considering the dog’s otherwise general health status, urine is acidic and full of bacteria, so the surgery needs to be performed as hygienically as possible. Also, the scarring tissue that will form on the inside and outside of the urinary bladder following the surgery might take some time to heal and will never recover to its original structure. Your dog might thus have a somewhat smaller urine capacity, requiring more visits outdoors, simply because holding it in will become more uncomfortable.
These days, there is another procedure that can sometimes be performed depending on the area you live in and whether or not it is available there. It’s called ultrasonic dissolution, and it has been used in humans for quite some time now. However, this one can only be utilized when the removal of the urate bladder stones does not have to happen urgently.
Prevention of urate bladder stones in dogs
If your dog is any of the breeds we have mentioned at the beginning of this article, you have no way of preventing this health complication other than by feeding them a special diet from the day they are born.
Ensuring that your dog drinks plenty of water and has access to wet (cans or pouches) food varieties is one way of ensuring that they eliminate enough urine so as to prevent the stones from developing in the first place.
If your dog was diagnosed with urate bladder stones in the past, taking them to the vet clinic for check-ups twice or even three times a year can prevent another emergency.