Canine Bladder Stone Surgery

By Tess Thompson

Bladder stones are a common occurrence in domestic pets. Bladder stones can exist in various sizes and numbers, and are normally secondary to canine and feline urinary infection, dietary influences, and genetics. The biggest factor in stone formation is the over-saturation of urine with crystals.

If your dog has a partially or totally blocked bladder or a urethra with bladder stones, there are a number of treatment options that exist. Small stones can be dissolved by feeding a diet that contains dissolving agents. These diets also help in urination, or a procedure called urohydropropulsion. If the cause behind bladder stones is a urinary tract infection in , there is a need for antibiotic therapy. A diet that enables dissolving of bladder stones is also necessary with the therapy that is prescribed. However, there are certain types of stones that can only be removed surgically.

Cystotomy is the term given to the surgical opening of the bladder. It is commonly performed for removing bladder stones in dogs and cats. Anesthesia in animals, although similar to human anesthesia, is somewhat different. General anesthesia is commonly used for major surgeries, and animals are often pre-medicated with a sedative before administering the intravenous drug.

Cystotomy involves an incision in the abdomen and the bladder is brought out through the opening. Care is taken to keep the incision as small as possible to minimize anesthetic time. The incision needs to be small also to prevent rupture of the healing bladder when it gets distended with urine after it is placed back post surgery. After that, two stay sutures are placed to hold the bladder in place while outside the abdomen.

A bladder that has stones in it appears thicker than its normal appearance due to the presence of stones, but the bladder tissue is still delicate, and care needs to be taken during the surgery to avoid harm. The veterinarian may use this opportunity to examine the bladder lining and take samples for culture and biopsy, if necessary.

The bladder is then placed back in the abdomen and sutured properly. The sutures need to be strong enough to hold the bladder in place, while at the same time, gentle enough to ensure that the bladder heals quickly.

Despite successful surgery, the need for prevention is critical. Normal urine is sterile, but bacteria that enters through the urethra can cause urinary infections and ultimately disturb pH of the urine once again. Some types of bacterium need less than two weeks in the urinary tract to form bladder stones all over again. Bladder stones and UTIs in puppies may be genetically driven, and require proper attention to diet right from the time you bring a young dog home.


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