My male cat frequently visits the litterbox and I’m noticing a decrease in urine. Should I be concerned?
If your dog or cat is straining to urinate, urinating more frequently or has bloody urine, he or she may have bladder stones. The most common types of stones are struvite, calcium oxalate and urate. Struvite stones often form in patients who have recurrent bladder infections. Calcium oxalate stones are often the result of genetics, certain underlying illnesses or excessive calcium or oxalate in the diet. Urate stones are common in Dalmatians and are the result of a genetic defect in which the breed lacks an enzyme needed to break down uric acid.
Both male and female cats and dogs can form bladder stones; however, in males, the stones may become lodged in the urethra causing an obstruction which can cause serious illness and even death.
How does your veterinarian know your pet has a bladder stone? A urinalysis may show blood or crystals in the urine but stones are typically diagnosed by taking an x-ray of the bladder.
Once the diagnosis has been made, your pet will most likely need surgery to remove the stones. If the pet has struvite stones, a special diet may be used to try to dissolve the stones. Calcium oxalate and urate stones do not dissolve and must be surgically removed.
Once the stones have been removed, we focus on preventing new stones from forming. Your veterinarian may recommend checking periodic urine samples for infections or crystals and perhaps repeating x-rays several times a year. Controlling urine pH and promoting dilute urine can be achieved by using one of several prescription canned diets and encouraging the pet to drink more water. Sometimes medications are also added to control the urine pH. Urate stones are prevented with medication called allopurinol.
Bladder stones can be frustrating and can cause serious complications for your pet. If your pet does develop stones, timely treatment, surgery if needed, and steps to prevent recurrence of stones can help your pet continue to lead a happy, healthy life.
Thomas Schaeberle, VMD