Monday, November 22, 2010

Ask the Vet, with Dr. Pat: Care and Prevention of Bladder Stones in Dogs

by Pat Bradley, DVM
Stones are No Fun
Dear Dr. Bradley:

My dog is a mix of Swiss mountain dog and who knows what. He's big. I dont' know if that matters but I figured I better let you know. Dandy had a physical this week and the doc told us he had a bladder infection with some little stones. He took antibiotics and the doc told me to watch him for flow each time he goes to the bathroom.

Today he went out and when he lifted his leg nothing came out. He tried a few other spots and had the same thing happen. He finally went inside with his head hanging. Doc told me to call if this happened so we ended up back at the office and Dandy had a blockage at the 'exit point'--not much fun. They had to clear it out in surgery and he's not a happy boy now. I can sympathize with him. I bet it hurts and the lampshade is not much fun either.

My question for you is could there have been another way to prevent or solve this problem? I guess if it was me I would have wanted to be asleep too, but still. Thanks for any input. I just want to know in case it happens again. I sure hope not.

Thank you, Andrew

Dear Andrew,

Ouch! Passing stones is NO FUN, no matter what kind of animal or where the stones are. It sounds like it was a traumatic experience for both you and Dandy, and one you definitely don’t want to repeat!
There are several kinds of stones, so it’s best to find out which kind Dandy has. By far, the most common stone found anywhere in the urinary tract of a dog is one named called “struvite” (rhymes with “stew bite”). The bacterial infection in Dandy’s bladder caused the urine to become alkaline, and struvite stones form in alkaline urine. Alkaline urine is caused by a bunch of different things, but here are the ones that might apply to Dandy.


Bacterial infection? Treat with antibiotics
Diet high in grain and veggies? Feed a diet higher in meat content
Neither of those? Feed a commercial diet made to acidify urine, or you could try one or more of these of these remedies from your local health food store:
  • Apple cider vinegar: add about a tablespoon to his food or water every day. Not too much! A different but just as dangerous type of stone will form in urine that is too alkaline.
  • Cranberry extract: 1 capsule 3 times daily for a large dog.
  • D-Mannose: ½ tsp once or twice daily. The crystals seem to “stick” to this sugar and get washed out of the bladder more easily.
Also make sure he gets plenty of fresh water every day.

If you want to try to monitor his urine yourself, you could order some pH strips that are made for children’s chemistry sets online. A good time to check it is before he eats breakfast in the morning. I’ll let you figure out for yourself how to get Dandy’s urine onto that little piece of paper. Ideally, his urine pH reading on the strip would be between 5 ½ and 7. If it gets much above 7, he’s at risk for making more stones, so taking him to your vet could prevent another surgery.

Good luck!

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Have a question for Dr. Pat? You can reach us at

For a personal consultation about your pet's needs, visit Holistic Veterinary Services.
Dr. Pat's opinion or advice does not replace an actual exam with a veterinarian

Helpful Resources:
pH strips are also often available at health food stores, or you can order an inexpensive package from Amazon, through the ad below.
A Primer on Probioticsl (if taking antibiotics)

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