Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

Bladder Stones in Dogs

Bladder stones in dogs can lead to urination problems and pose a life-threatening risk if they obstruct the bladder. Our veterinarians in Lafayette provide comprehensive insights into this condition.

What are bladder stones in dogs?

Bladder stones, also referred to as uroliths or cystic calculi, are mineral formations that can develop in a dog's urinary bladder. They vary in size and shape, ranging from single large stones to collections of smaller ones. These stones can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as gravel.

What are the symptoms & signs of bladder stones?

The most common signs of bladder stones in dogs include:

  • Hematuria (blood in urine)
  • Dysuria (straining to urinate)

Stones rubbing against the bladder wall can cause irritation and tissue damage, leading to bleeding. Dysuria, or painful urination, can result from swelling and inflammation of the urethra or bladder wall, physical obstruction of urine flow, or muscle spasms.

What causes bladder stones in dogs?

Bladder stones form due to the precipitation-crystallization theory, the most widely accepted explanation for their development. Bladder stone formation happens when certain crystalline compounds, often stemming from dietary factors, previous bladder disease, or metabolic issues, are present in high concentrations in the urine.

When urine becomes saturated with these compounds due to its acidity (pH) or specific minerals, tiny crystals can form and irritate the bladder's lining. This irritation prompts mucus production, which adheres to the crystals, causing them to aggregate and solidify into stones over time. The duration of bladder stone formation varies, ranging from a few weeks to several months, depending on the amount of crystalline material present and the extent of infection.

What food causes bladder stones in dogs?

Several types of food can contribute to bladder stone formation in dogs. Common culprits include:

  • Diets high in magnesium, which increase the risk of bladder stone formation
  • Excessive phosphorus in the diet, particularly implicated in the formation of struvite stones
  • While calcium is essential for bone health, excessive amounts can lead to the formation of calcium oxalate stones in the bladder.
  • Protein-rich diets which can produce byproducts that promote bladder stone formation
  • Feeding table scraps, especially those high in fats, can disrupt urinary mineral balance and contribute to stone formation.

It's important to recognize that different dogs may have varying sensitivities to specific foods, and factors such as age, breed, and underlying health conditions can influence stone formation. Therefore, consulting a veterinarian for tailored dietary recommendations is crucial for preventing bladder stones.

Diagnosis of Bladder Stones in Dogs

Symptoms of bladder stones in dogs may resemble cystitis or uncomplicated bladder infection. However, it's important to note that most dogs with bladder stones do not have a bladder infection. Therefore, further investigations may be necessary for an accurate diagnosis.

Palpating the bladder wall may not always suffice for detecting stones, especially if they are small or if the bladder is inflamed. Other methods for detecting bladder stones include X-rays, ultrasonic bladder examination, or ultrasound or radiographic contrast studies.

How to Get Rid of Bladder Stones in Dogs

If your dog is diagnosed with bladder stones, you may wonder, "What dissolves bladder stones in dogs?".

Treatment options typically include:

  • Surgical removal
  • Non-surgical removal by urohydropropulsion
  • Prescription diet and antibiotics

Untreated bladder stones can cause pain and blockages in the bladder neck or urethra, hindering complete bladder emptying and resulting in only small urine squirts. Severe cases can lead to complete obstructions, posing a life-threatening risk. If left unresolved, urinary obstruction can cause bladder rupture, necessitating immediate veterinary attention.

Other Types of Stones

Gallstones form in the gallbladder and contain bile salts, while kidney stones are mineral formations that develop in the kidneys. Bladder stones are distinct from these two types of stones, although inflammation or disease can contribute to stone formation in either the kidneys or bladder.

Is surgery necessary for bladder stones in dogs?

Bladder stones in dogs don't always require surgery. Treatment depends on factors such as stone size and type, the dog's overall health, and whether the stones cause complications like urinary obstruction or recurring infections.

Dietary changes, medications, or non-surgical procedures like lithotripsy (using sound waves to break up stones) may suffice for management. However, surgery may be necessary if the stones are large or causing severe symptoms.

Consulting a veterinarian is essential for determining the most appropriate treatment plan.


The prognosis after bladder stone removal is generally favorable. However, it is crucial to take preventive measures to avoid stone recurrence.

Regular bladder ultrasounds or x-rays every few months can detect potential stone reoccurrence. Veterinarians can eliminate small stones non-surgically through hydropulsion.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet. 

Is your dog having problems urinating? Our vets diagnose and treat many conditions and illnesses. Contact our St. Francis Veterinary Hospital to book an appointment today. 

New patients are always welcome.

We look forward to meeting your beloved pet at St. Francis Veterinary Hospital.

Learn More


151 S Beadle Rd Lafayette LA 70508 US


  • Click to View

    • Monday:07:30 am - 05:30 pm
    • Tuesday:07:30 am - 05:30 pm
    • Wednesday:07:30 am - 05:30 pm
    • Thursday:07:30 am - 05:30 pm
    • Friday:07:30 am - 05:30 pm
    • Saturday:08:00 am - 12:00 pm
    • Sunday:Closed

Book Online (337) 269-4031