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Bladder Stones in Dogs and Cats

dog with bladder stone

What are Bladder Stones?

These are aggregations of minerals and other substances in the bladder. Both the symptoms of bladder stones in cats and dogs, as well as the types of bladder stones can vary. If you think your pet may have bladder stones, it’s best to schedule an appointment with their veterinarian as soon as possible.

Causes and Types of Bladder Stones in Dogs


Struvite stones (triple magnesium phosphate), occur in the presence of bladder infections. Female dogs are more predisposed to struvite stones than males.

Struvite type of bladder stones in dogs

Struvite stone

Calcium oxalate stones occur with higher frequency in certain breeds of dogs. These breeds include the Miniature Schnauzer, Shih Tzu, Bichon Frise, Lhasa Apso, Yorkshire Terrier, and Miniature Poodle. They may also develop as a result of other diseases, such as hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s disease) or hypercalcemia (high blood calcium).

Calcium oxalate bladder stones

Calcium oxalate stones

Urate stones occur with liver problems, such as portosystemic vascular shunts and other inherited defects of the liver.


Uric stones


A complex interaction between the animal’s diet and stone formation affects the development of bladder stones in cats. The two most common types of bladder stones in cats are calcium oxalate stones and struvite stones. Calcium oxalate stones occur more frequently with acidic urine, while struvite stones are more likely to develop in alkaline urine. Urate stones are uncommon in cats and are usually associated with liver or vascular shunts. Other types of bladder stones are rare in cats.

What are the Clinical Signs of Bladder Stones?

Dogs: Some of the symptoms include frequent urination, urinating urgently, small volumes of urine, and painful urination. Blood may occur throughout the urine stream or may be worse at the end. Bladder stones may become lodged in the urethra, causing a blockage. Urinary obstruction from stones is more common in male dogs.

Cats: Symptoms of bladder stones in cats include frequent trips to the litter box, small volumes of urine, blood in the urine, pain during urination, and urinating outside the litter box. Like in dogs, bladder stones may lodge in the urethra causing a complete urinary obstruction. Urinary obstruction is more common in male cats.

Important: Signs of obstruction include abdominal pain and straining to urinate without producing any urine. Just remember that urinary obstruction is an emergency and requires immediate attention from a veterinarian!


What are the Diagnostic Tests?

The diagnostic tests for all types of bladder stones in dogs and cats include routine blood and urine tests. Also, abdominal ultrasound and X-rays may be needed in addition to the other tests.

Which are the Treatment Options for Bladder Stones?

The diet plays an important role with some bladder stones. For example, struvite stones can often be dissolved by a special prescription diet for your pet. However, your pet must eat the prescription diet exclusively. Unfortunately, calcium oxalate stones cannot be dissolved with dietary changes or medication. The only effective therapy is the physical removal of the stones. With other types of stones, medications may be able to dissolve them.

How Can I Take Care of a Dog or Cat with Different Types of Bladder Stones?

Depending on the type of bladder stone, diet changes may be necessary. It can be a homemade diet formulated by a veterinarian or a commercial prescription diet. Also, if surgery is necessary, preventive measures such as including moist food may be advised. Generally, the prognosis for bladder stones in cats and dogs is excellent.