Believe it or not, dogs get bladder stones
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By Mickey Zeldes  May 16, 2014 12:00 am

How many dogs have you known that have had bladder stones? Me neither!

I had never heard of it until last month when we got not one, but two dogs with this medical condition. What do you think the chances are that a small shelter would get two dogs in a row with bladder stones? Weird coincidence?

Bladder stones might be more common than any of us previously thought. According to WebMD “Most bladder stones are struvites (that is, they’re composed of magnesium ammonium phosphate). They form in an alkaline urine and are usually preceded by a bladder infection.” There are several other types of stones, and the only way to definitively know which kind you are dealing with is to have one removed and analyzed in the laboratory.

How did we know the dogs had bladder stones? Symptoms are the same as for a general urinary tract infection (UTI) – frequent urination, sometimes straining to urinate, and you might see blood in the urine. You wouldn’t think of stones, though, unless the symptoms didn’t respond to antibiotics. One of the dogs, a miniature poodle named Bella, had so many stones that you could actually feel them through her skin. The other dog, a 5-month-old pup named Sequoia, was frequently peeing. We just chalked up her accidents to her youth until someone saw blood in her urine and an x-ray revealed a stone.

The stones cause constant irritation to the bladder, hence the blood. The real problem with stones is if they are small enough, or a piece breaks off, it could completely block the urethra, which could be life-threatening as the bladder could burst. Living with the constant pain and irritation is no fun either, as anyone who has had a bladder infection will attest.

Working at the shelter, you pick up on lots of animal care tips. One of our volunteers who knew the story about these two dogs was visiting a friend recently and noticed her dog was peeing frequently, and she saw some blood in the urine. The friend admitted to some frustration as the dog was on her second round of antibiotics and the UTI she was being treated for hadn’t cleared up. Our volunteer told her friend about the dogs at the shelter with bladder stones. And on the next trip to the vet, she requested an x-ray. Sure enough, her dog had stones.

There are a few options to treat bladder stones. Since in a shelter environment you don’t have the luxury of time to try a special diet to see if it could dissolve the stones, we opted for surgery. Once the stones are removed, the inflammation would decrease and the symptoms would subside. But the animal would have to be kept on a special diet for the rest of her life to keep the Ph balance corrected and prevent more stones from forming.

Needless to say, having two animals back to back that required a major surgery like this cost the Animal Shelter League a pretty penny and really drained their medical fund. Any donations for Bella’s and Sequoia’s surgeries would be very much appreciated and would ensure that funds would be available for the next animal that needs medical care. Go to and click on the donate button. Bella and Sequoia thank you!

Upcoming events 

Summer Camp: Registration is now open for our popular Kidz ‘n Critter summer camp program. We are offering seven one-week sessions of fun for kids in grades 2-7. Check out the complete schedule and download an application at or stop by the shelter to pick one up.

Fix-it clinics: Free cat spay/neuter surgeries and low-cost dog altering for low-income residents of Rohnert Park and Cotati. Call 588-3531 for an appointment.


Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at

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