Bladder Stone / Urinary Tract Infections
One of the more common conditions seen in dogs and cats is urinary tract disease/infection. In dogs, true infections occur more commonly than inflammatory conditions. Research shows that younger cats rarely have true infections but typically have inflammatory conditions. Older cats tend to have true infections as dogs do. The most common clinical signs of a UTI is increased frequency or attempts to urinate but with a minimal production of urine. The urine may appear normal in color or may show discoloration that could represent blood. Diagnosis is through obtaining urine and testing it along a reagent strip.
Urinary tract infections are treated with 1-2 weeks of antibiotics to clear the infection. A two week injectable antibiotic is now available for convenience. Increasing fluid intake will help flush the bladder and relieve discomfort.
Bladder stones develop as the body inefficiently processes minerals. The composition of the two most common stones are calcium oxylate and magnesium/ammonium/phosphate (struvite). Both stones occur with the same frequency. Struvite stones occur in the face of infections and an alkaline urine environment. Calcium oxylate stones form in a more acidic urine. Struvite stones can be dissolved by removing the bacteria as well as acidifying the urine. Calcium oxylate stones, however, must be surgically removed. Dietary management is the cornerstone preventative therapy. The goal is to reduce the minerals that comprise these stones.
Bladder stones can possibly be diagnosed through physical examination if the stones are large enough. In all cases, though, radiographs (x-rays) are necessary to determine size and amount as well as to rule out other intrabdominal issues. Although struvite stones can be dissolved, the length of time needed for dissolution may be too excessive. Radiographs alone cannot distinguish struvite from calcium oxylate stones. Once removed, the stones should be submitted to a laboratory to identify the mineral composition of the stones so that an appropriate diet can be instituted.