Bladder Stones / Urinary Tract Infections

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. 

Upper Respiratory Disease

One of the most common conditions that our cats have is upper respiratory disease. The usual etiology is a virus. The most common URT virus is Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis which is a herpes virus. This virus is said to be ubiquitous in the feline population and has been estimated that close to 80% of cats harbor this virus. Humans have a similar herpes virus that usually manifests as a cold sore or fever blister. Although the human and cat herpes virus is very species specific, they can share some similarities. Just as stress can cause people to break out with fever blisters, stress is typically implicated in leading to a break out with cold-like symptoms in the cat. Once a cat contracts the FVR virus, either from the mother or just casual contact with an infected cat, the virus lives in the nerves of the face and recrudesces during periods of stress. This virus will persist for life. Although this is a virus, secondary bacterial infections can occur which warrant appropriate antibiotic therapy. Occasional steroid therapy may be necessary to help with excess congestion. 

Vaccine therapy is designed to reduce the risk of disease that upper respiratory viruses can lead to. The vaccine includes the FVR virus as well as several other viruses.  We recommend this vaccine for every cat that live in either indoors or outdoors. Those cats that have recurrent upper respiratory disease should receive the vaccine in attempts to lessen the course as well as suppress the virus. The virus typically runs its course within 7-10 days.