When Zaida passed several puddles of urine on the kitchen floor last month, it was completely out of character. She had always been well house trained. Soon after, she started to spend more time crouching to pass urine when out on walks. Next. she passed some blood in her urine: it was time for the vet.
I took a urine sample from Zaida. An instant dipstick test showed that she had cystitis, caused by a urinary tract infection and she was started onto antibiotics. Zaida came back five days later for a review. The cystitis should have been controlled by the antibiotic, but if anything, Zaida was worse than before. She now spent much of her time crouching, trying to pass urine, and she was in discomfort. It was time to investigate her problem in more detail.
I took an x-ray picture of her abdomen. The normal shadows of her abdominal organs showed up clearly, but something else caught my eye: there was a large rectangular white opacity in her bladder. She had one of the biggest bladder stones that I’ve ever seen.
Due to a quirk in their metabolism, some dogs are prone to developing crystals in their urine. Occasionally, these clump together, forming stones that can irritate the lining of the bladder, and these then lead to urinary tract infections. Rarely, those small stones can gather to create a single large bladder stone: that’s what had happened to Zaida. You could see on the xray that the stone measured around 3cm by 4cm. There was no way that Zaida would be able to pass such a huge stone in her urine, so an operation was booked for the next day.
The surgery went well: the stone was removed and sent off for analysis. Zaida made a smooth recovery, and her problems urinating settled down immediately. The only problem that remained was how to ensure that another stone did not develop. Crystals and stones in the urine are directly related to the diet fed to a dog. Depending on the precise type of stone, a special diet can often be fed to prevent the development of new stones.
The stone analysis arrived a week later, confirming that it contained three chemicals: magnesium, ammonia and phosphate, a combination which is known as “struvite”. The good news is that this type of stone can be prevented by feeding a diet that’s low in these chemicals, and also by adding ingredients to ensure that the urine is always mildly acidic.
Zaida has now been started onto a special diet: it comes as a dry biscuit, similar to what she was fed before, but with special ingredients that should ensure that she never has this same problem again.