One of the recurring and ongoing problems that can occur in the modern dog or cat is the presence of crystals (crystaluria) or stones (uroliths) in the bladder.


In some cases the cause of these problems is easily found – poor diet, restricted water intake or urinary infections – but in other situations there is no obvious reason for the crystals or stones being present. These cases are called ‘idiopathic’ and are the most frustrating to deal with, particularly in cats.


Symptoms vary from animal to animal; in some cases the owner may notice blood in their pet’s urine, while in others the animal may develop incontinence. In serious and life-threatening cases the animal may obstruct and be unable to pass urine. This situation is an emergency and veterinary attention should always be sought if your animal appears distressed and unable to pass urine.


Depending on the severity of the problem, there are several ways that it can be solved. In non-obstructed animals it may be possible to dissolve the crystals or stones with dietary changes. In some cases the stones may not be dissolvable and require surgical removal. In emergency cases clearing the urethra is always essential and this may sometimes require opening the bladder to flush small stones out of it.


Following removal it is necessary to carefully monitor an animal’s urine to ensure that the same problem is not recurring – and sometimes it happens again even with careful management.


As with most illnesses in animals it is easier to prevent a problem from happening rather than treat it when it does. Feed your animals a good quality diet and ensure that there is always access to water. Most animals prefer to have several sources of water – in fact that dirty puddle is far more appealing to drink than the nice fresh water you provide them with daily!


If you have any concerns regards your animal’s water works don’t hesitate to give your vet a ring and get them checked over.


Written by: Suzanne Craig BVCs - Small Animal Vet, based at Balclutha and used in the local newspaper (The Leader) in the monthly Pet Corner section.