Canine bladder stones
July 20, 2013 6:04 PM   Subscribe

This is Roxy. This is Roxy's enormous bladder stone.

The vet gave us the option of trying special food for a month and then surgery if that doesn't work, or surgery sooner than that. I'm all dude, seriously, there is no way that thing is going away on its own. But the timing is really crappy, as my husband and I both have to be out of town for work early next week, and I am working out of town during most of every week, so it's going to be at least 5-6 days before we can do the surgery.

The vet has sold us a case of Hill's s/d and put her on another round of antibiotics (we just finished the first round for what we thought was just a UTI). We first noticed some incontinence about 7 weeks ago, but she was in the middle of a round of prednisone for really bad allergies and we all thought it was a side effect.

I think surgery is inevitable, but I'd like to hear from anyone who's dealt with canine bladder surgery so I can try to anticipate what recovery is going to be like. Basically everything in my house is already soaked in pee, so more incontinence is not a huge deal at this point. (I just got home late last night after a week away and have been doing laundry since 9am because my husband...I don't know, there are a lot of things he doesn't notice. Possibly if she'd peed on his side of the bed, it would have registered.) He works at home 98% of the time, so there will be someone here with her all the time after surgery, but we have two other dogs and I don't want to stick him with a difficult recovery all alone.

She's a fairly chill dog. Her stoicism is clearly a problem, as we only had the faintest idea there was something wrong until she started unmistakably peeing on the carpet. Keeping her quiet won't be a massive undertaking. We already keep her separated from the other lady dog in the house for reasons, so she can be confined to a room or the other dogs can be kept out of the way so she can have open-door access to the back yard.

Or, if someone wants to tell me that their dog also had a bladder stone the size of a large pack of gum and diet alone fixed it right up, I'll take that too. But we've nicknamed the stone Jesus Christ because...Jesus Christ. The vet's technical term was "huuuuuge". It looks like she ate a roll of gauze. Apparently there are multiple stages of stones, and they don't immediately calcify and that's why this might go away with diet, but I just find it really hard to believe this one will. I am curious if we're going to be feeding her s/d for the rest of her life now, though.
posted by Lyn Never to Pets & Animals (9 answers total)
Best answer: Poor Roxy! This site indicates "S/D is restricted in protein, so it is not a complete diet for long term use in dogs." They also recommend 2 months of this diet+antibiotics before deciding on surgery.

Frequent bathroom breaks are recommended post op to facilitate healing.
posted by txtwinkletoes at 6:43 PM on July 20, 2013

Best answer: My dog Olive is a 14 pound scruff terrier and had a bladder stone the size of a grape - we both said Jesus Christ when the vet showed us the xray. The size of the stone looked comparable proportionally to Roxy's.

We gave her the special medicated diet and extra water on her food to help dissolve the stone and help increase her fluid intake. After a month the stone was noticeably smaller - after 3 months it was gone. We kept her on the medicated food for a bit longer just to be sure, but then transitioned her back to her regular stuff. We did not have to go through surgery.

So yes, medicated food can correct the PH balance of the urine and dissolve the stone to a passable size. It's possible that there are layers of the stone that are not dissolvable, but I felt it was worth trying the food for a month before moving to surgery.
posted by rhapsodie at 6:45 PM on July 20, 2013

Best answer: Oh, God love it. I was here with my dachshund just about a year ago. We had this amount of stone in a 14-pound weiner dog. The special diet did not work to dissolve the stones, or if it did, I can't imagine how much stone there had been in the first place.

Surgery was rough on her. She had an enormous scar and was clearly in a lot of pain post-op, with a lot of crying. Even so, the effect on her incontinence was immediate. It only took a few days for her to get back to some semblance of normal bathroom breaks, with no blood in her urine. In a couple of weeks, she was just about herself again.

Now she's doing very well. The only lasting effect is that the vet has her on a permanent urinary food diet. I don't like paying $60 for about 48 days' worth of dog food that I have to pre-order, and your dog, being bigger, will probably eat more than mine. But she's my girl and there it is, so I do it. Your vet may also have different advice as to what Roxy will need.

Best of luck to you, and many hugs to your dog.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:50 PM on July 20, 2013

Best answer: She had an enormous scar and was clearly in a lot of pain post-op, with a lot of crying.

There's no way you could know this ahead of time, but severe post-op pain isn't necessary. You can and should talk to the vets about their post-op pain control protocols. I'll try to remember to bug biscotti (who works at the Animal Pain Management Center, where their dog and cat patients probably get better pain control than most humans) about what are good things to hear and what are some "Thanks, but I'll ask around somewhere else" signs.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:29 PM on July 20, 2013

Best answer: What kind of bladder stones are they? A relative's dog had reasonably large struvite bladder stones and diet cleared them up completely with no need for surgery. Also, the pooch in question didn't need to stay on the special food permanently.

As an aside: clearly you have a good vet (ie. doesn't jump to the surgery option immediately, unless it is truly needed). Take their advice and try the diet option. They're trying to spare your dog the trauma of a general anaesthetic.
posted by Alice Russel-Wallace at 9:07 PM on July 20, 2013

Best answer: re: pain control - I've been through two major surgeries (limb amputation, and uh, then they had to take part of his pelvis with the 2nd cancer) with my cat and both times they gave him a fentanyl patch, which was absolutely the best thing ever.

Apparently people who have kids have had issues with their kids yanking off the patch and eating it? Which seems insane to me, but I don't have kids so . . . no idea. Seems like y'all are kid free at the moment so probably not a concern. Also, our other cat did not bother him about it at all, but I guess other pets COULD - seems like you are already keeping her away from your other dog, so again, probably fine. Ask about it.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:16 AM on July 21, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! I am at least in a better mood now that I've seen that Roxy loooves the s/d, and that stuff is so dense I can get at least half a can of water mixed into it. She's one of those dogs who only drinks twice a day, though she drinks for a couple of minutes each time, and I worry about her hydration.

I'm going to talk to the vet today or tomorrow to see if she knows what kind of stones they are. I didn't know there was a difference until I started googling.

If we end up having surgery (and thanks to your replies I'm willing to wait 1-2 months IF the incontinence at least improves, because now that I've done all the laundry I can see how bad it is, I think she leaked pretty much constantly the entire time she was asleep last night) I am going to insist on the fentanyl patch. She's difficult to pill on a good day, tramadol tastes too bad to sneak into yogurt (our normal routine), and I want her too wasted to bark at the mail carrier for a couple of days.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:19 AM on July 21, 2013

Roxy is cool. I hope she's rock-free and feeling better very soon.
posted by aryma at 7:30 PM on July 21, 2013

Response by poster: Update: my husband scheduled surgery for the 31st but forgot to schedule boarding for when we're out of town this week, and now the vet is full. In calling around to other vets this morning (I only wanted her boarded at a vet, given the circumstances), we found one that would not only board her, but offered to do the surgery today and board her until we get back. They offered a significantly better surgical plan than the first vet for the same price, including IV hydration and pain meds (not included with the first vet), and they have nothing but 5-star reviews on Yelp.

So I think we have a new vet, and Roxy will be on the mend right away. Thanks for the answers and messages, everyone.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:26 PM on July 22, 2013

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