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Ureter Stones in Dogs

Ureterolithiasis in Dogs

Ureterolithiasis, a condition found in dogs, involves the formation of stones that can block the ureter—a muscular tube linking the kidney to the bladder and responsible for transporting urine. Typically, these stones originate in the kidneys and may descend into the ureter.

The size and shape of the stone determine whether it can pass into the bladder smoothly or cause partial or complete obstruction of the ureter. In cases of obstruction, the upper part of the ureter dilates, leading to potential kidney damage.

Various types of stones can be found in dogs, with the specific type varying according to factors such as breed, age, and sex of the dog.

Symptoms

Ureterolithiasis may present without noticeable symptoms, particularly in its early phases. However, it’s crucial to remain vigilant for the following signs:

  • Pain
  • Kidney failure
  • Enlargement or shrinkage of the kidney
  • Accumulation of waste products such as urea
  • Rupture of the ureter, leading to urine accumulation in the abdomen

Causes

The causes of ureterolithiasis can vary depending on the type of stone involved. Common underlying factors include:

  • Genetic predisposition
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Adverse drug reactions
  • Cancer
  • Dietary factors and/or supplements
  • Surgical procedures that result in narrowing or scarring of the ureter

Diagnosis

Your veterinarian will begin by taking a comprehensive medical history and conducting a physical examination of your dog. Subsequently, routine laboratory tests, including complete blood count, biochemistry profile, electrolyte panel, and urinalysis, will be performed to assess your dog’s condition and the severity of the disease. These tests also aid in identifying any concurrent diseases or conditions your pet may have.

Abdominal X-rays are highly effective in visualizing stones and determining their size. They also help confirm whether the kidney has enlarged due to the presence of stones and whether the ureter is intact or ruptured. In certain cases, a special dye may be intravenously injected before taking X-rays to enhance contrast and provide better visualization of the stones. Additionally, ultrasound scans are another method used to detect ureter stones and evaluate kidney size.

Treatment

The primary objective of treatment is to remove the obstructing stones. Fortunately, modern technological advances have enabled veterinarians to achieve this without resorting to surgery. A novel technique known as extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy is used to remove stones located in the kidney, ureter, or bladder. This procedure involves the use of shockwaves to break apart the stones, allowing them to be passed through the urine. However, it’s important to note that extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy may not be suitable for all animals, so it’s advisable to consult with your veterinarian to determine if it’s the right option for your dog.

For dogs requiring surgical intervention, intravenous fluids are administered to maintain hydration levels. Additionally, antibiotics are prescribed for dogs with concurrent urinary tract infections.

Living and Management

Given the common occurrence of relapses, ongoing monitoring of the dog’s condition is essential. Follow-up evaluations are typically scheduled every 3-6 months. Depending on the type of stone, your veterinarian may recommend dietary adjustments to prevent future episodes of stone formation. If your dog experiences difficulty tolerating the dietary changes, it’s important to contact your veterinarian for necessary modifications.

The overall prognosis varies significantly depending on the type of stones involved.

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