Gypsy's Bladder Stones


Gypsy is a 5 year old female spayed Lab mix canine who presented with a history of an increased frequency of urination (polakiuria). A normally well housetrained dog, Gypsy recently had some urinary accidents in the house which made her owners concerned. The only significant change in her behavior was that Gypsy woke her owners up an hour or so early in the morning to be walked.

On physical exam, Gypsy was an excited, happy, healthy looking dog. A urine analysis was performed, which showed multiple crystals in Gypsy’s urine. Gypsy’s owners agreed to schedule radiographs of her bladder, which were subsequently taken.

These X Ray images show a very irregular, prominent urinary bladder with multiple oval to round shaped opacities of various sizes completely filling the bladder. Based on this abnormal appearance, an abdominal ultrasound was recommended, to confirm the presence of bladder stones and to assess Gypsy’s overall health. The ultrasound image confirmed that the densities seen on radiographs were in fact bladder stones.

X-ray 1
X-ray 2


Because of the large number of stones present, surgery was recommended as the only viable option to remove the stones. After consulting with Gypsy’s owners, bladder surgery was scheduled and then performed several days later.
Surgery to remove urinary bladder stones involves first opening up the abdomen (celiotomy), followed by cutting open the bladder (cystotomy). Care has to be taken to prevent urine from leaking into the abdomen when the bladder is opened up. Below are a pictures taken during surgery of the incredible number of stones found inside Gypsy’s bladder!!

Removing StonesRemoving Stones

Bladder stones (uroliths) are rock like formations of minerals that develop in the urinary bladder. They range in size from large rocks to small grain sized pieces of sand. In Gypsy’s case, a mixture of all sizes were present.

Including all the tiny, medium sized, and large stones, the total number was literally over one thousand stones!! This was the largest amount of stones we at RVG had ever retrieved from a single bladder.

The bladder stones were successfully removed, and Gypsy recovered uneventfully from surgery. She was back up on her feet and feeling well within a day.

Over 1000 StonesOver 1000 Stones

The most common clinical signs of bladder stones in dogs and cats are bloody urine (hematuria), and dysuria (straining to urinate). These signs occur because the stones rub against the bladder wall, causing irritation and bleeding. If the stones flow into the urethra, they may get stuck and cause an obstruction. If urine flow is completely prevented, a life threatening condition ensues. This is actually not uncommon in male dogs and cats with stones, as their urethras are more narrow than in females. Gypsy’s female anatomy certainly helped her to avoid such a situation. Never the less it was just amazing that the only real complaint was that she was waking her owners up for a walk an hour early!

Bladder stones form when various crystalline compounds are in an elevated concentration in the urine. These crystals stick together using mucous as a glue, forming clusters that gradually enlarge and harden into stones. Various factors are at play here. Often the individual’s own metabolism results in a ph that promotes crystal formation. Bacterial infections cause certain stones to form. Diet also plays an important role, and can be used to help prevent future stone formation.


The quickest way to remove bladder stones is through surgery. Although sometimes bladder stones can be dissolved by feeding a specific diet, in Gypsy’s case the stones were too numerous to consider this. Once Gypsy’s stones were removed, they were sent to a laboratory for quantitative analysis, which determined their chemical composition. The results showed the majority of stones to be composed of Magnesium, Amonium, and Phosphate, or struvite stones. Based on this, Gypsy’s was placed on a prescription diet to help prevent the formation of future crystals and stones. The other important reccomendation is to encourage water consumption, as this helps to dilute urinary crystals. Wet food has much more water than dry, and so is always a good idea in animals with a risk for bladder stones.

Today Gypsy is a happy dog, and so are her owners, especially with their extra hour of sleep in the morning!!

© Copyright 2011 RVG. Written by: Derek Fried VMD.