Although not an extremely common finding, kidney stones can occur in our pets. They are caused by a build-up of minerals in the kidney. The small mineralization formed from naturally occurring substances in the body deposits in the kidney with potential to grow.
Although kidney stones have the potential to cause problems, they can also exist with little to no consequence. The different mineral concentrations of kidney stones can often determine the cause. Causes include but are not limited to dietary factors and previous urinary tract infection.
Clinical signs of kidney stones include abdominal pain, straining when urinating and blood in the urine. Kidney stones can often be seen on radiographs. Monitoring of a patient with kidney stones is important to track kidney function and mineral growth. The decision to remove kidney stones should be considered carefully because of the long term damage potentially caused by surgery.
It is possible for certain stones to be dissolved thorough specially formulated veterinary diets. After being on a special diet for a period of time radiographs should be repeated to see if the mineralization has changed. If the stone is of lesser size then continuation of the diet is indicated. If the stone is the same size or larger then it will need to be decided whether to pursue further treatment or not.
Surgical removal is an option. In this procedure irreversible damage is induced. In some cases though, the benefit of surgery may outweigh the damage done by the stone remaining.
Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy is another treatment option. This is a minimally invasive procedure with no incision necessary. During this procedure kidney stones are crushed into very small fragments. The hope is that then the fragments will be able to pass through the ureter and into the bladder to pass out of the body. A list of facilities that offer this treatment follows.