“Between a Rock and a Hard Place”

(Cystic Calculi-Bladder Stones)


Puffy is a female, spayed 7 year old Bichon who presented to our hospital for straining to urinate. When outside, she would attempt to urinate several times in a row but would only urinate a few drops each time. She was also mildly incontinent and dribbling out small amounts of bloody urine. Puffy had a history of inappropriate urination several years prior.

Examination revealed a healthy dog except for a large, hard mass that was palpable in the area of the bladder. Radiographs (x-rays) revealed a thickened, distended bladder full of calculi or uroliths (bladder stones). Puffy’s blood work was unremarkable.
Stones in the bladder can form secondary to many causes including diet, breed predisposition (Dalmatians, mini Schnauzers, Lhasa apsos, Yorkies, Bichons, Shih Tzus, and mini Poodles) and water intake. They are a painful condition for pets and can cause many types of urinary problems including infections, incontinence and most seriously, complete blockage. They can occur not only inside the bladder but also in the kidneys, ureters or urethra. Patients can urinate out some small stones, but the large ones must be removed surgically. Usually they must be diagnosed with a radiograph or ultrasound.
Puffy underwent a procedure called a cystotomy. This procedure involves opening the bladder, removing all stones, flushing out any blood clots, and closing the bladder wall tightly to ensure no leakage. An x-ray is taken after surgery to ensure no stones remain. A total of 55 uroliths were extracted from Puffys distended bladder. She was kept hospitalized on fluids, antibiotics, and pain medications until normal urination was confirmed.


Cystic calculi can occur in pets of varying species, ages, breeds, and sex. If your pet is straining to urinate, has bloody urine, or squatting repeatedly with little urine production, have your veterinarian assess your pet for bladder stones or other possible urinary illnesses. If your pet has cystic calculi, it may need to a cystotomy in addition to a possible diet change too.