Hey there Georgie Girl (Shih Tzu with Bladder Stones)

Georgie Girl is a gorgeous 4 year old Shih-tzu who visited the clinic a month ago because she was straining to pass bloody coloured urine. She had been treated previously at another veterinary clinic for a urinary tract infection during the previous several months.

Examination of Georgie revealed that she was quite uncomfortable in her lower belly and a thickened hard round structure could be felt in the region where the bladder is usually found.

Tests on her urine at the clinic confirmed infection and inflammation (accounting for the blood stained urine) and the pH of her urine was very alkaline- common with many types of urinary tract infections. Using a pathology machine, her urine was spun down to look for any traces of crystal or abnormal cells- none were found. The next question that we posed ourselves was ‘Why was Georgie getting recurrent urinary tract infections?' This sent us on a path of investigation, the first step of which was x-rays of her bladder.

X-rays confirmed our suspicions of bladder stones - 2 large stones were evident on x-rays and explained what we were feeling on our exam. The most common type of bladder stones in female dogs (struvite) can often be dissolved by a special prescription diet (Hills prescription S/D diet) and so Georgie started on this with plans to test her urine regularly to gauge our success. For the stones to dissolve we needed to get the urine to a specific pH and make it very dilute.

After a few weeks of continuing this path we had not yet achieved our target urine goals. Georgie was increasingly uncomfortable and becoming more incontinent. Some hard decisions had to be made- either to continue in this manner or to undertake abdominal surgery to remove the bladder stones.

Georgie's owners bravely consented to surgery and Georgie produced 2 large bladder stones- both about the size of macadamia nuts, quite a feat for a little girl weighing under 6 kilos herself! Georgie recovered very well from the surgery and immediately improved in her urination patterns and general spirits Her bladder stones were sent off for analysis to clearly ascertain why she developed them in the first place. The analysis determined that they were of a mixed type and as such the diet wouldn't have been entirely successful so the decision to proceed with surgery was ultimately for the best.

From here, we need to closely monitor Georgie's urine- we need to make sure that her urine is kept very dilute and in a certain ph range to hopefully minimise the chances of the stones reforming. It has been said of dogs (and people) who have had bladder or kidney stones "once a stone maker, always a stone maker" so constant monitoring and management is the key to control.