While it’s uncomfortable to think about, pets are prone to bladder stones just like humans. These calcifications of minerals in the bladder form hard, stone-like structures that can lead to obstructions in the urinary tract. Painful and dangerous, these stones sometimes require a surgical procedure called a cystotomy for removal.
At VetNaturally in Mandeville, LA, we offer cystotomies for cats and dogs with bladder stones as part of our conventional veterinary services. We will then test the stones’ composition to determine the cause and help adjust your pet’s diet and habits to reduce the chances of recurrence. Contact us immediately if you believe your pet may have bladder stones or a urinary obstruction.
What Is a Cystotomy?
A cystotomy is a surgical procedure during which a veterinarian evaluates your pet’s bladder and urethra to remove obstructions, including bladder stones, tumors, or other blockages in the urethra or bladder. It is crucial to schedule one as soon as you find a problem, as blockages in the urethra lead to pain, infection, or death for your pet.
If the bladder stones are small, one of our veterinarians can prescribe a special diet and antibiotics to break up the stones and get them to pass. If this doesn’t work, you may need to bring your pet in to discuss performing a cystotomy.
The Cystotomy Procedure
We will first do a pre-surgical workup to determine whether your pet is a good candidate for anesthesia and ensure there are no active infections or other issues that could lead to complications.
Then, we will anesthetize your pet and prepare them for surgery, starting with shaving and cleaning the area where we will make the incision.
After making the incision, we will look for obstructions in the bladder and urethra and take steps to remove them, preserving the stones for compositional testing in the lab.
When we finish removing the stones, we will suture the wound closed and send you home with care instructions for your pet.
Pet Care After a Cystotomy
Your pet may feel the effects of the anesthesia for up to 48 hours after the surgery. Keeping your pet in a calm environment with less space to potentially hurt themselves is ideal, such as a small room in your home or a crate (if your pet is crate trained).
You must keep the incision site clean and dry by restraining your pet from licking their suture line with a cone. You can also reduce pain or discomfort by administering an anti-inflammatory pain medication as recommended in your home care instructions.
Your pet might lose their appetite after the cystotomy. Offer food and water, but look for signs of nausea. Signs of nausea may include: decreased appetite, lethargy, licking lips, excessive drooling. Your pet’s normal appetite should return within 24-48 hours.
The suture line should look the same throughout healing, although some bruising may occur. Bring your pet back for a follow-up visit if you notice bleeding, oozing, separation, or other changes. Your pet will take approximately 10-14 days to heal fully.
Preventing Recurrence of Bladder Stones
If you have a male dog or cat, they have a higher risk of developing bladder stones than female pets. Certain types of stones are also more common in cats than dogs, as well as in specific breeds. Struvite stones are the most common type in dogs, with a 50% prevalence. Calcium oxalate stones have a 50-70% prevalence in cats.
Other stones include urate stones, cystine stones, and silicate stones. Determining the type of stone in a lab can help us recommend dietary changes to reduce recurrence.