Bladder stones and crystals are a big problem for both cats and dogs in Hong Kong, and are one of the most common reasons for surgical intervention.
Poorly balanced pet diets are notorious for being very high in magnesium and phosphorus, and when large amounts of these minerals are released into the bladder they can crystallize and form stones. Over time these stones grow and can eventually become very large – up to the size of an orange. Bladder stones cause irritation and discomfort to the bladder, and can cause blockage of the urine leaving the bladder. This is a potentially life threatening problem.
A high quality diet, appropriately chosen for your pet’s age and breed, will prevent bladder stones in nearly all cases. Both dry food and wet (canned) foods are safe, as long as they are balanced and nutritious. We carry a range of diets specifically formulated with stone prevention in mind. Some great balanced diets for cats that will help prevent the formation of bladder stones can be found here. If caught early, some stones can also be dissolved using a special diet prescribed by your veterinarian. Urinary diets can be found here.
Cats with urinary tract issues should also be encouraged to drink more water. There are couple of easy ways to do this - one is to give your cat some canned food with his regular diet, as this will increase the amount of moisture consumed. The second is to buy a water fountain which will encourage pets to drink more water. A selection of water fountains can be found here.
We would also recommend a good balanced supplement, preferably containing glucosamine, which has been shown to help coat the bladder and prevent crystal and stone formation. An excellent supplement can be found here.
Common signs of bladder stones include blood in the urine, passing small amounts of urine frequently or difficulty urinating. If you see any of these signs you should discuss with your vet immediately. During examination your vets will feel for stones, and in some cases an x-ray or ultrasound may be required. Animals with stones usually need to have them removed surgically, and are then placed on a special diet to prevent new stones from forming. This is a very treatable problem but if left unchecked it can become extremely serious.