Alfie was a black and white shih-tsu.
A few days earlier he had started passing strangely flattened motions.
His owners were a bit embarrassed to mention it, but then he began to strain to pass water.
His bladder felt incredibly swollen when I palpated his belly, and I became concerned that he had a blockage in his exit tubing from the bladder (his urethra).
We admitted him as an emergency, sending his owners home. We had to give him a full general anaesthetic before he could relax. His bladder would fill to about 60 millilitres before he would normally feel an urge to tinkle. In the initial decompression of his bladder I was able to syringe out 160 millitres! This must have been eye-poppingly excruciating.
Once the pressure was relieved I moved onto the vital question: why had this happened?
My attempts to pass a catheter up via his manly parts were blocked. An x-ray showed he had lots of stones in his bladder (uroliths), and one of these had tried to pass down the urethra and got stuck. Sometimes a urolith stuck there can be flushed back into the bladder, and easily be removed surgically from there. But this one had been in place for so long, it had really embedded itself. He ended up needing surgery on both his bladder and the urethra before he could urinate again, and unfortunately the tubing was scarred, and he was forced to always pee rather slowly thereafter.
But the question still remained: why had the stones grown at all? And how could we prevent more from re-appearing?
Small breeds of dog are most at risk, and those that fail to empty their bladders regularly. Uroliths may form more often if the pet fails to drink enough, or is given a diet that has high levels of certain minerals. And bladder infection predisposes to the creation of uroliths too. To help Alfie, once he had recovered from his surgeries, we needed to analyse what type of uroliths he had had, address his lifestyle and diet accordingly, and control the infection. It was a long road to recovery.