Know Your Pet’s Blad­der Bet­ter

What ex­actly are uri­nary prob­lems and how do they af­fect our pets?

Clubpets - - YOUR PET & YOU -

Uri­nary tract prob­lems

Uri­nary tract prob­lems are is­sues your pet may face in his or her life­time, rang­ing from a com­mon uri­nary tract in­fec­tion (UTI), to more com­plex and se­vere con­di­tions such as blad­der stones, or can­cer of the blad­der. Uri­nary prob­lems can be­come ex­tremely un­com­fort­able and painful for your pet. How­ever, if you are able to spot the signs early, you may send your pet to the vet­eri­nary clinic for proper treat­ment. With tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ment over the years, min­i­mally in­va­sive pro­ce­dures such as rigid and flex­i­ble en­doscopy have been made avail­able to treat even the most se­vere uri­nary prob­lems with min­i­mum pain and dis­com­fort, re­sult­ing in a speed­ier re­cov­ery.

Com­mon types of uri­nary tract prob­lems

There are three com­mon uri­nary prob­lems that dogs suf­fer from: UTIS, kid­ney or blad­der stones, and blad­der tu­mour. Ac­cord­ing to Dr. Eu­gene Lin, Se­nior Vet­eri­nary Sur­geon at The An­i­mal Ark, five to ten per­cent of the cases that he deals with in dogs are uri­nary tract prob­lems. Fe­male cats are more sus­cep­ti­ble to UTIS while male cats may suf­fer from fe­line uro­log­i­cal syn­drome (FUS) or blocked ure­thra in which the cat is un­able to uri­nate, lead­ing to im­mense pain, and even­tual kid­ney fail­ure and blad­der rup­ture should the syn­drome not be timely treated. Dr. Lin has also treated guinea pigs and rab­bits with blad­der and kid­ney stones. With all pets vul­ner­a­ble to con­tract­ing uri­nary tract prob­lems, it is important for pet own­ers to keep a watch­ful eye on their pets for any odd be­hav­iour that may sig­nal a cry for help.

What causes uri­nary tract prob­lems?

Of all uri­nary tract cases that Dr. Lin deals with, uri­nary tract in­fec­tions are the most com­monly oc­cur­ring. Dr. Lin ex­plained, “The most com­mon uri­nary tract prob­lem is prob­a­bly UTI. The typ­i­cal pre­sen­ta­tions of pet suf­fer­ing from UTI are when the an­i­mal is uri­nat­ing in in­ap­pro­pri­ate places, strain­ing to uri­nate has blood in the urine or when the urine smells un­usu­ally pun­gent.

UTIS are typ­i­cally a re­sult of a pet not drink­ing enough wa­ter, and hence not pass­ing suf­fi­cient urine to flush out bac­te­ria, lead­ing to in­fec­tions. Drink­ing less wa­ter also means pro­duc­ing more con­cen­trated urine, which is more con­ducive for bac­te­rial growth.

For kid­ney and blad­der stones, these oc­cur sim­i­larly due to con­cen­trated urine; min­er­als in the urine crys­tallise coalease, re­sult­ing in the for­ma­tion of ‘stones’ that can range from smooth and pebble-like, to sharp and spikey. Un­for­tu­nately, kid­ney and blad­der stones are known to be a po­ten­tially hered­i­tary dis­ease. When asked if urine tract prob­lems can be passed down,

Dr. Lin con­firms, “pos­si­bly some all of them are hered­i­tary.” UTIS pre­dis­pose pets to cer­tain stone for­ma­tions and your pet’s diet may also con­trib­ute to the for­ma­tion of stones. How­ever, cor­rect­ing your pet’s diet may help to slow down and may even avoid the for­ma­tion of these harm­ful stones. The first step is to know when your pet is show­ing signs of a uri­nary tract prob­lem.

Signs and symp­toms

For UTIS, kid­ney and blad­der stones as well as tu­mours, the symp­toms tend to over­lap. The most com­mon symp­tom would be when your pet starts to uri­nate at in­ap­pro­pri­ate times or places, which sig­ni­fies a lack of con­trol over their blad­der due to pain or par­tial block­age. If their urine con­tains blood or smells strange or con­tains blood, that is also an­other se­ri­ous sign that there is prob­a­bly an is­sue such as an in­fec­tion, or in­ter­nal blad­der bleed­ing from chronic stone ir­ri­ta­tion.

For blad­der block­ages, you will no­tice your pet’s ab­domen start to swell to a huge size. If not treated quickly and your pet is left un­able to uri­nate, it will lead to a kid­ney fail­ure, blad­der rup­ture and even­tual death. Stay­ing alert daily will en­sure that you no­tice signs of dis­tress in your pet as quickly as pos­si­ble.


UTIS, blad­der stones and tu­mours may have sim­i­lar symp­toms, but they are treated dif­fer­ently. For UTIS, vets will need to find out what type of bac­te­ria is in your pet’s urine. They will scan your pet to make sure there’s no tu­mour, ex­tract urine from your pet’s blad­der via a hy­pother­mic nee­dle (cys­to­cen­te­sis), and once the type of bac­te­ria is cul­tured in the lab­o­ra­tory and iden­ti­fied, they can then pre­scribe the ap­pro­pri­ate an­tibi­otic(s).

Since there are var­i­ous types of kid­ney and blad­der stones that can plague your pet. Some stones can be dis­solved nat­u­rally through di­etary changes, while oth­ers have to be re­moved ei­ther through open surgery, or en­doscopy.

Tu­mours are a more se­ri­ous case of uri­nary tract prob­lems, and Dr.

Lin stated, “It is re­ally important to ul­tra­sound scan the an­i­mal’s blad­der be­fore you do any­thing in­va­sive. If the an­i­mal has a sus­pected blad­der tu­mour, it is very important to not em­bark on in­va­sive pro­ce­dures as that may seed the help can­cer cells to other parts of the body.” In­stead, Dr. Lin rec­om­mends cys­toscopy, which is en­doscopy of the uri­nary blad­der via the ure­thra that is car­ried out with a rigid or flex­i­ble en­do­scope. With cys­to­scopic ex­am­i­na­tion, biopsies of sus­pected can­cer cells can be re­trieved with­out in­va­sive mea­sures.

About en­doscopy

En­do­scopic treat­ments for uri­nary prob­lems can be im­ple­mented for stones and tu­mours in pets. A cam­era is in­serted into the an­i­mal’s blad­der via its vulva, through the ure­thra and into the blad­der. For blad­der stones, smaller stones are pulled out of the blad­der with a spe­cial de­vice like a stone bas­ket. If the stone is too big to be ini­tially re­moved, a fi­bre op­tic laser is in­serted to break the stone into smaller pieces to be taken out. This process is done en­tirely through the nat­u­ral ori­fices, so it avoids open­ing up the an­i­mal’s blad­der through an in­ci­sion.

It is not ad­vis­able to stick any nee­dles or open up an an­i­mal’s blad­der if a tu­mour is sus­pected. In­stead, an en­do­scope is in­serted through the ure­thra and into the blad­der to see where the growth is. From there, biopsy sam­ples are re­trieved and sent off for histopathol­ogy test­ing, to es­tab­lish the iden­tity of the mass. If it is be­nign as in the case of a blad­der polyp, the vet can then open up the blad­der and re­move the mass, or break down the mass with laser treat­ments. En­doscopy is thus an im­mensely use­ful pro­ce­dure to en­sure the safety of your pets, while also aid­ing vets in de­ter­min­ing the is­sue your pet is deal­ing with. Dr. Lin be­lieves that if a vet is con­fi­dent of per­form­ing min­i­mally in­va­sive surg­eries safely on a pet, then they should ad­vo­cate such pro­ce­dures. “Smaller in­ci­sion(s) or omis­sion of an in­ci­sion will bet­ter the re­cov­ery speed of the an­i­mal.” While it is a safer al­ter­na­tive, vets will need to un­dergo ex­ten­sive train­ing, as it dif­fers largely from open surg­eries that all vets are trained to per­form in vet school.

For min­i­mally in­va­sive surgery such as en­doscopy, a 3-D pa­tient is pro­jected onto a 2-D screen, where the op­er­a­tor will be un­able to per­ceive depth. Fur­ther­more, the sur­geon’s hands are not in di­rect con­tact with the tis­sues but through the us­age of spe­cialised tools. This makes it chal­leng­ing for the vet to in­tu­itively in­ter­act with the tis­sues and on the dis­eases. How­ever, with the ad­van­tages of en­doscopy prov­ing a lot less painful on an­i­mals, as well as a quicker re­cov­ery time, it is def­i­nitely an op­tion that all pet own­ers should know about.

Pre­ven­tive care

Pre­ven­tion is bet­ter than cure. To avoid UTIS, which can lead on to more com­pli­cated is­sues, en­sure that your pet stays well hy­drated. The more wa­ter your pet con­sumes, the more they will uri­nate. Pro­duc­ing more di­luted urine and uri­nat­ing more fre­quently is healthy, as bac­te­ria and stone form­ing min­er­als are be­ing flushed out of the body. Mon­i­tor how of­ten your pet uri­nates, as well as their wa­ter in­take. If your pet is sus­cep­ti­ble to UTI and has al­ka­line urine, your vet may also ad­vise you on acid­i­fy­ing your pet’s urine ei­ther through di­etary changes or med­i­ca­tion, as acidic urine is less likely to sup­port bac­te­ria growth.

As pre­vi­ously men­tioned, chang­ing your pet’s diet can slow down the for­ma­tion of hered­i­tary kid­ney or blad­der stones. Dr. Lin states, “Your pet may be ge­net­i­cally pre­dis­posed to a cer­tain kind of stone and eschew­ing food that pro­motes par­tic­u­lar stones to form may be all that is needed to pre­vent fu­ture treat­ments.” How­ever, there are many types of blad­der stones com­mon in an­i­mals, such as cal­cium ox­alate stones and mag­ne­sium am­mo­nium phos­phate stones. Thus, a visit to the vet is nec­es­sary to find out what sort of stone your pet is pre­dis­posed to, to de­ter­mine the spe­cific food your pet needs to avoid. Drink­ing plenty of wa­ter is also para­mount, as it flushes out bac­te­ria and stone form­ing min­er­als from the blad­der.

For tu­mours, there is no easy way to de­tect its pres­ence in our pets as the pre­sent­ing signs are non-spe­cific, mostly re­sem­bling UTI. Most blad­der tu­mour dis­cov­er­ies are in­ci­den­tal find­ings, where own­ers send their pets to the vet for what they think is an UTI. Of­ten, your pet will also show signs of dis­com­fort, such as go­ing to the toi­let ex­ces­sively, as they feel ir­ri­tated in the blad­der. If this oc­curs, it is best to bring your pet for a checkup. Dr. Lin rec­om­mends that pet own­ers send their mid­dle age and geri­atric pets for rou­tine full-body health check­ups once yearly or ev­ery two years, as well as for x-rays of the ch­est ab­domen ul­tra­sound.

With these pre­ven­tive mea­sures, one can take the nec­es­sary steps to­wards en­sur­ing that your pets have a long, healthy and risk-free life.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Singapore

© PressReader. All rights reserved.