If you've got a schnauzer, especially a miniature, you've hit the jackpot in the canine bladder stones sweepstakes, because the breed is prone to both struvite and oxalate types of stones. If your dog is affected, your vet can remove the stones, and dietary changes can aid in preventing more.
The scientific name for bladder stones is urolithiasis. While any dog can be affected, schnauzers have a genetic predisposition to form stones. Calcium oxalate stones occur most frequently in males, usually in dogs that are middle-age and older. Struvite, or magnesium ammonium phosphate stones, occur more often in females. Both type of stones result from infections.
If your schnauzer strains to pee or has blood in his urine, don't dismiss it as a simple urinary tract infection. If you're lucky, that's what it is, and a round of antibiotics should clear it up -- but antibiotics won't work on bladder stones. Your vet will take an X-ray of your dog's bladder to see if stones are present.
If your normally well-trained schnauzer suddenly has urinary "accidents" in the house, that's another clue something is wrong with his bladder or urinary tract. If your dog has difficulty urinating, take him to the vet at once. In a worst-case scenario, a stone can obstruct his urethra with potentially fatal consequence if treatment is not forthcoming.
Your vet will determine the type of stones your dog has via a urinalysis. If your dog's bladder is full of stones, the only way to remove them is through surgery. If a stone is very small, it might be possible for the vet to flush the bladder and physically force it out. Don't bet on there being only one stone in your dog's bladder, though. If your dog has struvite or urate stones and isn't in a great deal of discomfort, dietary changes can help dissolve them. If your opt for the diet route, you'll have to bring your dog to the vet for frequent checkups and monitoring. Dietary changes won't help alleviate calcium oxalate stones.
Once your schnauzer has been through bladder stone trials, you don't want them occurring again. Your vet will prescribe a special diet for stone prevention. Keep your dog at a healthy weight, give him plenty of exercise and always have fresh, clean water available for him. You can purchase kits to test your dog's urine for acidity or alkalinity at home. Struvite stones usually occur due to infection, with their presence raising alkalinity, while calcium stones result from more acidity. Any changes in your dog's pH levels warrant a call to the vet.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.