Removal of kidney stones (nephroliths) in dogs is often not recommended unless affected dogs have a history of them blocking the openings to the ureters. As with any surgery, dog owners will be given post-surgical instructions to follow carefully.
The surgery required to remove a kidney stone is known as nephrotomy and requires the veterinarian to cut into the kidney in order to remove the stone. If the kidney has been damaged, the vet may decide to remove it as well.
It is important to not confuse kidney stones with bladder stones, as often these two terms are used interchangeably. Bladder stones are by far the most common type of stones found in dogs, whereas kidney stones are quite rare.
After kidney stone surgery, dogs are sent home once they show signs of recovery from the anesthesia. At home, your dog may appear groggy and wobbly for the first few hours, and therefore should be kept in a crate or small room to prevent him from bumping into furniture or worse, falling down stairs.
Your dog will have a shaved area on the abdomen where the incision was made. Because dogs tend to lick incisions, they are often sent home wearing an Elizabethan Collar; a lamp shade collar used to prevent access to the surgical site.
Keep your dog quiet for the first few days, limiting his exercise to short walks to empty the bladder and bowel. The incision area should be monitored and any abnormalities such as profuse bleeding, excessive swelling or discharge should be reported to the vet promptly.
In order to prevent the formation of other kidney stones, the veterinarian will send the stone to a lab and, depending on the type, special diets and medications may be prescribed. Ensuring your dog always has access to water and follow up vet appointments will further help prevent recurrences.
Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Mike Renlund
Adrienne Farricelli has been writing for magazines, books and online publications since 2005. She specializes in canine topics, previously working for the American Animal Hospital Association and receiving certification from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Her articles have appeared in "USA Today," "The APDT Chronicle of the Dog" and "Every Dog Magazine." She also contributed a chapter in the book " Puppy Socialization - An Insider's Guide to Dog Behavioral Fitness" by Caryl Wolff.