Bladder stones in dogs are somewhat common. Treatment for removing these stones will many times include surgery, although they can sometimes be manipulated or dissolved. Opening the bladder and removing the stones can cause complications, including infection, anesthetic risks, pain, contamination of the abdomen with urine, and missing stones, necessitating a second surgery.
The most common complication of surgery is infection. This can occur by introducing bacteria from the outside or by allowing the bacteria from the bladder to contaminate other systems. Infection is controlled by the oral or intravenous use of antibiotic therapies and poses only a minor risk.
Anesthetic risks, especially in older dogs, are also problematic. Anesthesia causes respiratory and circulatory depression, or a slowing of breathing and heart rate. These conditions can culminate into full cardiac or respiratory arrest. Anesthesia is also eliminated by the kidneys. Animals experiencing a kidney deficiency may have trouble metabolizing the anesthesia.
Pain is a common side effect of surgery. Postsurgical pain is usually controlled by the administration of pain medications, which can include butorphanol, fentanyl patches and morphine. These drugs, in combination with anesthetic drugs during recovery, can also induce respiratory and cardiac depression and arrest if the patient is not monitored carefully postoperatively.
Urine leakage into the abdomen during and after surgery can cause peritonitis, a life-threatening infection of the abdomen. To prevent infections, antibiotics are usually prescribed before and after surgery. Urine leakage after surgery will require a secondary surgery to correct the defect in the bladder wall.
Stones can be missed during the surgery, necessitating another surgery, or another removal method such as manual manipulation or dissolution. If a stone is missed, it is generally smaller than those removed by surgery and usually can be medically managed.