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Kidney Stones In Dogs?

By Anamika Mukherjee

Cassie, our beloved mongrel, was four years old, and had always been vigorously healthy. So it was quite a shock when we suddenly noticed her passing urine with increased frequency. Even before we could attribute it to the cool weather, the “increased frequency” had turned into a total inability to hold urine. Suddenly she was out in the lawn, passing tiny quantities of urine every few minutes. This developed in a matter of days. It was unbelievable: left indoors, she was wetting everything at an amazing rate.

A visit to the vet brought little reassurance. He prodded her stomach and said she either had a large quantity of stool to pass, or a huge kidney stone. Kidney Stone!!! We had never heard of such a thing in a dog. But a quick x-ray proved the worst: it was a kidney stone. Cassie, meanwhile, had already wetted the premises in several spots. An operation was called for, the vet informed us, and at the very soonest.

For me, the worst part of the operation was when the anaesthetic was administered. Even with this kidney stone problem, Cassie was a spirited creature – some would call her snappy (and the torn clothes of sundry family friends would testify to it) – and not one to sit still at any time. Yet now, suddenly, as the anaesthetic took effect, her face went woozy, her legs slipped out from under her and down she went. It was as though the life had gone out of her altogether.

The operation seemed to take forever. Then the vet emerged and offered us a cup of tea. Who wanted tea??? He gave us the broken remains of the stone. It was just bits of white, shell-like things, quite fragile. Put together, it would have been quite huge, considering it was from a tiny part of a small animal.

We were allowed in to see the patient. She lay there, with an intravenous drip attached to her leg. I was told to hold the needle in place and make sure it went into the vein, not the skin. She was mostly unaware of me – or anything, for that matter. But the vet said that even as the first traces of anaesthetic wore off and she regained momentary consciousness as the operation came to an end, her first instinct was to snap at him. That’s my girl!

That day, when we took her home, it was terrible. She couldn’t move, she wouldn’t eat, she just slept. We put her on a rug and carried her from room to room with us. We made sure she was never alone. The next day, she was slightly better. But it was straight three days before she passed stool.

Over the following days, we had to take her to the vet every day, to get the wound dressed. After a few days, we learnt to do it ourselves. It was easier: She was difficult to manage in the car, running every which way and yelping to be let out. There was no bandage or anything dramatic like that; it was just a shaved patch of skin and a neat line of stitches. But she used to lick the wound and open the stitches, and we could see the layers of raw, pink flesh inside. At first we got very worried, but then, as the days passed, the wound did dry up and seemed to heal.

She got better, without further complications. At least so it seems now, so much later. At the time, we were in a panic whenever we saw her eating her stitches, and it seemed as if it would never become normal.

To some extent, it never does become normal. We were always conscious of her kidney problem. We worried if she went out into the garden too often. We avoided giving her tomatoes, spinach and non-veg items which were internal organs, like liver. These items, said the vet, inhibit the absorption of calcium, leading to the formation of stones. And no egg shells, of course. We read up on kidney stones. We kept her strictly on the prescribed regimen (two weeks on, four weeks off) of Cystone, a homeopathic drug which controls kidney stones. And the trauma of the situation never really left. I can still remember, with complete intensity, seeing her on the operating table, her legs sliding out of control, her face losing its normal lively expression…

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Copyright 2008 Amit and Anamika Mukherjee. All rights reserved.