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Rupture of the Bladder in Dogs

By: Dr. David Diamond

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Bladder rupture is a condition in which the urinary bladder tears and releases urine into the abdominal cavity. The bladder can rupture because of trauma, urinary obstruction, tumors, severe bladder disease, and during catheterization.

There are no specific breed or sex predilections for this problem. Animals that experience rupture of the bladder can quickly become sick from substances in the urine that leak into the abdomen and get reabsorbed instead of being excreted.

What to Watch For

  • Depression
  • Lack of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal distension
  • Lack of urine production

    Rupture of the bladder rarely occurs without the animal first showing other symptoms of urinary tract disease such as straining to urinate, bloody urine, and inability to urinate.


    Diagnostic tests may include:

  • Complete physical examination, including palpation of the abdomen, to rule out other injuries caused by the trauma, or to help diagnose the urinary tract symptoms

  • Blood tests, including complete blood count and chemistry profile to rule-out other problems and help diagnose a ruptured bladder

  • Abdominal radiographs (X-rays) to help visualize the size and shape of the urinary bladder

  • Contrast radiographs to see if urine is leaking out of the bladder into the abdomen

  • Abdominal ultrasound to look for free fluid in the abdominal cavity and to visualize the walls of the bladder

  • Abdominocentesis, which is passing a needle through the wall of the abdomen, to help identify free fluid in the abdomen. The fluid may then be "dip stick" tested, or sent to the laboratory for more specific analysis.


    Abdominal exploratory surgery with repair of the bladder wall defect is the definitive course of treatment.

    Sick animals are given intravenous fluids to help stabilize them prior to surgery. Animals that are too unstable to have surgery may require abdominal drainage until surgery can be done.

    Home Care and Prevention

    After surgery and discharge from the hospital, your pet should be restricted from excessive activity. He may be given anti-inflammatory medications or pain medications for the first few days to keep him comfortable.

    Some dogs may be sent home with oral antibiotics for several days if a urinary tract infection is also present or suspected.

    Once home, you need to watch your dog carefully for signs of surgical complications, including:

  • Incision problems such as redness, swelling or discharge
  • Blood-tinged urine
  • Straining or inability to urinate
  • Distension of the abdomen

    Ruptured bladder associated with bladder stones can be prevented by early diagnosis and treatment of the stones. Bladder rupture associated with trauma can sometimes be prevented. Many traumatic events are true accidents and thus unavoidable. Avoid the chance for motor vehicle trauma by keeping your dog fenced or leashed. Other causes of ruptured bladder cannot be prevented.

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