Rupture of the Bladder in Small Mammals

Rupture of the Bladder in Small Mammals

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 or severe bladder disease. This can occur in any species but tests and treatment vary depending on the animal.

Animals that experience rupture of the bladder can quickly become sick from substances in the urine that are leaking into the abdomen and getting reabsorbed instead of being excreted.

What to Watch For

  • Depression
  • Lack of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal distension
  • Lack of urine production
  • Straining to urinate
  • Blood in urine


    Every sick pet benefits from a complete physical examination, including palpation of the abdomen. In some cases, the physical exam may diagnose the problem or it can help determine appropriate tests. For some small pets, however, additional tests may be cost prohibitive. Some recommended tests may include:

  • Blood tests, including complete blood count and chemistry profile may help rule-out other problems and help diagnose ruptured bladder.
  • Abdominal radiographs (X-rays) are often taken to help visualize the size and shape of the urinary bladder.
  • Contrast radiographs may be done to see if urine is leaking out of the bladder into the abdomen.
  • Abdominocentesis, which is passing a needle through the wall of the abdomen, helps in figuring out what the free fluid in the abdomen is.


    Treatments vary depending on the size and species of pet and cost concerns. The treatment for bladder rupture is abdominal surgery. If surgery is determined not to be an option, euthanasia should be considered. Surgical treatment involves:

  • Abdominal exploratory surgery with repair of the bladder wall defect is the definitive course of treatment.
  • Sick animals will be given intravenous fluids to help stabilize them prior to surgery.
  • Animals that are too unstable to have immediate surgery may require abdominal drainage until surgery can be done.

    Home Care and Prevention

    After surgery and discharge from the hospital, the animal will be restricted from excessive activity. He may be given anti-inflammatory medications or analgesics for the first few days to keep him comfortable. Some animals may be sent home with oral antibiotics for several days if a urinary tract infection is also present or suspected.

    Monitor the incision closely. Watch for swelling, redness or discharge. Monitor urination. Watch for blood-tinged urine, straining or inability to urinate.

    The only cause of bladder rupture that can be prevented is trauma. Many traumatic events are true accidents and thus unavoidable. Be very careful when handling or carrying your small mammal to avoid falls.

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