Gallbladder Disease in Dogs

The gallbladder is a small organ found in the abdomen of dogs and humans. The gallbladder stores bile, a substance that aids in digestion. Gallbladder disease occurs when gallstones form, blockage of the ducts leading to or from the gallbladder occur, or inflammation of the gallbladder develops.

Gallstones are common in dogs, but good prognosis for surgery.

Gallstones are common in dogs, but they’re usually not harmful. They’re usually not painful and are usually not life-threatening either. The only time they become a problem is when they get stuck in the bile ducts of your dog’s gallbladder. This causes them to swell up and block the flow of bile out of the liver and into your dog’s intestine, where it helps digest his food.

If this happens, surgery is required to remove the stone(s) from his system so that he can digest food properly again. Surgery is usually successful at removing both stones and any other blockages in his system; if left untreated for too long, though (more than three months), there’s a chance he’ll develop cancerous tumors on his liver or pancreas as well!

The role of the gallbladder

The gallbladder is a small pear-shaped organ that sits on the liver. It stores bile, which is produced by the liver and helps with digestion of fats. When you eat fatty foods or drink alcohol, your body triggers the gallbladder to release bile into your small intestine so that it can break down these substances.

Bile gets released from two sphincters (valves) located at each end of your gallbladder: one between your liver and gallbladder called “hepatic” sphincter; another between your gallbladder and small intestine called “cystic” sphincter. The hepatic sphincter has smooth muscles that contract when bile needs to be released into the duodenum (first part of intestines), while cystic sphincter has striated muscles that relax when bile needs to be released into duodenum (first part of intestines).

Gallbladder structure and function

Bile helps break down fats and absorb fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K). The liver produces bile constantly, but it stored in your dog’s gallbladder until it’s needed to help digest food.

The gallbladder releases bile into the small intestine through tiny organs called ducts when you or your dog eats fat-containing foods like meat or dairy products. When this happens, the gallbladder contracts to push bile out of its sacs so it can enter the intestines to aid with digestion.

What happens in gallbladder disease?

As the bile flows from the liver, it passes through a tube called the cystic duct. A stone may block the cystic duct and prevent bile from reaching your dog’s small intestine.

Gallbladder disease can be caused by gallstones, which are hard deposits that form in the gallbladder. Most stones are made of cholesterol or salts, but some dogs develop stones made of calcium or other minerals, such as uric acid (found in urine).

What are the signs of gallbladder disease?

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Anorexia (loss of appetite)
  • Weight loss
  • Abdominal pain, especially after eating a fatty meal. If this persists, consider scheduling an appointment with your veterinarian.

It’s important to note that there are many other causes for these symptoms that aren’t related to the gallbladder at all. For example, diarrhea can be caused by parasites or acid reflux. Jaundice and vomiting are associated with liver disease; jaundice and diarrhea may mean cancer in dogs over 6 years old; fever can be due to infection as well as inflammation of the gallbladder itself.

Diagnosing gallbladder disease

Diagnosing gallbladder disease can be difficult. The symptoms of the condition are similar to other gastrointestinal issues, such as vomiting and diarrhea. However, there are some diagnostic procedures you can use to determine whether or not your pet has gallbladder disease.

One method is obtaining a blood sample and checking for bile acids in the bloodstream. These bile acids may indicate that your dog has gallstones or another condition associated with them. Another method of diagnosis is by performing an ultrasound on your pet’s abdomen; this will let you know if there are any masses present inside the body that might be causing problems such as jaundice (a yellowing of their skin).

The most accurate way to diagnose canine gallbladder disease is through CT scans because they reveal exactly where all stones exist within each patient before any surgery takes place–which means less risk for complications during surgery.

Treatment of gallstone disease in dogs

Surgery is the most cost effective, as well as the most humane, reliable and efficient method for treating gallstone disease in dogs.

In fact, it’s the only treatment that can treat all types of dog gallstone disease effectively and permanently. It’s important to note that although surgery may seem like an invasive procedure, it’s actually very safe when performed by a trained professional veterinarian who has experience with this type of procedure and knows how to prevent complications from occurring during surgery or after surgery occurs (e.g., infection).

What is the prognosis for dogs with gallstones?

The prognosis for dogs with gallstones depends on the severity of their condition. Dogs are typically treated using dietary management, which reduces the risk of complications associated with surgery for this condition. The surgical removal of a dog’s gall bladder is a common treatment option when non-surgical methods are not effective; however, it is not without risks, including post-operative bleeding or infection.


Gallstones are a common disease in dogs, but if treated properly have a good prognosis for recovery. If you suspect that your dog may have gallstones, then it is important to take him or her to see a veterinarian as soon as possible so they can be diagnosed and treated before they start causing problems that require surgery or other more serious treatments.