Any obstruction of the urethra because of mineral deposits is referred to as urolithiasis or "calculi." It is very common in neutered male cats, fairly common in male lambs and an occasional occurrence in kids and calves.

The most common signs are: Lack of urination, dribbling, kicking at the belly, bloody but scant urine, swollen abdomen, obvious abdominal pain, lack of appetite, depression, a twitching tail. The kid may do a lot of getting up and down. It is most common in castrated males of all species and is more likely in cold weather and in situations where water intake is limited.

Emergency Treatment

This will take a little courage. In sheep and goats the male has a little curly thing called a urethral process (aka vermiform appendage) on the end of the penis. This has to be cut off with small sharp scissors. Then a needle (on a 12 ml syringe which contains warm sterile saline) which has had the end dulled and carefully rounded off is inserted into the penis. Gently squeeze some of the saline into the penis and hold it in there for a minute or two. The warm saline should have a relaxing effect on the urethra so that after the syringe is withdrawn and pressure is removed the crystals may pass freely on their own. Try this procedure a few times, but don't let the liquid get cool. If this fails the urethra can sometimes be flushed out by gently squirting sterile saline back into the bladder, carrying the crystals with it. When the obstruction is removed, the kid will suddenly start to urinate. You may need to repeat the program every few hours. If unsuccessful, seal off the penis by hand, withdraw the needle, let the penis withdraw into the sheath. It may pass urine on its own in 1 - 2 hours.

You MUST restrict the flow of urine once it starts because a too-rapid emptying of the bladder at this time will cause the kid to go into shock. You should check to make sure that there is no fluid in the abdominal cavity because of a ruptured bladder. This can be checked and drained with hypodermic needle. These activities should be followed by a course of penicillin shots for 3 or 4 days. Since this ailment may be accompanied by bloat, that should be watched for as well. Some attention may have to be given to restoring the appetite.

Alternatively, a veterinarian can surgically remove the obstruction and reconstruct the plumbing to repair the situation, but the procedure may involve considerable expense.

Less drastic

Some people report success by adding apple cider vinegar to the drinking water.


In situations where you feel that there is a danger of developing urolithiasis because of local water or feed conditions, you can add ammonium chloride to the diet.

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