Gallstones in Dogs

Cost of Treatment: $1,000 to $4,200

What are Gallstones?

The gallbladder is an organ located between the lobes of the liver, which primary function is storing, concentrating and releasing bile. The bile functions include killing microorganisms such as fungus and bacteria, neutralizing potentially toxic stomach acids and stimulating fat digestion. Gallstones or choleliths are solid particles that usually contain bile, cholesterol, bacteria, proteins and calcium salts. Gallstones can vary in size, going from a small particle to large stones, which can cause blockage in the gal. Bile blockage caused by gallstones can lead to serious complications for the health of your dog. 

Causes of Gallstones in Dogs Gallstones 

  • High concentration of gallbladder bile
  • Nutrient deficiencies (e.g. taurine deficiency)
  • Environmental toxins
  • Decreased bile flow
  • Changes to the lining of the gallbladder

Canine Gallstones Symptoms

  • Weakness and lethargy (lack of energy)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal tenderness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Jaundice (yellowing of skin or eyes)
  • Fever


Small gallstones can sometimes be dissolved with medications. In cases of large gallstones, which can block the flow of bile, surgery may be necessary in order to prevent serious health issues. The removal of the gallbladder (cholecystectomy) may be needed in severe cases.

Resources for gallstones in dogs:

  1. The Merck Pet Health Manual-Disorders of the Liver and Gallbladder in Dogs

Return to the Dog Health Problems glossary.

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