The Urinary Tract Infection. Yes, your cuddly canine companion can get this uncomfortable malady too; And not only can this be a painful condition for your dog, it can also be a potentially dangerous one. Since our beloved pets cannot come to us and tell us that it hurts to pee or that the urge to pee is continual, it’s up to us pet parents to recognize the symptoms of UTI in dogs. Most of the time urinary tract infections in dogs can be cured with treatment, without them causing any permanent damage.
What is a Canine UTI?
A canine urinary tract infection is exactly what the name suggests: an infection of the animal’s urinary tract. A dog’s urinary tract is composed of the kidneys, the bladder, the ureters, and the urethra. The ureters are the tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder. The urethra is the tube through which urine exits the body from the bladder.
But the urinary system does much more than just expel urine from the body. As well as ridding the body of liquid waste, it also produces vitamin D and maintains the balance of water and electrolytes within the cells of the body. The kidneys secrete hormones important for producing red blood cells, maintaining healthy blood pressure, and promoting good bone health. A healthy urinary tract is definitely in your dog’s best interest!
Bacteria is the most common cause of UTI in dogs, and E. coli (Escherichia coli) is the most common bacteria responsible, although several other bacteria and even some fungi can be the cause.
Female dogs are more prone to developing a urinary tract infection than male dogs and older female dogs are the most susceptible of all. Bacteria can travel up the urethra in females more easily than that of male dogs because of the comparatively shorter urethral length of the female canine urinary system.
What are the Symptoms of UTI in Dogs?
The most common symptoms of UTI in dogs include:
- The dog uncharacteristically starts peeing in the house. If your good girl or good buddy is well house-trained and usually saves his bathroom duties for the great outdoors, the sudden occurrence of accidents in the house is a good indication that urinary tract issues are the problem.
- Strain or pain during urination. Your dog is straining to urinate if he or she is in the “pee position” for an unusually long time while producing little or no urine. An inflamed urinary tract also makes urination extremely uncomfortable for your pet and the dog may whine or yelp while peeing.
- More frequent urination. If your male dog is lifting his leg more than usual to pee (not including “marking his territory”) or your female seems to be squatting way more than she normally does, this is another tip-off to a canine UTI. This is especially true if each time the dog tries to go, there is little or no urine stream.
- Cloudy urine or blood in the urine. It may be difficult for you to notice bloody or cloudy urine if your dog is outdoors most of the time, but if he or she should start having accidents in the house, be sure to take note of how the pee puddle looks. Your veterinarian will want to know because both are telltale signs of a UTI.
- Excessive licking of genitals. Both male and female dogs do lick their genitals on occasion, but when this behavior becomes constant or obsessive, more than likely the animal is trying to soothe the pain of urination. Unfortunately, the inflammation of constant licking can increase the pain.
- Fever and loss of appetite. Any infection can produce a fever in our pets as their bodies try to fight off the infection. Often (though not in every case), a urinary tract infection will cause an elevation in temperature and consequently a loss of appetite.
- Drinking more water than usual. This symptom of a canine UTI is especially true for older dogs. If your senior pet has suddenly started to act excessively thirsty and has noticeably increased his or her daily water intake, it could be indicative of a urinary tract infection.
- Unusually strong or bad odor to the urine. A bacterial infection in your dog’s urinary system can result in extremely strong or bad smelling urine. This is not to say that doggie pee normally smells especially good, but a UTI can cause particularly malodorous liquid waste.
What Should I do if I Suspect my Dog Has a UTI?
If you think your dog may have a urinary tract infection, you should first seek immediate veterinary medical attention for your pet. Canine UTIs can be treated fairly easily if caught early. The good doctor will want to run a few tests in order to make a diagnosis, including a complete urinalysis and urine culture.
Once the diagnosis has been made, your vet will decide on the proper course of treatment for your dog. Most canine UTIs can be treated successfully with a round or two of antibiotics. Clavamox and cephalexin are two antibiotics commonly used to treat UTI in pets because of their ability to destroy and inhibit bacterial growth.
In addition, your vet may recommend certain dietary changes and even increasing the availability of water for your pet. There are also natural preventive products available for dogs that are prone to urinary tract infections, such as cranberry supplements. While there is little evidence to suggest that cranberries can cure a canine UTI, many holistic veterinarians do recommend “cranberry therapy” as a preventative. Always discuss supplemental therapy with your vet first, and use cranberry supplements especially formulated for dogs.
Our favorite is (as always), ZESTY PAWS.
It’s super important for pet parents to realize that UTIs left untreated in dogs (cats too!) can lead to serious health problems for your pet. An uncontrolled bacterial infection can quickly proliferate and cause life-threatening kidney issues. Symptoms of UTI in dogs should never be ignored; If your pet is exhibiting any symptoms of UTI, at the very least call your vet’s office for advice.
Tips to Preventing a UTI in Your Dog
Certain supplements can help reduce the chance that your dog will get a urinary tract infection in the future. If your pet is prone to them, talk to your vet about cranberry supplements. Cranberry extract minimizes the bacterial colonization of the bladder mucosa.
Some vets may even recommend long-term antibiotic treatment for older female dogs who have a high tendency to develop the condition.
When pets drinks more water, they urinate more which keeps the urinary tract flushed clear of bacteria; So be sure to provide plenty of clean water for your dog to drink.
There are certain dog foods that are specially formulated for canine urinary health. Ask your veterinarian if he or she would recommend a change in diet for your special canine kid.
Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise. Regular exercise is good for the overall health of our pets, and stimulates all the systems of the body, including the urinary system.
Keep your pet clean and well groomed, especially around the genital area. Make sure the area where your dog sleeps is also kept clean.
If you have an indoor dog, increase the number of outdoor potty breaks. Bacteria have more opportunity to multiply the longer urine sits in the bladder.
Well there you have it. The symptoms of UTI in dogs, what you should do if you see these symptoms in your own pet, and some helpful prevention tips. I hope you’ve learned from this article and enjoyed reading as well. If you have any questions or comments or relevant experiences, please leave them for me in the comment section below. Thanks for visiting My Geriatric Dog!