The functioning of the urinary tract system in dogs is quite simple.
- Kidneys filter the daily metabolic wastes from the blood and dissolve it in as little water as possible.
- A set of two tubes called ureters transport liquid waste to a storage area.
- The urinary bladder stores urine.
- The urethra is the tube through which waste is eliminated during urination.
Even with this simplicity, a lot can go wrong with this system responsible for eliminating wastes. Diet, water consumption, pH balance of the urine, and stress can all cause urinary tract problems. In addition, disease-causing bacteria can enter the sterile tract through the urethral opening at the end of the penis (in males) or just within the vaginal vestibule (in females) and cause canine and feline urinary infection.
If the prostate gland, seminal vesicles, or the testicles are infected or inflamed in males, they can cause urinary problems as well, since these organs are closely associated with the urethra. The ureters are the least affected, and seldom pose a problem unless damaged by injury, cancer, surgical accident, or kidney stones that pass through them.
Urolithiasis is a condition caused due to the formation of stones, calculi, or an excessive amount of crystals. These are formed due to the disturbance in pH balance in the urinary tract of the dog. Although these may form anywhere in the tract, the bladder is the most commonly affected part. A urinary bladder stone can cause irritation, damage to the lining, and often pain for the patient. Extreme conditions ultimately lead to blood in the urine or a completely blocked passage, causing canine and feline urinary incontinence, severely painful urination, or complete cessation of it.
Infections caused by the E. coli bacterium are the most common urinary problem. The infection starts from the urethra, and if not treated in time, can move further inside and affect the proximal and distal urinary organs. A kidney infection can be the direct outcome of an unchecked urinary tract infection in dogs. Kidneys are the major organs for filtering out urea from the blood so that it can be excreted with water as urine. Malfunctioning of the organs causes accumulation of toxins, and may ultimately lead to death.
Urinary infections in dogs are normally treated with antibiotics. For the removal of bladder or kidney stones, surgery was the only option some years back. However, there is now an increased realization that stones can be managed through an increased consumption of water, special diets, and homeopathic treatment.
Since incorrect diagnosis is one of the major issues during UTI treatment, before starting any treatment, obtaining a proper diagnosis is necessary. A complete urinalysis and culture is usually required to identify the pathogen, and specific bacteria need to be tackled with different antibiotics. Moreover, canine and feline urinary infections can be persistent and hard to treat, and require long use of antibiotics in prescribed dosages to avoid recurrence.