The lower portion of the canine urinary tract is comprised of the bladder and urethra. The upper portion consists of the kidneys and ureters, a pair of thick-walled tubes that carry urine from the kidney to the urinary bladder. The prostate gland encircles the urethra in males. The entire system barring the urethra is normally sterile, but pathogens from the environment enter into the urethra, the duct through which urine is discharged in most mammals.
Certain breeds of dogs are more prone to develop urinary tract infections. In addition, proximity to human populations has lead to a situation where dogs have become more susceptible to common human ailments like UTIs. In fact, urinary tract infection in dogs is far more common than it is in humans.
Urinary tract infections usually occur at a single site - the bladder, ureters, kidneys, urethra, or the prostate glands-- but it can affect more than one site at the same time. Common signs of a UTI in puppies and adult dogs include the amount, color, frequency, and odor of urine. These are generally enough to suspect the prevalence of a urinary infection in dogs. Further confirmation is provided by a physical examination and palpation of the bladder. Complete diagnosis, however, must include a laboratory examination and a urine culture to check prevalence of pus and blood to identify the disease- causing bacterium, and to rule out or confirm co-occurrence of any underlying disease.
Treatment of UTIs involves the use of antimicrobials to control bacterial growth, with therapy lasting until the time the dog's own bodily defense is strong enough to prevent further colonization of the pathogen. Effective drugs are usually metabolized by the kidneys and passed off through urine, requiring high and prolonged drug concentration of the antimicrobials to achieve desired results.
Upper tract infections affect the kidneys. Instances of scarring or inflammation of the kidney by a bacterial infection or the presence of calculi requires a different approach to treatment. If the prostate gland in males has been infected as well, it can cause canine incontinence. The same principal applies to feline urinary incontinence, too. These issues can be addressed with prostatitis medication.
Antibiotics work quickly and provide quick relief from symptoms. The full course of antibiotic therapy prescribed for treatment should be completed to avoid recurrence of canine urinary tract infections, as chronic UTI treatment can cause direct as well as indirect problems for the dog. Frequent infections would more often than not lead to infections of distant organs in the body if the bacteria travel through the blood stream. In addition, regular administration of antibiotics causes overall weakening of the immune system, which could be an invitation to other diseases.