UTIs in Dogs

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By Tess Thompson

Canine and feline urinary tract infections are as troublesome for your pet as they may be to you. The occurrence of urinary tract infections in dogs is much more common than in humans, and can cause excruciating pain.

Urinary tract infections in dogs can have far-reaching consequences if not treated early. The infection that usually starts from the urethra and bladder travels upwards and can cause damage to other organs. A UTI is also associated with canine and feline incontinence and urine accumulation. Abnormal accumulation of urine can ultimately lead to kidney damage, kidney failure, and even death.

Wetting is a major problem with young pups. Wetting caused by over-excitement may be ignored, but instances of continued prevalence of the condition may be indicative of a UTI in puppies. The prevalence of a UTI may make it difficult to toilet train a young dog.

Signs of a urinary tract infection are easily observed, and a quick check using a urine culture can confirm the diagnosis in its early stages.

Prostatitis is a common result of an untreated UTI in male dogs. Infection causes the prostate gland in males to enlarge, blocking the free flow of urine. At this point, bacteria from the UTI may start to move towards other organs via the bloodstream. Even if the infection remains localized within the prostate gland, it may form an abscess, which makes it necessary that a clinical assessment is sought early.

Septicemia may occur due to an invasion of virulent microorganisms in the bloodstream from the urinary tract. Bacteria can multiply and potentially affect any organ in the body. This can eventually infect the lining and valves of the heart. It can also infect and inflame the intervertebral disks.

There is usually an underlying disease that causes a UTI. The underlying cause needs to be identified and should be corrected. Some of the common causes of UTIs in dogs include bladder stones, tumors of the bladder, diabetes, and Cushing’s disease. Medications used to treat some of these diseases, especially immunosuppressive drugs like cortisone and anti-cancer drugs, may also cause urinary tract infections in dogs.

Studies are being conducted on dogs with urinary tract infections and endocrinal diseases like hyperadrenocorticism or diabetes. The results show a substantial co-occurrence of UTIs with these diseases, making urinalysis necessary for dogs with endocrinal problems. As clinical symptoms of UTI are vague and laboratory tests can be normal in many cases, a urine culture has to be done for proper evaluation. Urine cultures will also reveal the specific bacterium that is growing to further aid treatment.

Early assessment and management can curtail the spread of E. coli, the most common bacterium isolated during urine cultures.



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