Bladder Infection

Information on cystitis and bladder infections in cats and dogs.

Select a Topic

  1. What is a Bladder Infection?
  2. What Causes a Bladder Infection?
  3. Diagnosing a Bladder Infection
  4. Help for Bladder Infections
  5. More Information on Bladder Infections

What is a Bladder Infection?

Bladder infections in pets are similar to those in humans and both result in intense discomfort and pain. An infected or inflamed bladder may be caused by bacterial infection, crystals which form urinary stones or an obstruction in the bladder or urethra. This makes it very difficult to empty the bladder when there is an urgent need to urinate.

Bladder infections are more common in cats than in dogs and can occur at any age. Female spayed dogs tend to develop more bladder infections and recurring infections often occur in poodles, Labrador retrievers and middle-aged to older German shepherd dogs.

Male cats often develop partial or complete blockage of urine which can be life threatening. If left untreated, bladder infections can lead to serious health complications such as kidney failure. It is therefore very important to take your pet to the vet at the first sign of a bladder infection.

The most common symptoms and signs of a bladder infection include:
  • Straining, having difficulty or crying when urinating
  • Blood in the urine
  • Urine has a foul odor
  • Tender lower abdomen
  • Enlarged bladder filled with accumulated urine
  • Increased licking of genitals
  • Pet wants to urinate more often without passing urine
  • Urinating in the house or other odd places
  • Fever
  • Lethargy and loss of appetite

What Causes a Bladder Infection?

Bladder infections are commonly caused by bacterial infection, bladder stones or urolithiasis (stones and crystals in the urinary tract and bladder) or a change in urinary pH (alkaline or acidity value) that may cause inflammation of the bladder wall. Bacterial organisms known as Escherichia coli, Streptococcus/Enterococcus and Candida albicans invade any part of the bladder or urinary tract.

Certain dry commercial pet foods, food storage and inappropriate feeding methods may also add to the increase in the E.coli bacteria and contribute to the development of bladder infections. In addition, medications such as antibiotics or corticosteroids as well as diseases which include diabetes, tumors, epididymitis or the inflammation of testicles can predispose your pet to bladder infections.

Diagnosing a Bladder Infection

If you suspect that your pet may have a bladder infection, consult your veterinarian. The diagnosis of a bladder infection is based on the symptoms presented and certain tests may be performed. These tests include a urinalysis, urine samples or bacterial urine culture to test the pet’s urine and confirm the presence of bacteria.

Help for Bladder Infection

Bladder infections are treated with antibiotics or anti-inflammatories, and disappear quite quickly once treatment is administered. Although antibiotics treat the symptoms, these medications do not address the cause of the problem – antibiotics kill harmful bacteria but also beneficial bacteria. If a bladder infection is left untreated, more serious health problems such as kidney infections and failure can occur.

More Information on Bladder Infection

There are certain preventative measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of bladder infections and these include:
  • Ensure that your pet always has plenty of fresh, clean water
  • If pet does not drink a lot of water, give him additional fluids – add water or chicken broth to the food
  • If your pet stays indoors, let him out every few hours to urinate
  • Encourage your pet to drink water during a bladder infection as it is essential that the unwanted toxins are flushed out
  • Boost your pet’s immune system with immune system supplements
  • Feed your pet natural, chemical free food as commercial foods increase their risk of infection and weakens the immune system
  • If you do feed your pet commercial, processed foods, use a prescription diet prescribed by your vet
  • Walk your dog at least twice a day to increase the frequency of urination
  • If have an indoor cat, check that his litter box is clean and accessible
  • Line the litter tray with newspaper and use about a cup of litter at a time, changing it each time it has been used.
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