Urinary Tract Infection

Information on the causes and symptoms of infections of the kidneys and urinary tract in cats and dogs.

Select a Topic

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

What is a Urinary Tract Infection?

Urinary tract infections can occur frequently in pets, causing urination to be painful and difficult. These infections are caused when the normal bacteria from your pet’s skin or gastrointestinal tract enter the urethra (the tube connecting the bladder to the exterior of the body through which urine flows), the bladder or any other part of the urinary tract.

About 14 percent of dogs experience bacterial UTIs in their lifetime, making them the most common type of infection among canines. Older cats are more susceptible to UTIs than kittens, often due to a compromised immune system or underlying disease like feline diabetes1.

The risk of a UTI in all pets is higher when the animal also suffers from another problem, like bladder stones, tumors or abnormalities of the urinary tract. Overuse of medications can also increase the risk of urinary tract infections due to antibiotic resistance. Urinary tract infections affect both dogs and cats, although they tend to be more common in older cats.

Female cats and dogs experience more episodes of urinary tract infections because the urethra is shorter and broader in females than in males. If left untreated, urinary tract infections can lead to more serious health complications such as kidney infections.

Symptoms and signs

Unlike people, pets may not present any symptoms of a UTI, and the infection is often found when treating another condition1. However, some common symptoms and signs of urinary tract infections include:

  • Frequent urination in dogs
  • Straining to urinate
  • Pain with urination
  • Excessive licking of the genitals
  • Cloudy or bloody urine
  • Insufficient urine flow (e.g., only drops)
  • Urinating in odd places (e.g., outside the litter box)
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite

What Causes Urinary Tract Infections?

Urinary tract infections are caused by bacteria from the urethra entering the bladder. Bladder stones, underlying diseases, overuse of medications and abnormalities of the urinary tract can increase the risk of urinary tract infections.

Diagnosing Urinary Tract Infections

To diagnose your pet’s UTI, the vet will perform physical examination based on their symptoms and review their medical history. A urine test will be performed to check for a high Ph balance, the presence of bacteria, crystals, and red and white blood cells. Additional tests such as a urine culture, blood tests, X-rays and ultrasound may be performed if infections reoccur to determine the underlying diseases or abnormalities causing them.

Help for Urinary Tract Infection

Urinary tract infections in pets are usually treated with a course of antibiotics. However, frequent use of antibiotics can weaken the immune system and cause recurring infections, often because the infecting bacteria becomes resistant to the antibiotics. In more severe cases or with persistent urinary tract infections, treatment options may be limited, and your vet may recommend surgery or catheterization1.

Proper nutrition is key to keeping your dog or cat healthy. Make sure to feed them a high-quality pet food that contains all the essential nutrients, provide them clean, fresh water throughout the day, encourage good hygiene by grooming them, and let them get lots of regular exercise. Maintaining these habits and encouraging your pet to urinate frequently can make a significant difference to your pet’s urinary health.

Natural and homeopathic medicines can be an important component of your pet’s healthy regimen. Along with treatments your vet recommends, natural products like UTI-Free™ for Urinary & Bladder Problems or Urinary ComboPack for Pets support a strong immune system and help relieve symptoms of UTIs, like frequent urination and insufficient urine flow.

More Information on Urinary Tract Infection

There are several things you can do to reduce the chance of your pet developing urinary tract infections. These include:

  • Making sure your dog or cat has toilet breaks every few hours. Avoid making them hold urine in for too long.
  • Giving your pet access to plenty of fresh, clean water daily to flush out unwanted toxins and avoid dehydration.
  • Feeding your pet a high-quality, low-Ph or natural diet free of preservatives, colorants and additives to boost their immune system.
  • Ensuring good hygiene by bathing your pet regularly — in particular female pets, as their urethra is very short, so bacteria can infect the bladder very easily.
  • Ensuring that your pet gets adequate exercise to stimulate the bladder and boost the immune system.
  • Keeping more than one litter box available for your cat and making sure they are always clean.
 
 
Resource:
  1. Dowling, Patricia M. "Bacterial Urinary Tract Infections - Pharmacology." Merck Veterinary Manual. Accessed July 05, 2019. https://www.merckvetmanual.com/pharmacology/systemic-pharmacotherapeutics-of-the-urinary-system/bacterial-urinary-tract-infections