Urinary Tract Infections in Dogs

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

Select a Topic

  1. What is a Urinary Tract Infection
  2. Causes of Urinary Tract Infections
  3. Diagnosing Urinary Tract Infections
  4. Symptoms of a Urinary Tract Infection
  5. Help for Urinary Tract Infections

What is a Urinary Tract Infection?

Urinary tract infections in dogs occurs frequently, causing urination to be extremely painful and uncomfortable. These infections are caused by bacteria that enter the urethra (the tube connecting the bladder to the exterior of the body through which urine flows), bladder or any part of the urinary tract.  If left untreated, the bacteria can move upward into the kidneys and can lead to more serious health complications. 

What Causes Urinary Tract Infections?

Bladder stones, trauma, diabetes, bladder tumors or abnormalities of the urinary tract can increase the risk of urinary tract infections.  

Female dogs experience more episodes of urinary tract infections because the urethra is shorter and broader than in males. The risk of UTIs also increases with the age of the dog. Urinary incontinence often accompanies old age and is caused by the relaxing of the sphincter that keeps urine from leaking. This relaxation also allows bacteria to get into the urethra and cause infections.

Diagnosing Urinary Tract Infections

The diagnosis of urinary tract infections is based on the symptoms, medical history and a physical examination. 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 an ultrasound may be performed if there are recurring infections or a need to determine the cause of underlying diseases or abnormalities.

Symptoms and signs

The common symptoms and signs of urinary tract infections include:

  • Straining to urinate
  • Urinating with pain
  • Licking of the genitals
  • Cloudy or bloody urine
  • Urinating without passing much urine – only drops
  • Urinating in odd places
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased water consumption

Help for Urinary Tract Infection

Urinary tract infections are usually treated with a course of antibiotics. Antibiotics, however, do not address the cause of the infections and frequent treatment of antibiotics canweaken the immune system and cause recurring infections. In more severe cases or with persistent urinary tract infections, surgery or catheterization may be recommended by your vet.

These tips may significantly help in preventing urinary tract infections:

  • Allow opportunities for your dog to void his/her bladder every few hours 
  • Give your dog plenty of fresh, clean water to avoid dehydration and to flush out toxins
  • Feed your dog a high quality, low pH or natural diet without preservatives, colorants or additives
  • Bathe your dog regularly to avoid bacteria build-up, especially in females prone to infections
  • Ensure that your pet gets adequate exercise to stimulate the bladder

It is also important to support the immune system to help the body heal and prevent further infections.

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