If you’ve ever had a urinary tract infection (UTI) then you know it can be quite uncomfortable and painful. Oh, I can feel the awful burn just thinking about it. While UTIs are quite common in humans (especially for us women), did you know your dog can get a UTI too? According to Merck Veterinary Manual:
“Bacterial UTI is the most common infectious disease of dogs, affecting 14% of all dogs during their lifetime.”
So, since our canine companions can’t simply tell us when they are experiencing a UTI, the big question is: How do we know if your dogs have a UTI?
Signs & Symptoms
- Frequent urination in small amounts. Your pooch may be asking to go outside more than usual.
- Incontinence. You may notice that your otherwise housetrained pooch is now peeing in the house.
- Blood in the urine. You may miss the blood if your dog is peeing on the lawn, but if your pooch is having accidents indoors then you may see pink-tinged urine on your carpet. Don’t ignore this!
- Difficulty urinating, straining, whining, or not being able to urinate.
- Cloudy or smelly urine.
In some instances, there are no symptoms and the infection may be caught while at the vet and being tested for something else.
To accurately diagnose a UTI, your vet will need a urine sample. If the routine urine test suggests there may be an infection then the veterinarian will order a urine culture and sensitivity. The urine culture sample should be sterile. The culture will identify the type of bacteria present and the specific antibiotic which will be most effective for treatment.
The most common bacteria responsible for a canine urinary tract infection is E. coli, which naturally live in the digestive tract. Infection can occur if bacteria makes its way into the urinary system via the urethra and travels up to the bladder. Other common strains of bacteria that cause UTI would include:
If you suspect your canine kid has a UTI, call your vet immediately. Don’t delay. Urinary tract infections must be treated (and quickly) because they can result in bladder stones, kidney stones, bladder damage, inflamed prostate gland, blood poisoning, kidney damage, and could even progress to kidney failure.
While I’m all for natural remedies, your dog will likely need to go on antibiotics. The exact antibiotic will be based on the specific strain of bacteria causing the UTI. Your pooch will probably be put on medication for 10-14 days, and your veterinarian will likely want to repeat the tests a couple of weeks later to make sure the infection is gone. If the infection is still active, further treatment will be necessary.
- Keep your dog’s genital area clean and well-groomed. This will help decrease the chance of fecal contamination. Remember that E.coli is the most common cause of UTI and they are always present in the stool. Females are more prone to UTI due to their anatomy. In a female, the urethra is much shorter making it an easier and quicker trip for the bacteria to make their way up to the bladder.
- Always make sure your pooch has fresh water available. Staying hydrated will keep things flowing – bad bacteria and contaminants will be diluted.
- Don’t make him hold his urine in for hours on end. Even though your pooch can probably make it through the day without an accident, it’s important that he doesn’t. The more he goes, the more he’ll flush out his bladder. You don’t want that urine storing up and sitting in the bladder just because he can hold it.
- If your pooch suffers from recurrent UTI’s, ask your vet about diet. You may have to feed him a specific diet to help him maintain proper pH balance.