Urinary tract infections occur in 2% to 3% of all dogs. They are usually caused by a bacterial infection that has entered the body through the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the body. If the infection is able to take hold, it colonizes in the urinary tract, eventually making its way to the bladder causing bladder infection.
Infection in the urinary tract causes inflammation which reduces the size of the urethra and makes the tube narrower, making it more difficult to urinate. Since less urine passes through the body, other problems can set in such as urinary or bladder stones. The urine contains crystals which form into stones. As these crystals attach to one another forming stones, additional blockages and urination problems can occur.
The urine itself is nature's way of keeping the urinary tract infection free. If your dog isn't urinating enough, or there are other problems in the body that changed the PH balance or composition of the urine, it reduces the urine's bacteria killing effectiveness. Female dogs are more likely to be infected since there is a wider opening through the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the body.
Canine UTI Symptoms
As indicated above, symptoms of urinary tract infection are usually related to problems with urination due to inflammation of the urinary tract. These include:
- Difficulty Urinating
- Pain when urinating
- Frequent urination
- Urine leaking
- Urination in unacceptable places
- Urine odor
- Licking of the area where your dog urinate
- Blood in urine
A dog UTI can cause discomfort or pain as the bladder fills with urine, which explains the dog's desire to urinate more frequently than normal.
Diagnosis of Canine Urinary Tract Infection
Your veterinarian will do a urinalysis to test the composition and PH and of the urine. Testing will be done to look for the presence of blood in the urine as well as crystals that could form stones. Bacteria levels will be tested as well.
If your veterinarian suspects the formation of stones, she will try to determine the type (struvite or oxalate). Each type has a different treatment protocol. Tests will be repeated after UTI treatment to confirm that the disease has been eliminated.
Dog UTI Treatment
Antibiotics are used to treat the bacterial infection for a period of 10 to 14 days. There are different types of antibiotics that are selected based on the sensitivity of the bacteria and the extent of the problem. Your dog should start to feel better within 48 hours. These are highly effective. In rare cases, a stubborn infection takes hold which requires a treatment span of 4 to 6 weeks. Your dog will be tested again after the treatment period to ensure that the infection is gone.
To keep the canine urinary tract infection from returning there are several steps you can take:
1. Fresh Water: The more your dog drinks, the more he or she will urinate. As mentioned urine is natures way of keeping the tract clean.
2. Fruit Juices: Even during treatment, fruit juice can help improve the acidity or PH of the urine. While not liked by all dogs, if your dog will drink some cranberry juice, give it a try. You can mix it with their food or provide in a bowl.
3. Homeopathic Remedies: Several natural products have a long history of helping to support the urinary tract and the PH of urine. One product for additional research that is made specifically for this purpose is PetAlive UTI-Free Formula for pet urinary tract infections.
4. Frequent Walks: Dogs will naturally urinate more when walked. If they only are walked 2x per day, urine remains in the bladder where bacteria can take hold. Urinating outdoors flushed the urine.
It is possible for a canine urinary tract infection to resolve itself on its own by taking the steps indicated above. However, if you don't see it getting better, a trip to the veterinarian is called for.
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Lulich JP, Osborne CA, Bartges JW, et al.
Canine lower urinary tract disorders In
Ettinger SJ,Feldman EC, eds.
Textbook of veterinary internal medicine.
5th ed. Philadelphia: WB Saunders