Dog Bladder Problems


"Dog Bladder Problems are likely to be caused by infection, bladder stones or as a side effect of spaying in female dogs. Conventional medications, diet, homeopathic remedies and determining the correct diagnosis are important tools in solving this problem."


Canine bladder problems can become quite serious if left untreated, so if you notice signs of trouble, you should take your dog to the vet right away. Possible problems include:

There are several types of dog bladder stones such as struvite stones (60% of stones, most common), calcium phosphate stones and calcium oxalate stones. Struvite stones may be able to be dissolved through dietary change. Oxalate stones can be more problematic and may require surgical removal.

Cause of Bladder Problems in Female Spayed Dogs

Female dog bladder control problems are usually due to a condition called USMI (urethral sphincter mechanism incontinence). Incontinence (urinary problems) is the most common side effect of spaying and usually occurs within one year of having the procedure. Dogs lose control over the ability to close off the flow of urine through the urethra. Studies have shown that the risk of incontinence decreases if your dog is spayed before puberty. Up to 10% of dog's that are spayed early have bladder control problems.

Medical treatment with medications called alpha-adrenergic agonist drugs will help approximately 75% of female dogs with this problem although possible side effects are diarrhea, vomiting, anorexia, apathy, nervousness and aggressiveness.

An alternative conventional treatment is estrogen. This will help approximately 65% of female dogs with bladder issues, although possible side effects are swelling of the vulva and increased attraction of male dogs.

For more severe cases there are three surgical options available. These are successful 50% - 75% of the time.

Dog Bladder Symptoms

There are a number of possible dog bladder problems, but the symptoms are all the same. Symptoms include the need to urinate more frequently, meaning your housebroken dog may begin to have "accidents" in the house. Other symptoms include dribbling urine, straining to urinate, and blood in the urine. Urinating will be painful, but it may be difficult for you to notice that.

A housebroken dog suddenly urinating in the house is often the first noticeable sign of dog bladder problems. If this happens, you should take your dog to the vet for an exam.

In the cases where the dog bladder problems are caused by a dog bladder infection, symptoms don't become clinical until some time after the infection has taken hold. Because of this, there may be other accompanying generalized signs of illness such as swollen lymph nodes. Lymph nodes closes to the problem will swell first. It is possible for one lymph node to be swollen while another is not. Other symptoms such as blood, straining while urinating or urinating in drops could indicate some type of blockage.

Diagnosis of Dog Bladder Problems

The first step when diagnosing dog bladder problems is to obtain a urine sample. If you are able to do this and bring it with you when you take your dog to the vet, it will be helpful. If you are unable to get a sample, your vet can get one at the office. He or she can use a catheter (a very narrow tube) to go through the urethra and into the bladder to drain the urine. Another option is to take urine directly from the bladder with a needle. The catheter itself is a helpful diagnostic tool as if it cannot be inserted into a male penis it is probably being blocked by a stone.

The urine can then be cultured (tested) to see if there is a dog bladder infection. Your vet may be able to perform this test at his or her office, or the urine may have to be sent out to a lab.

Your vet may also want to perform x-rays of your dog to check for bladder stones or anatomical abnormalities (inherited way the urinary tract is formed) that are causing infection to form.

Bladder stones are formed much the way a pearl is formed in an oyster. A tiny crystal of a mineral separates from the urine in the bladder. Gradually, other crystals join, until a stone is formed. These stones make it difficult to pass urine.


To achieve better bladder control, canine bladder infections are usually treated with a fourteen-day course of oral antibiotics. Your dog should be encouraged to drink plenty of water during this time, so he will need to urinate frequently. This helps to flush the bacteria out of the bladder. The urine is rechecked 7 to 14 days after treatment is concluded to check to make sure there are no remaining signs of infection.

If your dog gets a repeat infection immediately after treatment it is probably due to use of the wrong antibiotic, too low a dose or too short a duration. Repeat cases may require the daily use of antibiotics for up to 6 months.

Bladder stones can sometimes be treated with medication that will cause them to break down, but often require surgery to remove them. The only sure way to tell what type of stone exists is to remove one surgically and examine it. If your dog is prone to developing bladder stones, there are special diets that may help prevent them. These are available in commercial dog foods such as Hill's Science Diet.

Urinary Incontinence is treated by using antibiotics to eliminate infection if that is the cause. Other treatment options include estrogen treatments or surgery. In some cases behavioral issues such as stress are the cause requiring behavior modification therapy.

Home Remedies for Dog Bladder Symptoms

  • Dog Urinary Tract Infection

    In addition to a change in diet you might want to try a homeopathic supplement such as PetAlive UTI-Free Formula for Dog Urinary Tract Infections. Supplements like this are made from a selected combination of herbal ingredients specially formulated to safely and effectively treat the causes and the symptoms of urinary tract and bladder infections.

  • Canine Incontinence and Bladder Control

    Canine urinary incontinence can also be helped by putting your dog on a regular schedule for eating and walks. Your dog will get used to urinating at those specific times. If you suspect the problem is from something as simple as stress, keeping your dog in the area where she sleeps when you are out of the house or away could help, since dogs rarely urinate where they sleep. There is a new homeopathic remedy that has just been introduced for dog bladder problems made specifically to provide temporary help with control issues. The product is called PetAlive Better-Bladder Control. It combines well known ingredients such as Cantharis (helps to control the urge to urinate), Causticum (helps to prevent accidents when barking or excited), Equisetum (helps with urination frequency and bladder pain) and Ferrum phos (provides bladder support). These ingredients should help temporarily relieve incontinence while strengthening the bladder.

Dog Urine Stain Removal

Unfortunately, with bladder problems comes the need for dog urine carpet, stain and odor issues. For help, see our recommended home remedies and recommended products for removing dog urine odor.

Ask a Question or Share Your Story

Have a Dog Bladder or Urinary System Related Question for our Editors and Readers?

Do you have a question for our Veterinarian about bladder problems in dogs? Our editors select several questions a week for our Veterinarian to answer for free. Just provide your dog's breed, age, sex, any visible symptoms, changes in behavior and medical history (medications, recent visits to veterinarian).

We will do our best to get back to you quickly (depends on how many questions we receive each day). If you do require an immediate response we suggest using this online dog veterinary service that is available now.

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Non-Prostatic Dysuria
Holt, P. E.

Your Dog's Bladder Infection
Keith, Christie

Medical and surgical treatment of USMISusi Arnold
Prof Dr Med Vet, Dipl ECAR, Zurigo, Svizzera
Reichler Iris, Med Vet, Zurigo, Svizzera
Hubler Madeleine, Med Vet, Dipl ECAR Zurigo, Svizzera