If you notice your dog begging at the door more than usual, or you often come home to find several puddles on the floor, this can be a cause for alarm.
Of course, if you have a very young, excitable dog or one that hasn’t been house-trained yet, then fret not – that’s normal (although worrisome for your carpets).
However, if your dog is house-trained and suffers from these problems, then it may be a sign of a urinary tract infection, or UTI for short.
Bladder infection in dogs can be extremely uncomfortable and painful for them, so it’s crucial to spot and treat this problem as soon as you can.
What should you look for, how can you treat it, and are there ways to prevent it? Let’s dive into all that and more.
What is UTI?
As the name implies, urinary tract infections are infections of the urinary tract.
According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, it is the most common infectious disease in dogs, affecting up to 14 percent of all canines in their lifetime.
Though dogs of any breed or gender can get a UTI, older female dogs, dogs seven years or older, and dogs that suffer from endocrine diseases (such as adrenal disease and diabetes mellitus) are more prone to having urinary tract issues.
Dogs that suffer from chronic kidney disease or Cushing’s disease may also be prone to getting a UTI.
The most common cause of UTIs in dogs is a build-up of bacteria within the urinary tract.
When bacteria such as E.coli, Staphylococcus, or Proteus spp. get in through the urethral opening, they can move up through the urethra and spread throughout the urinary tract, leaving infection in their wake.
Your dog may get these bacteria from feces or other debris that enters into the urethra, or even from ingesting some fungi. Bacterial infections like these are more common in female dogs than in males, though both sexes may be prone to getting a UTI in this manner.
Urinary tract infections can start to infect the bladder as well. This infection will irritate your dog even more than a normal UTI, as it makes them feel as if they need to urinate all the time, even when they don’t actually have to.
If your dog has a weakened immune system, they may be more susceptible to getting a UTI. As stated above, dogs who suffer from kidney or bladder stones, bladder disease, kidney disease, cancer, diabetes, bladder infection, or bladder inflammation may also get a UTI in rare cases.
Dogs that are seven years of age or older may also have a weak urinary sphincter muscle. As such, urine may occasionally leak out even if they are trying to hold it. This is not always a sign of a UTI, so be sure to watch their behavior closely.
Symptoms of Canine UTI
Of course, one of the first signs of a UTI is your dog urinating with alarming frequency. You may find them breaking their house-training or producing a larger amount of urine than normal throughout your house.
First, you will have to determine if this frequent urination isn’t actually tied to marking or other intentional pee behaviors dogs will often exhibit.
Most adult dogs will also need to relieve themselves about three to five times a day. So if they do not have access to a doggy door, their pleas at the door are ignored, or if they lack a set place for them to urinate within your home, then they may just pee wherever.
If your dog urinates more than this and produces far less urine than usual, then this is a surefire sign that your dog has a UTI. This is because UTIs give dogs the urge to go to the bathroom all the time, even when they aren’t sure if they need to.
Straining or Crying Out While They Urinate
If you are still unsure if your dog has a UTI, then try to observe their behavior while they urinate. If you notice them straining while trying to urinate or even crying out, yelping, or whining in pain as they urinate, you should definitely be concerned.
These behaviors are typically caused by an inflammation in their urinary tract. Be sure to check your dog’s urine afterwards.
If there is blood in your dog’s urine or you notice that their urine is cloudy, then you will need to let your veterinarian know right away. This is another sign that your dog is definitely suffering from a UTI.
Typically, the blood in your dog’s urine may not be that visible at first glance. As such, look closely for even the slightest pink stain mixed in.
Licking Their Genitals
Dogs will occasionally lick their genitals as a part of their normal grooming routine.
However, if you notice your dog licking their genitals constantly, this means they are trying to soothe the pain that comes with a UTI.
Guzzling More Water Than Normal
This can be difficult to determine, especially when it’s hot out.
If you do notice your dog gulping down more water than they normally do throughout the day and they are urinating out much less, then your dog has most likely contracted a UTI.
A Note on UTI Symptoms
In most cases, UTIs are cured with the appropriate treatment and don’t cause any lasting damage.
In other, rarer cases, however, your dog’s UTI symptoms may actually be the symptoms of a more serious condition, such as poisoning or cancer.
As such, it’s wise to see a veterinarian whenever your dog has any issues.
This video goes into more detail about Dog UTIs.
Dog UTI Treatment
If your dog does not get treatment for their UTI, the infection may spread to their kidneys or cause bladder stones to sprout and partially or fully obstruct the urethra.
An obstructed urethra can prevent your dog from urinating, which can lead to kidney failure or a ruptured bladder, the result of which is dangerous – even fatal. Untreated UTIs can also extend to the prostate gland in male dogs.
The types of bladder stone that your dog may develop will depend on many factors, including age, sex, and breed.
Home Remedies for Dog UTI
There are plenty of easy home remedies for dog UTI, but you should always clear them with your veterinarian first to see if any of these dog UTI treatments are right for your dog.
After all, what could be a cure for one dog might prove dangerous for another.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Adding apple cider vinegar to your dog’s water every day may help ease their pain. Make sure to add one teaspoon if you have a small dog and one to two tablespoons if you have a bigger dog.
Add these measurements to their water bowl twice a day for up to seven or ten days. The number of days you choose will depend on the severity of your dog’s UTI.
Have Them Drink More Water
You can place extra bowls of water around your home to encourage your dog to drink more. When they have ample access, they may be more tempted than when they’re forced to seek water out.
You may also choose to add the above measurements of apple cider vinegar to the water; however, regular water will work just as well if you find your dog doesn’t like the taste.
Be sure to change the water from each bowl once or twice a day.
Try crushing a 500-milligram Vitamin C tablet into your dog’s food once a day for up to seven days.
Alternatively, you can feed your dog one to three teaspoons of some citrus juice each day.
Just make sure that the juice is natural and NOT from concentrate. The added sugars could irritate your dog’s UTI even more.
Blueberries or Cranberries
Add about two teaspoons of chopped blueberries or cranberries to your dog’s food twice a day for seven to ten days.
Again, how long you do this will depend on the severity of your dog’s UTI.
When to See a Vet
If you suspect your dog has a UTI, you should bring them to your veterinarian as soon as possible.
They will perform a thorough physical exam of your dog, go through your dog’s previous medical history, and may run some diagnostic tests.
These tests typically consist of:
- Urinalysis and urine culture.
- Various chemistry tests to evaluate kidney, liver, and pancreatic function, as well as to measure sugar levels.
- Complete blood count to rule out any possible blood-related conditions.
- Electrolyte tests.
- Thyroid test.
- An X-ray of the urinary tract or an abdominal ultrasound to evaluate if stones or other abnormalities are present.
Basically, all these tests are used to determine the specific cause of your dog’s UTI; is it the result of bacteria they can easily get rid of or something far more serious?
Veterinarians will look at parameters like:
- Urine-specific gravity (or its concentration)
- pH (which is the acid-base balance)
- Glucose levels (or sugar in the urine)
- Bilirubin (which is a breakdown product of blood)
- Protein levels within a sample of your dog’s urine to determine a UTI status.
The urine specimen they collect is then placed into a centrifuge, which is a machine that will spin the sample around at high speed to allow cells and other debris to accumulate at the bottom of the test tube.
This important debris can then be tested to see if red blood cells, white blood cells, bacteria, and/or crystals have been deposited in your dog’s urine.
No dog UTI is equal to another. The only way to identify what specific bacteria has infected your dog’s urinary tract is to take the debris from that sample spun in the centrifuge, grow it in a lab, and test the growth against various, common antibiotics veterinarians use to determine the best treatment option.
While this entire process sounds lengthy, in reality, you will get the results of these tests much faster than you think!
If your dog has a simple bacterial infection, then your veterinarian will most likely prescribe a dog UTI treatment over the counter, such as an antibiotic, to relieve your dog’s pain.
Your dog will still need to get another urinalysis after their course of antibiotics is done, just to make sure the infection is gone.
If your dog is still experiencing issues, your veterinarian may run additional tests to see if there is anything else causing this persistent UTI.
Here’s a video showing some home remedies for dog UTIs.
Knowing how to prevent UTIs before they happen can save both you and your dog from a slew of vet visits and painful times ahead.
Fortunately, UTI prevention is incredibly easy!
One of the most important things to remember is that you must ensure your dog is getting enough water throughout the day.
Properly hydrated dogs are less likely to get a UTI.
It’s also important to give them regular hot baths to help them stay clean and relieve their muscles.
Wash your dog with mild soap and pay close attention to their genital area. Be sure you rinse this area with clean, warm water until you are sure there is no soap left.
You should also keep them well-groomed, especially around their rear end and genitals.
Regular Bathroom Times
Take your dogs out to pee as often as you can! The longer urine sits in their bladders, the more opportunity harmful bacteria has to multiply in their urinary tracts.
Do not leave them to hold their urine for 8 to 10 hours or more, as this makes it more likely for them to contract a UTI.
Bladder infection in dogs can be quite painful and scary. As such, it’s best to know how to identify the symptoms of a canine UTI, so you can help them out as quickly as possible.
Hopefully, this guide has shown you the potential dangers of your dog contracting this infection, as well as several useful methods on how to cure UTI in dogs.
Keep an eye out, and your dog will be just fine.
What’s your best dog UTI treatment?