What is a UTI in dogs?
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common in dogs and they make it painful for them to pass urine. The most common cause is bacterial infection due to bacteria ascending the urethra from the outside world. They tend to be fairly easy to treat, but in some cases there can be complicating factors such as kidney infection, bladder stones or prostate infection (in male dogs).
Are certain dogs more susceptible to UTIs?
All dogs can be affected by a UTI, but they are more common in older females. Also, certain health conditions can predispose to UTIs, including chronic kidney disease, Cushing’s disease and diabetes mellitus.
What are the symptoms of a UTI in dogs?
The typical symptoms include:
- Straining to urinate (they may whimper)
- Urinating more frequently than usual
- Passing small amounts of urine
- Smelly urine
- Blood in the urine
- Urinating in the house
- Licking excessively around the back end
- A high temperature
- Increased thirst
When should I contact my vet if I think my dog has a UTI?
If you are concerned that your dog may be suffering from a UTI then please contact your vet. Delay can increase the chances of complications such as the infection spreading to the kidneys or the formation of bladder stones.
How is a UTI in dogs diagnosed?
Your vet is likely to be suspicious of a UTI based on the clinical history and physical examination. To diagnose a UTI they will get a urine sample from your dog and will run some tests to check for the presence of infection. This may involve sending the sample off to the lab for a culture to grow the bacteria and to check they are sensitive to the antibiotics used.
Depending on the individual case, the vet may suggest running some extra tests such as blood tests and abdominal imaging. An abdominal ultrasound is often used to examine the urinary tract including the kidneys and bladder, and to check for the presence of bladder stones. In male dogs, UTIs can also be associated with infection within the prostate gland, and this can make treatment more challenging.
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What is the treatment of UTIs in dogs?
Uncomplicated UTIs are normally relatively straightforward to treat with antibiotics and anti-inflammatories, which usually leads to a resolution of the clinical signs quite quickly. It is important to finish the course of treatment even if the symptoms improve, as the infection may otherwise come back. Sometimes, the infection may not respond to treatment, in which case further tests will need to be run to check the type of bacteria present and their sensitivity to antibiotics, as well as checking for the presence of bladder stones.
Additional treatment may be needed for UTIs, which could include:
- Treatment/control of any underlying disease e.g. diabetes or Cushing’s disease.
- A special urinary diet. These are often recommended where bladder stones are present to help to dissolve them and then reduce the chances of them reforming. The diet will depend on the type of stone present, so please follow your vet’s advice. Various urinary diets are available in our shop.
- Surgery may be needed if there is a bladder stone, although some will dissolve with medication.
- Medication to help the bladder. Bladder supplements (e.g. Cystaid Plus, which is available from our shop) are available that help to protect the bladder lining and can help with bladder issues.
How can I help to prevent UTIs in my dog?
The following steps can be used to help reduce the chances of your dog developing a UTI:
- Allow constant access to fresh water.
- Regularly take or let your dog outside to allow them to urinate, as regular voiding of urine helps to prevent infection.
- Use urinary supplements if your dog is prone to UTIs – these can help to settle inflammation and improve resilience to infection.
- Feed a prescription diet if this is recommended by your vet – these can help to reduce the chances of bladder stones forming in dogs that are prone.