Just like humans, your furry friend can get a urinary tract infection (UTI). In fact, urinary tract infections are common in dogs. UTIs are painful, so it’s important to know the symptoms and what to do if your dog has one.
What Is a Urinary Tract Infection?
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are commonly found in dogs. Infections occur in the urinary tract system, which includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. They more commonly occur in the lower urinary tract system which includes the bladder and urethra.
Causes of a Urinary Tract Infection In Your Dog
UTIs are caused by bacteria, fungi or even parasites. The most common cause is fecal contamination where bacteria from the feces gets into the urethra. This bacteria then colonizes causing an infection.Older pets and pets that are obese are more susceptible to UTIs. Untreated UTIs can become very painful, serious, and can cause a blockage in the urethra. Urinary tract infections can occur in cats too, although they are quite rare in cats less than 10 years old. In cats most UTIs are not caused by bacteria but stress. In fact, giving cats antibiotics without a confirmed culture is now regarded as bad medicine.
What Dog Breeds Are More Susceptible to UTIs?
Any breed of dog can get a UTI but the American Kennel Club reports that breeds such as Shih Tzu, Bichon Frise and Yorkshire Terriers are predisposed to UTIs and urinary tract stones, a similar condition. Fourteen percent of dogs will get UTIs at some point in their lifetime. It is more common for female dogs to get a UTI, because bacteria have to make a shorter trek than in male dogs.
Symptoms of a Urinary Tract Infection In Your Dog
- Increased frequency of urination
- Difficulty producing urine and straining
- Urgency – can’t wait
- Blood in urine
- Inappropriate urination – has accidents
- Whimpering or crying during urination
- Frequently or obsessively licking the genitals
If you notice symptoms call your vet. Your vet will most likely want to get a urine sample. If your dog cooperates, you can get a sample when they go outside first thing in the morning. Your vet can also draw a sample from the bladder by inserting a needle and drawing urine out. Your vet will check the urine for white blood cells, which would indicate infection. They may culture the urine to see what type of bacteria grows. They may also check for crystals, which would mean your dog has bladder stones. Bladder stones often go along with a UTI.
Treatment and Prevention
Fortunately, UTI infections are easily treated with antibiotics. Make sure to follow the veterinary instructions and finish the medicine so your dog does not risk reoccurrence. Water is the best way to prevent infection. Make sure your dog has access to clean fresh water at all times. Sometimes puppies like to play in their water dish getting it dirty. Or spill the water and play with the dish! A drinking fountain or a drinking well dish may help. Probiotics may help prevent UTIs and encourage good bacteria in your dog’s body. They also help build up the immune system. Diet is important if your dog is prone to UTIs. Dogs benefit from canned or homemade foods that are moist. Just like your grandmother told you – unsweetened cranberry juice is good for urinary tract infections in dogs too.
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