Statistics show that one in 14 dogs either has a urinary tract infection now or will get one sometime during its lifetime. In a few cases, a dog urinary tract infection can be a life-threatening problem. However, in others, the infection is much like one we humans would get -- just something that needs to be diagnosed and treated.
The Two Types of Dog Urinary Problems
The easiest type of dog urinary problem to treat is a bacterial urinary tract infection. This can affect any or all parts of the dog’s urinary tract. However it most commonly occurs in the urinary bladder. And female dogs are more likely to develop urinary tract infections than their male counterparts.
The second and more serious problem that can affect your dog is a urinary blockage. This is a medical emergency and must be treated immediately. The blockage occurs when a bladder stone becomes lodged in your dog’s urethra. If this problem is not treated immediately, the dog may develop a severe electrolyte imbalance, which can lead to cardiac arrhythmias. Ultimately, these arrhythmias can turn into a cardiac arrest and kill the dog. Or the dog’s urinary bladder can rupture, causing urine to leak into its abdominal cavity, which can lead to peritonitis.
What Causes Dog Urinary Tract Infections?
The cause of dog urinary tract infections is a buildup of bacteria in your dog's bladder. The bacteria enter your dog when it consumes unclean food or water. The bacteria migrate into the dog’s urinary tract where they catch hold and multiply. When it gets to the point that these bacteria overcome your dog's immune system, it will develop a urinary tract infection.
urinary tract infections normally occur in the areas where your dog produces and excretes urine. A urinary tract infection can encompass the dog’s kidneys, bladder, ureters, urethra and prostate gland.
The Symptoms of a Dog Urinary Tract Infection
The most obvious signs of a dog urinary tract infection is when the dog is crying, whining or yelping when it tries to pee, or making repeated attempts to urinate but with no luck.
However, there are other symptoms of a dog urinary tract infection, including:
- Blood in its urine
- Foul-smelling urine
- Straining to urinate
- Inability to hold urine
- Urinating in inappropriate places
- Urinating very small amounts or not passing any urine despite the dog’s attempts to urinate
Although it's less common, bacterial urinary tract infections can also involve one or both of the dog’s kidneys. If this is the case, the dog may show one or all of these symptoms:
- Abdominal pain
- Blood in urine
- Loss of appetite
Female Dog Urinary Tract Infections
Just like women are more likely to get a urinary tract infection, so are female dogs. In fact, female dog urinary tract infections and the problems associated with them are very common problem and much more so than in male dogs.
There are many reasons for this. However, one of the most common is age. Once your dog has reached a certain age, it is just more likely to have problems including urinary tract infections.
For that matter, there are a number of issues that can affect an aging female dog, including a weakening of the urinary muscles, bladder damage and the formation of bladder stones.
How a Dog Urinary Tract Infection Is Diagnosed
If you suspect that your dog does have a urinary tract infection, you will need to see your veterinarian. He or she will collect a urine sample from your pet.
Your vet will analyze the sample and examine it under a microscope. If your vet finds bacteria or white blood cells in the sample, he or she will most likely want to do a culture of the urine sample.
If your dog's urine needs to be cultured, it will be several days before your vet knows the results. This is because it normally takes at least one day for the bacteria to grow and an additional 1 to 2 days to identify it.
How a Dog Urinary Tract Infection Is Treated
If your vet determines that your dog does have a urinary tract infection, he or she will prescribe an anti-microbial drug that will be effective against the type of bacteria that has caused the problem. Be sure to give your dog the drug exactly as your veterinarian has instructed. If you just miss a dose or two or do not complete the entire treatment, your dog can actually have a relapse or develop even more serious consequences.
Once you have finished treating your dog, your vet may take another urine sample to make sure the infection has been cured. If it has not, you will most likely need to continue medicating the dog for some period of time. If your dog suffers recurring infections, this may indicate there is a problem with urinary stones or some other condition that would warrant more testing.
Complications of Dog Urinary Tract Infections
If your dog does have a urinary tract infection, it is important that you get it treated immediately. This is because if you ignore a simple dog urinary tract infection, it can develop into something more serious. In fact, even a simple urinary tract infection can lead to any of the following health complications:
- Renal failure
- Kidney or bladder stones
- A weakened immune system
Preventing Dog Urinary Tract Infections
There are five things you can do to help prevent a dog urinary tract infection.
The first of these is to make sure that it gets frequent toilet breaks. The minute your dog shows signs that it has to go potty, take it right outside.
Second, make sure you provide your dog with lots of water. This helps clean your dog's urinary tract and replenish its bodily fluids, while washing away bacteria. You should give your dog easy access to water and make sure you replace the water with fresh water once per day.
You can prepare citrus drinks for your dog. A drink such as orange juice will cause your dog's urine to become more acidic, which makes it harder for the bacteria to attach to the wall of the dog’s bladder. What's more, citrus juices can also reduce the pain associated with urination. As a rule, dogs do not like the taste of the citrus juices. This means you may have to mix the juice with something else.
Fourth, make sure your dog gets proper food and nutrition. Feed your dog only the amount recommended on the dog food packaging. Be sure to immediately take away any uneaten portion of the dog’s meal so bacteria cannot get into it.
Finally, take your dog to the vet for a regular checkup. Dogs, like humans, need medical attention. Don't let too much time go by without taking your dog to see your vet. A regular check up can help identify health conditions such as a dog urinary tract infection in its early stages, which makes if far easier to treat.
Since your dog can’t tell you it has a urinary tract infection, it's just something you have to watch for. Then, if you see any symptoms develop, get it to your vet immediately. This way, you can protect your dog from developing a really serious problem that could even lead to its death.