Urinary Tract Infections in Dogs – Symptoms, Treatments & Prevention

Urinary Tract Infections in Dogs

Urinary tract infections for dogs are painful illnesses and cause a lot of troubles in affected dogs.

The disease is commonly referred to as UTI and it needs immediate treatment from a veterinarian because it has the tendency to become life-threatening in case the symptoms are ignored or left untreated.

A dog's urinary tract is composed of several organs: their bladder, the ureters, the urethra, and their kidneys. A canine UTI exists when any of these organs is bacterially infected. In contrast, a dog bladder infection is diagnosed when specifically the pet's bladder becomes infected. A bladder infection is considered to be a lower UTI infection in dogs.

What are Urinary Tract Infections for dogs?

Urinary tract infections for dogs or UTIs are infections caused by bacteria, fungi or at times, parasites in the urinary tract of the dog.

The urinary tract includes organs like the bladder, kidneys, ureters, and urethra. The bacteria in the environment or the intestines enter the urethra and consequently, proliferate in the urinary bladder.

As a result, an acute infection hits the dog and symptoms like frequency of urination, bloody urination and so on show up. Urinary tract infections for dogs can be extremely painful, causing a lot of irritation and discomfort.

What causes UTIs in dogs?

Urinary tract infections for dogs primarily occur owing to the presence and spread of bacteria. Some other factors also become the causes of this infection, especially when the dog's overall health and immune system are already in bad condition, or weaker.

Senior dogs, as well as sexually active dogs, are more at risk than healthy adults.

Diagram of the urinary tract in the female dog.

Bacteria

Bacteria are definitely the most common causes of urinary tract infections in dogs. E.coli is the bacterium that enters upwards through the urethral opening and spreads in the entire urinary tract of the dog.

The bacteria can enter the intestinal area with feces or debris. On the other hand, the bacteria present in the environment quickly affect your dog if they are already suffering from a lack of immunity because of some illnesses or nutritional deficiencies.

Fungi

In some cases, especially lower urinary tract infections for dogs are caused by an overgrowth of the Candida fungus yeasts. This is not so common but you should not rule out the possibility.

The treatment of the infection, however, remains much the same, irrespective of the cause. However, the symptoms can be slightly varying.

Other health problems

Urinary tract infections for dogs are impossible without the presence of the bacteria. But sometimes, even a few traces of the bacteria easily make way into your dog's body. This is because of the health conditions and illnesses that the furry one might already be suffering from.

In some of the less common but severe cases, diseases like diabetes, kidney problems, lack of immunity and intake of steroids become major reasons behind canine UTI.

Symptoms of UTIs in dogs

There is a range of symptoms of urinary tract infections in dogs, some of which can be quite painful and alarming too. Common symptoms of UTIs in dogs include:

  • Dark or cloudy urine
  • Blood in the urine
  • Urination inside
  • Passing very little urine or dribbling urine
  • Drinking more water
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Licking urinary openings

Always give a call to your vet to confirm the symptoms and link them to an actual UTI.

A change in your dog's urinary habits and tendencies is a big indicator of UTI. When the urine is dark or cloudy in color, it is time to start worrying and determining the cause of the same.

At times, breaking housetraining is the first thing that draws your attention towards your dog's urine color. Unless you see a pinkish stain on the carpet or your otherwise well-trained and well-behaved dog peeing near the door, you cannot possibly find out the traces of blood in their urine and realize the emergence of UTI for dogs.

Once you become more observant of your dog's urinary habits, you might find him having some pain during urination. This is usually caused because he is able to pass very little urine. Apart from UTIs, diseases like prostate problems or a spinal cord injury can also be the causes of these symptoms. So, it is always advisable to take your dog to the vet as early as possible.

Other health symptoms

As other symptoms apart from urinary tendencies, a lack of appetite and an urge to drink more water will follow. The latter is because of a condition called psychogenic polydipsia and it happens because of the loss of minerals from your dog's body due to excessive urination.

You might also find your dog licking the urinary openings quite often. This is because he is trying to stop the pain that is ensuing around these openings. UTI for dogs raises his body temperature, leading to fever, vomiting, and lethargy, which again are common symptoms of urinary tract infections for dogs.

Treatments for dogs with Urinary Tract Infections

When it comes to urinary tract infections in dogs, the first thing to do is to consult a vet. Once symptoms show up, waiting longer only means increasing the pain and suffering of your pet. In fact, the condition gradually worsens.

Here are some of the treatment options to consider promptly.

Antibiotics

Antibiotics like Clavamox and Cephalexin are most common in treating urinary tract infections for dogs. These antibiotics are able to destroy as well as inhibit the growth of the bacteria. After the prescribed dosage, which might range from 7 to 10 days or more, the vet will recommend a follow-up urine culture. This will confirm the effect of the antibiotic and whether it has been successful in eradicating the infection of your dog.

In certain cases of complicated UTI, the vet might continue the antimicrobial therapy for as long as 4 to 5 weeks. To test the efficacy of the group of antibiotic, the urine culture is conducted typically after one week of the treatment.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Giving apple cider vinegar to your dog suffering UTI is an excellent home remedy. This is because apple cider vinegar is highly acidic in nature and it balances the pH of your dog's body, which is disturbed by the infection.

Add one teaspoon and two teaspoons of the liquid to our dog's water bowl for small and large-sized dogs respectively. Ideally, repeat up to two times a day for 7 days at a stretch.

Citrus Juice

Citrus juices, especially lemon, lime, orange and cranberry juices are good for treating urinary tract infections for dogs. They further help in balancing the pH level while also fighting off the bacteria. They are good for flushing out your dog's system, helping him/her recover fast.

Vitamin C Tablets

A good dose of Vitamin C helps your dog's system by eliminating the bacteria and its effects. A dog usually makes its own Vitamin C in the livers but while suffering from UTI, the production of Vitamin C reduces or stops.

That is why you need to give your dog Vitamin C in the form of tablets and supplements because they are filled with natural antioxidant properties.

Increasing fluids

With regards to treating urinary tract infections for dogs, the more fluid your dog consumes, the faster is his body capable of flushing out the infection.

At times, the infection makes it difficult for the dog to urinate properly and there is an accompanying pain. The increased intake of fluids saves your dog from this discomfort and regularizes the urine flow.

For dogs that aren't naturally thirty, use a dog water fountain (outdoor ones are great, too). These are known to stimulate thirst and dogs favor them.

Cranberries or Blueberries

Cranberries and blueberries are rich in Vitamin C and act as good antioxidants. Just like cranberry juice is recommended for humans suffering from UTI, dogs with urinary tract infections too can benefit from this.

You can also give your dog cranberries and blueberries in the form of tablets and supplements, of course after consultation with the vet.

Long, warm baths

This is not exactly a treatment but a way of relieving the pain caused by urinary tract infections for dogs. The infection leaves your dog's muscles sore and painful.

That's why you should ideally let your dog soak in a hot bath for at least 10 minutes daily to reduce the pain and relieve the muscles. Just make sure that the water is not too hot but lukewarm and that the level is not too deep.

How long does it take for a dog's UTI to clear up?

Urinary tract infections for dogs usually clear up in about 7 to 10 days. However, in certain severe conditions, it might take more than 2 weeks.

If you find your dog whimpering during urination or showing some other symptoms even after the expected period, then you must immediately take him to the veterinarian for further tests. This is because the reason behind these continuing symptoms might be a serious kidney or prostate problem.

Preventing UTIs in dogs

It is always better to take some precautions and prevent urinary tract infections in your dog beforehand, rather than treat the disease once it has already hit your dog.

Accordingly, the following are some of the preventive measures to keep your dog healthy and also save your money on vet bills and insurance premiums.

Keep your dog well groomed – This is particularly relevant for the dogs with thick coats and hair. Keeping your dog well groomed prevents the bacteria and fungi from forming in their body and thereby, getting their way into your dog's internal system.

Bathe your dog regularly – With regular bathing, make sure that you especially take care of cleaning the area around his/her genitals because that is the entry point of the bacteria causing urinary tract infections for dogs.

Make your dog drink plenty of fresh water and walk regularly – The more water your dog takes in, the more will his bladder flush out. Drinking fresh water cleanses a dog's system and makes them urinate more, which in turn, empties the bladder from bacteria. Taking your dog out for a walk, at least in the garden, will further help prevent UTI to a large extent.

Can I give my dog AZO for a UTI?

You should never give AZO for treating urinary tract infections for dogs. Some versions of AZO contain phenazopyridine as the active ingredient, which is absolutely risky for dogs.

AZO also has the risk of causing hemolysis or the destruction of red blood cells. It even causes permanent muscle and liver damage. That is why; it is a strict no-no when it comes to urinary tract infections for dogs even though it might be recommended for humans.

This basically sums up everything you need to know about urinary tract infections for dogs in order to treat your dog right and prevent the disease from affecting your pooch too much.

Should I give my dog cranberry juice?

Cranberry is a natural cleanser and helps dogs and humans with UTI. You can give Cranberry juice to help soothe and reduce urinary tract infections for dogs.

However, make sure that it is unsweetened and that your dog consumes it either in the form of juice or healthy dog foods and supplements. It is still better to consult a vet before giving cranberry juice to your UTI affected dog.

Again, always prefer the real fruit over any processed version of it (treats, dried, juice, etc).

Infographic: all about cranberries for dogs! (via petmoo)

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