Our pets mean the world to us, and it is our duty to ensure that they are fed, exercised, and looked after properly so that they lead a long, happy life. Dogs cannot tell us if they are unwell or if something is wrong, so it is up to us as their carer to look for signs of distress or discomfort.
Urinary tract infections or UTIs are common in dogs – around 14% of dogs will get one in their lifetime. The condition needs to be treated as soon as possible as it can quickly escalate and become very serious.
The most noticeable and common sign that your dog has a urinary tract infection is that they will be in pain when they urinate. If your dog whimpers or winces when going to the toilet, and it is apparent that they are struggling to pass urine, they most likely have an infection.
Pain during urination is the most common symptom, but there are other symptoms to look out for. Take a look at your pet’s pee – if it is cloudy, strong-smelling, and has traces of blood in it, then your pup definitely has a UTI.
Urine infections in dogs cause some behavioral changes, too – your dog might start needing to urinate more frequently and have accidents around the home. They may try to ease their pain and discomfort by licking around the opening of their urethra and experience dribbling of urine without their usual level of control. In some cases, a fever may take hold of the dog.
Even if your dog doesn’t seem like they are in pain, it is essential that you take them to the vet to get treated as UTIs can quickly become more severe and spread the infection to the kidneys or bladder. In extreme cases, the infection can spread through the animal’s whole body and cause them to die of sepsis.
The urinary system is composed of the kidneys, bladder, ureters that connect the kidneys to the bladder, and the urethra, where urine exits the body. In dogs, UTIs are more common in the lower urinary tract, specifically in the urethra.
Urinary tract infections are most common in female dogs and those that are over the age of seven. Females are more likely to get lower urinary tract infections due to their physiology, and their urethra is shorter and closer to the anus than in male dogs. Fecal matter can enter the urethra and cause bacteria, usually Ecoli, to enter the system, or in some cases, fungi, Porteus, Staphylococcus, Klebsiella, Enterobacter, Streptococcus, Corynebacterium, or Pseudomonas can be the culprits.
Certain breeds are genetically predisposed to contracting UTIs. Shih Tzus, Yorkshire Terriers, and Bichon Frises are prone to urinary tract infections, kidney stones, and bladder stones. However, dogs of all breeds, sizes, and genders can get UTIs.
As soon as your dog show signs of urinary stress, take them to the vet. If possible, take a sample of your pet’s urine collected during the mid-flow of urination. Your vet will test the sample and will determine the best treatment. If the vet suspects that bladder crystals or kidney stones are present, they will need to do a full urinalysis, an ultrasound, and perhaps take an X-ray of the bladder and kidneys.
Bladder crystals are formed when there is an over-saturation of minerals with or without other underlying issues, such as a urinary tract infection within the bladder. The acidity of the urine plays a role in the formation of stones — this can be influenced by the presence of a bacterial infection or, less commonly, by an inappropriate diet.
Your vet may prescribe a course of antibiotics to treat your dog’s infection. You can help your pet by bathing them regularly and ensuring that their urethra is kept clean and free from foreign objects. Provide fresh drinking water for your dog, and make sure that their food and water bowls are kept spotless. Encourage your pet to drink plenty of water by making him thirsty through energetic activities. Drinking plenty of water will help keep them hydrated and flush out any bacteria from their urinary system.
Some pet owners swear by natural remedies to treat their pet’s ailments. CBD oil, cranberry pills, and apple cider vinegar are thought to have medicinal properties that will help ease or clear infection. Apple cider vinegar may act as an antiseptic and kill bacteria when added to your dog’s water or combined with natural yogurt. Cranberry is a known antioxidant, and it can prevent bacteria from adhering to the wall of the urinary tract.