Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) in dogs: What is it & what are the signs your dog might have one?

Fido whined when he was trying to urinate the other day, and then last night he left a very uncharacteristic puddle of pee on the dining room floor. On closer inspection the puddle had a pinkish tinge. A panic trip to the vet and a UTI was diagnosed. Thanks to a good dose of antibiotics, he’s on the mend. But he’s never had a UTI before, so what is it, and how did he get one?

Urinary tract infections (or UTI’s) are actually quite common in dogs. But unless you know your pooch well and know what to look for, they could go left untreated, which could lead to a host of potential problems down the line. So it is important to get the issue sorted pronto. And as humans we know how uncomfortable and painful they can be, so you wouldn’t want your furry friend to suffer for any longer than they have to, right?

What is a UTI

As the name suggests, a urinary tract infection is an infection of the urinary tract, most commonly occurring in the bladder. UTIs are more common in female dogs, because it is much easier for bacteria to enter their shorter urethra than it is in males.

The most common organism to cause UTIs in dogs is E-coli but there could be any number of organisms at play. Dogs with certain medical conditions could also be predisposed to UTIs, such as dogs with inflammation of the bladder, diabetes, bladder stones, or cancer. 

Symptoms of UTIs in dogs

If only dogs could talk! But unless you live inside a Disney movie, you need to keep a keen eye out for any of the early signs. These can be one or more of the following:

  • Frequent urination
  • Dribbling urine
  • Urinating inside the house
  • Blood in the urine
  • Crying out / whining when urinating
  • Straining when urinating
  • Strong-smelling urine
  • Persistent licking of the genital area
  • Fever
  • Weight loss

What to do if you suspect a UTI

If you notice any of the above symptoms and suspect a UTI, take your dog to the vet immediately.  If left untreated, the infection could travel up to the kidneys, which opens your pooch up to a whole new set of potentially life-threatening medical concerns. It could also be a sign that he could be suffering from a more serious condition such as a prostate infection. Either way, he would need to be examined by a vet so that the best course of treatment can be prescribed, which could be one of the following:               

  • Antibiotics – to fight the infection. Make sure you finish the course to avoid re-infection
  • Lifestyle changes – such as increased water intake and a change in diet
  • Urinary acidifiers or alkalinizers – to control the pH in the urine
  • Surgery – to remove bladder stones
  • Additional treatment if an underlying condition is discovered. Eg removal of tumour, diabetes etc

How to prevent UTIs in dogs

Always make sure your dogs have plenty of fresh, clean water available for drinking. Encourage them to drink often (this flushes out the system) and make sure they are let out often to do their business (it’s not good for them to ‘hold it in’). Try and make sure the area around the urethra is clean and free from dirt and scratches.  And lastly, vets often recommend giving your dogs a probiotic to keep the gut healthy. And be sure to chat to him or her about any additional advice they might have with regards to UTI prevention.

If your dog keeps on getting recurring UTIs or other urinary tract conditions, this could be a sign of a more serious condition, and your vet would need to do further tests to get to the bottom of it, to prescribe the best course of action.

If you have any questions or concerns with regards to your pets, it is advisable to consult a registered veterinarian. This article is intended as an educational tool and should not be used to diagnose or treat a sick animal.

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