Urinary tract infections (UTIs) in dogs are no fun for anyone. They’re painful for your pooch and can cause a house-trained dog to have accidents around the home. It’s important to know the signs of a UTI, so you can take your dog to the veterinarian and have it treated as soon as possible.
Causes of UTIs in Dogs
A UTI happens when bacteria enters the urethra and results in an infection that can affect the urinary tract, bladder, and kidneys. It’s not always possible to determine the cause of a UTI in dogs, but it can be influenced by factors including:
- A weakened immune system
- Abnormalities in the structure of the urinary tract
- Tumors in the bladder or urinary tract
- Illnesses such as diabetes
UTIs can lead to complications, including bladder stones and kidney damage. In addition, they can cause prostatitis in male dogs. Prostatitis is an infection of the prostate gland that is more common in older dogs or those who have not been neutered. This is just one of many reasons why it’s so important to neuter your dog.
Neutering not only prevents unexpected litters of puppies, it has important health benefits, including protecting against UTIs, preventing testicular cancer, and helping to reduce aggression. It can also eliminate unwanted behaviors, such as mounting people or objects. For instance, neutered dogs won’t be tempted to roam away in search of a mate, which can lead to them getting lost or injured. Learn more about neutering at the ASPCA’s website.
Dogs at Risk for UTIs
UTIs can happen to dogs of any breed or age, but their likelihood increases as the dog gets older. Both males and females can get UTIs, but they are more common in female dogs. This is because they have a wider and shorter urethra, which makes it easier for troublesome bacteria to set in.
Dog UTI Symptoms
Like bladder infections in people, UTIs in dogs can be very painful. If your dog has a UTI, you might notice a number of signs, including:
- Straining to urinate – Dogs with a UTI might strain to pee and be unable to go at all. They may also arch their backs, cry, or whine when they try to go to the bathroom because of the pain.
- Blood in the urine – Blood or other discharge in the urine is a sure sign that something is up with your pup. Keep in mind that not all dogs with UTIs will have this symptom, but if you notice it, you should contact your veterinarian.
- Increased thirst – It can be hard to tell if your dog is drinking more water due to a UTI, especially in the summertime. But you should take note if you’re filling your dog’s water bowl more often than usual.
- Frequent urination – If your dog can normally get through a good part of the day without having to pee, but then suddenly needs to go out every hour or two, a UTI might be to blame.
- Bathroom accidents – Dogs with a UTI can also have accidents around the house even though they are fully housebroken. This can happen because the dog is in pain or can’t control the flow of urine. UTIs can also cause a dog to leak pee even after they’ve gone to the bathroom.
Other symptoms of a UTI can include vomiting, strong smelling urine, and a reduced appetite.
Puppies and UTIs
It can be more difficult to tell if puppies have a UTI since they tend to urinate more frequently than older dogs. Bathroom accidents due to a UTI can also be mistaken for potty training mistakes. If your puppy is fairly housetrained and still peeing all over the house, it’s a good idea to bring them to the veterinarian to rule out a UTI.
If you suspect that your dog has a UTI, it’s best to get to the veterinarian as soon as possible. Early detection is important since it can help avoid complications, like kidney damage. Plus, UTIs can be very painful, and you don’t want your dog to suffer needlessly.
To diagnosis a UTI, your veterinarian will examine your dog and perform a urinalysis to check for an infection and evaluate kidney function. Further diagnostic tests, such as a culture and blood work, may also be conducted to determine the type of infection and rule out other health issues. In addition, X-rays may be taken to see if there are stones or abnormalities in the urinary tract or bladder.
Treatment will depend on your dog’s specific situation, but will include antibiotics if there is a bacterial infection. Your veterinarian may also recommend fluid therapy to flush out the urinary tract and kidneys, and pain medication if needed. If your dog has bladder stones, surgery may be required to remove them.
If your dog needs to take antibiotics, be sure to follow your veterinarian’s instructions carefully and don’t stop the antibiotics – even if your dog appears to be feeling better. The UTI could recur if the treatment is not completed properly.
Home Prevention of UTIs
There is no tried and true method for preventing UTIs in dogs, but there are some things you can do at home to help avoid them. For instance:
1. Encourage your dog to drink plenty of water by making sure a clean and fresh bowlful is always available.
2. Toss a few ice cubes in your dog’s water bowl to keep it cool and make it more tempting to drink on hot days.
3. Consider purchasing a pet drinking fountain. Lots of dogs love to drink running water and might drink more frequently from a fountain.
4. Ask your veterinarian if probiotics could be helpful, especially if your dog has chronic UTIs.
5. Clean your dog’s food bowl often to keep it clear of harmful bacteria or mold. This is particularly important if you leave dry food out for your dog to nosh on freely.
6. If your dog has chronic UTIs, talk with your veterinarian about switching to a dog food made specifically to promote urinary tract health.
An annual check-up is also important to help your dog stay healthy and avoid issues like UTIs.
ASPCA Pet Health Insurance customers have submitted claims anywhere from around $500 to over $2,300 to treat a UTI.*
Costs of Treating a UTI
The costs of caring for a dog with a UTI vary depending on the types of treatments needed. ASPCA Pet Health Insurance customers have submitted claims anywhere from around $500 to over $2,300 to treat a UTI.* Do you have coverage in case your dog gets a UTI or other common canine illnesses? See the options for your dog now.
* Internal Claims Data 2015