How to Spot Bladder Infections in Dogs

How to Spot Bladder Infections in Dogs

Anyone who’s ever contracted a UTI knows how painful and frustrating they can be. You wouldn’t wish it upon anyone, especially not your pup! Unfortunately, bladder and urinary tract infections become more commonplace as dogs get older, and they keep coming back for those with certain underlying conditions.

Check out the signs of lower urinary tract infections in dogs and what you can do to stop them from occurring in the future.

Watch out for these symptoms

The symptoms of a lower urinary tract infection can vary among dogs. In rare cases, a dog might not show any symptoms at all. Some pet parents might not understand how to tell if their pooch is in pain, especially if the dog has grown accustomed to hiding their discomfort. Signs of a UTI can easily go unnoticed if owners don’t know which behaviors to look for.

Dogs with a bladder or urinary tract infection may exhibit one or several of the following symptoms:

  • Bloody, cloudy or foul-smelling urine
  • More frequent urination than usual
  • Constantly begging to go outside
  • Producing only small amounts of urine
  • Whimpering and discomfort while urinating
  • Licking the genitals
  • Inappropriate elimination around the house

This is by no means a complete list of potential symptoms for a urinary tract infection. Although less common, it’s possible for dogs to exhibit additional symptoms. Keep in mind, some symptoms are very broad and overlap with other health conditions. Always consult a veterinarian in order to receive a proper diagnosis.

Other potential symptoms of a UTI include:

  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Excessively drinking water
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Back pain

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Leading causes of bladder infections

The most common causes of bladder and urinary tract infections are harmful bacteria strains. Bacteria like E. coli and Staphylococcus thrive when the urine isn’t acidic enough and there’s inflammation along the walls of the lower urinary tract. Female dogs are more at risk for contracting UTIs because they have shorter urethras than their male counterparts. This makes it easier for bacteria to enter the urinary tract.

Bacteria accounts for most but not all bladder infections. Dogs often experience recurring infections if they have a history of bladder stones and urinary blockages. Stones usually result from a poor diet that consists of too much sugar and fat. For this reason, a change in diet might have to accompany antibiotics in order to prevent future infections.

Tumors can also lead to urinary blockages and infections. They inhibit the flow of urine through the urethra, which makes it hard for dogs to eliminate. The chance of infection increases when dogs aren’t able to fully empty their bladders. Pet parents should get their dogs checked out right away if they suspect a urinary tract infection, because some tumors are potentially cancerous.

Even dogs with a healthy diet and no underlying conditions can get urinary tract infections. In some cases, stress can weaken the immune system and leave your dog more vulnerable to bad bacteria. Stress caused by trauma, a change in environment or any number of factors can lower the overall immune response and pave the way for recurring UTIs.

Antibiotics and other treatments

Bladder and urinary tract infections are very easy to treat and usually have a good prognosis. Vets start off by prescribing a round of oral antibiotics that pet parents can administer at home. When given at the proper dosage, antibiotics will clear up lower urinary tract infections within a week. Make sure to finish the bottle of medication, even if your pup seems fine after a day or two. This will ensure the infection doesn’t come back.

Some dogs need more than antibiotics to recover from and keep UTIs at bay. Depending on the cause, your vet will tailor the treatment plan to your pup’s needs. For instance, they might recommend a diet that’s low in fat and sugar if your dog has bladder stones. A combination of antibiotics and dietary changes should help reduce the frequency of future infections. Surgery might also be necessary to remove the stones.

The vet might prescribe anti-inflammatory medication to reduce swelling of the urinary tract. Other treatments include urinary acidifiers or urinary supplements to restore the urine’s pH balance and stop bad bacteria from multiplying in the bladder.

If you’re unsure of whether your dog has a bladder or urinary tract infection, it’s always best to get a professional’s opinion. Vets can run a series of lab tests to determine the cause of your pup’s discomfort and move forward with the appropriate treatment plan. Prompt medical attention can catch more serious underlying conditions early on and stop UTIs from getting worse. But most of all, you’re saving Fido from unnecessary discomfort!