Urinary Tract Infections in Dogs

August 22, 2019 8 min read 0 Comments

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When it comes to giving our dogs the best lives possible, pet parents need to focus on their dog’s health to make sure that no health conditions are overlooked. To do this, our dogs require regular visits to the veterinarian combined with a high-quality diet and regular exercise. It’s important that no health problems are missed or diagnosed incorrectly. That said, pet parents need to keep their veterinarians updated on all their dog’s past and present medical conditions.

Recent studies have revealed that urinary tract infections affect more female dogs than males. Most infections that involve the urinary system are bacterial and enter the body via the urethra.

Besides being an extremely painful disorder, urinary tract infections need to be diagnosed early. With the urinary system being responsible for eliminating waste products when food is converted to energy, it also maintains the correct balance of electrolytes and water within the body’s cells.

The urinary tract system is also responsible for processing vitamin D. That said, it’s important that early diagnosis is made since bacteria can move up the bladder and infect the kidneys causing a painful kidney infection (pyelonephritis).

All dogs can be affected by a bacterial infection of the bladder (bacterial cystitis) and or urethra. There are several causes that will increase your dog’s chances of getting a urinary tract infection. These will result in problems with urine flow, not being able to empty the bladder properly, urine that is dilute, sugar in the urine which may be linked to diabetes, and a compromised immune system. Male dogs that have not been neutered may develop prostate bacterial infections.

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As dogs age, urinary tract infections and many other health issues may become more common. That said, stone formation, prostate disease, and tumors may also be diagnosed. Female dogs may be more prone to lower urinary tract infections. Additionally, dogs that have been treated with steroids or that suffer from hyperadrenocorticism may be prone to more bladder infections.

All bacterial infections of the urinary tract need to be treated immediately because the bacteria that are involved in urinary tract infections may be hard to treat with antibiotics. Bacteria tend to become resistant to antibiotics, if not treated effectively from the start of an infection. “The flow of urine through the urinary tract is part of the defense against invading pathogens because the flow of fluid rinses the epithelial linings. High urineantimicrobial concentrations are important for the eradication of bacteria in the urine, but for infection of the bladder wall or renal tissue, it is necessary to use antimicrobials that have active concentrations in the tissues. Serum or plasma concentrations are useful surrogate markers for antimicrobial concentrations in the renal or bladder tissues,” says Dr. Dowling, DVM, via MSD Veterinary Manual.

Causes of a Lower Urinary Tract Infection in Dogs

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There are numerous reasons that may predispose your dog to urinary tract infections, such as the following:

  • Tumors of the bladder or urinary tract
  • Bladder infection
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Cushing’s Disease
  • Some medications that work by suppressing the immune system
  • Bladder stones that have developed from urine crystals
  • Prostate Disease
  • Stress
  • Trauma
  • Congenital abnormalities
  • Spinal cord abnormality

Diagnosis

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Your veterinarian will make a diagnosis by taking a bacterial culture with or instead of a urinalysis. Cystocentesis is the method used to collect urine for a bacterial culture. A needle is used to collect urine directly from the bladder through the abdomen. During the veterinary examination, your veterinarian will examine your dog’s bladder, kidneys, genitalia, and rectum.

Rectum examinations allow for the urethra to be checked. With males, the prostate is examined. If your dog has problems urinating, additional tests will be required. These may include the following:

  • Blood tests
  • Blood pressure tests
  • X-rays
  • Ultrasonography
  • Contrast x-rays
  • Biopsies
  • Cystoscopic tests

What Are the Symptoms?

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  • Blood in Urine (Hematuria) at the end of a stream of urine
  • Problems with urination
  • Excessive urination in small amounts
  • Urinary incontinence (loss of bladder control)
  • Painful urination with increased straining
  • No symptoms in some cases
  • Cloudy urine
  • Vomiting
  • Whining from pain
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • General back pain
  • Licking of the urinary opening
  • Lack of appetite
  • Strong or unpleasant urine odor

How to Treat a Urinary Tract Infection?

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Dogs that keep getting urinary tract infections will need to have urine samples taken at regular intervals, from once a month, to once every three months. Your veterinarian will prescribe an oral antibiotic for two weeks or longer. That said, there are certain medications that tend to increase urinary tract infections in dogs. It’s best to consult with your veterinarian and advise as to all medications that your dog may be on.

Low-dose antimicrobial therapy for long term use in dogs that keep getting UTIs is advised, and in some cases may continue for many years.

“After 6 months of bacteria-free urine, the long term, low-dose antimicrobial therapy may be discontinued, and many animals will not have additional recurrences. In some cases, long-term therapy may be continued for years in animals that continue to have recurrent UTIs,” adds Dr. Dowling, via MSD Veterinary Manual.

CBD Hemp Oil Uses for Urinary Tract Infections

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CBD can be useful both in the treatment of inflammation and for pain relief with urinary tract infections. That said, it should not be used alone for pain relief, but in conjunction with a more traditional pain relief prescribed medication from your veterinarian. So far there have been no reports of prescribed medication interactions with CBD when used for pain relief in dogs.

Before going out and purchasing a CBD product for your pooch, consult with your veterinarian as to the best potency, brand, and dosage for your dog. Your veterinarian may recommend a higher CBD dosage of CBD (2mg/kg to 3mg/kg twice daily) to help with extreme pain.

CBD Hemp Oil May Help with The Following:

  • Inflammation
  • Pain Relief
  • May fight bacteria that enters the body (antibacterial)

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What to Look Out for When Purchasing a CBD Hemp Product for Your Dog?

With numerous studies demonstrating the benefits of CBD use for combatting the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation, alleviating pain, helping with anxiety and canine depression, and much more, it only makes sense that we purchase a high-quality hemp-derived product for our furry best friends.

CBD products have to be used in the right way with the correct dosing. Each and every CBD pet product will have different potencies and dosing charts. It’s important to consult with your veterinarian about which products are right for your pooch. 

How Cranberry Pills Can Help Your Dog Fight a Urinary Tract Infection

Cranberry supplements together with antibiotics are recommended by veterinarians to help treat urinary tract infections in dogs. With cranberry yielding numerous antioxidant benefits, it’s beneficial to dogs with UTIs because it prevents bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract wall. That said, cranberry supplementation is not a cure, and all dogs need to visit their veterinarian for treatment.

It’s important to note that these supplements must be specifically formulated for dogs. They are available as soft chew treats or in a powdered formula.

Cranberry Supplements for Dogs

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A recent study demonstrates that the” American cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon L) contains compounds -- such as proanthocyanidins (PACs) -- that provide meaningful antioxidant, anti-adhesion and anti-microbial properties that help fend off illness,” via The Cranberry Institute.

The study by Dr. Tufenkji, McGill University goes on to add that “cranberry’s role in preventing recurrent urinary tract infections by blocking bacteria from sticking to cell walls, the current study suggests that PACs may help control the virulence or spread of potentially dangerous bacterial infections around the world. The complete study can be accessed here: Cranberry-derived proanthocyanidins impair virulence and inhibit quorum sensing of Pseudomonas aeruginosa.” This study was supported by The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Additionally, in a 2019 study published by the American Chemical Society, it was noted that researchers found cranberry oligosaccharides in the urine of cranberry-fed pigs. The study went on to add that when the researchers checked for anti-adhesion activity against the E. coli bacteria that contribute to UTI’s, they were surprised to find the following:

“Proanthocyanidins, the compounds previously proposed to be responsible for cranberry's apparent UTI prevention properties, were absent from the active urine fractions. Instead, the researchers detected oligosaccharides called arabinoxyloglucans in those samples. These complex carbohydrates, related to cellulose, are difficult to detect and isolate, which could explain why they hadn't previously been identified as anti-adhesive components of cranberry,” via Science Daily.

Apple Cider Vinegar

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There are numerous cranberry supplements that contain apple cider vinegar. These are offered in delicious bacon or liver flavors. Apple cider is beneficial to dogs with urinary tract infections in that it works within a few hours after the first dose. It is both antibacterial and antiseptic, and will help to destroy bacteria, and prevent the growth of new bacteria.

It can be combined with plain organic yogurt, added to your dog’s water, or to a favorite peanut butter snack. It is also available in capsule form which can be easily immersed in dog food. Apple Cider vinegar may also be beneficial if given daily for maintenance.

Consult with your veterinarian for the best advice when using any home remedies to treat UTIs in dogs. That said, all dogs with UTIs need to visit their veterinarian first and foremost to get the correct treatment and prescribed medication.

Organic and Natural Citrus Juice

1-3 teaspoons of natural citrus juice added to your dog’s water or food helps with UTIs. Not only is this a favorite with pet parents because it’s packed with vitamins, but it also helps in getting rid of all bacteria and resolving UTI’s together with the prescribed antibiotics. That said, it’s best to stay away from juices that are loaded with sugars since they may aggravate the UTI. Juices can be blended with organic plain yogurt with fresh blueberries for optimal antioxidant benefits. Lemon juice may be too acidic for dogs, with low sugar cranberry and or orange juice being top picks for taste.

Fresh Water

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Dogs need fresh water all day long. With a UTI, it’s necessary to increase water intake so as to flush out all the bacteria and cleanse the kidneys. This needs to be a longterm plan because bacterial cystitis may be a recurring issue. Your veterinarian may also prescribe a low-dose antibiotic for your dog to be on for a while. This will prevent the infections from coming back, and will also prevent the bacterial infection from spreading into the kidneys.

If your dog is on a long term antibiotic, your veterinarian will need to do frequent urinalysis and bacterial cultures. You will also need to increase the amount of dog walks so as to encourage your dog to urinate more frequently. Encouraging your dog to drink more water through increased daily walks may also help prevent UTI’s. This will help to prevent the bacterial infection and pain from coming back.

While older dogs are more prone to getting urinary tract infections, mature female and male dogs with diabetes are likely to be most affected. You will need to discuss treatment options with your veterinarian after a diagnosis is made. That said, the immediate treatment of bacterial infections in dogs is important. If left untreated, a bladder or prostate infection can result in a kidney infection. Untreated urinary tract infections in dogs may also result in stone development(struvite) that may form in the urinary tract.

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urinary tract infections in dogs by Claudia Bensimoun

Claudia Bensimoun
Claudia Bensimoun is a freelance journalist and author, and specializes in veterinary content, and eBooks. She's a long-time feature writer for Animal Wellness magazine, Fido Friendly magazine, and the United States Dog Agility Association. In addition, Bensimoun has written for numerous pet websites, magazines, newspapers and online publications. Her interests include wildlife conservation, animal welfare, disaster/ humanitarian relief, veterinary research, and veganism.