Urinary Tract Infections in Dogs - What to Look For and How to Prevent Them
Author: Grant Eckert
Just like having a child, owning a dog is a great responsibility. Not only is this dog dependent on your food and for water, but they are also dependent on you for the proper health care. In order to be the best owner you can, you need to learn about some of the more common health problems that can occur with your dog. This will allow you to spot problems before they become too serious, saving not only your dog, but also your rising veterinarian costs. Urinary tract infections are commonplace in some breeds of dogs - here's what you need know.
What is a Urinary Tract Infection?
Just as with any disease, when bacteria get into the body and reproduce without being stopped, it can lead to an infection. When too many bacteria somehow get into the urinary tract of a dog, this can lead to a urinary tract infection. This is seen more often in female dogs than male dogs because they have a shorter urethra and thus bacteria can accumulate here more rapidly.
There are a number of places where the bacteria can also accumulate in dogs. For females, it's in their vaginal area while for males the prostate area can hold bacteria. When this bacteria is then somehow transferred to the urethra and into the urinary tract.
Also known as a UTI or acute cystitis, a urinary tract infection is not necessarily harmful to a dog in the early stages. And in many cases, a dog will have a UTI for a long time without any symptoms. In other situations, the infection may also resolve on its own without any medical intervention.
But if a urinary tract infection is left alone for too long, it can cause a more severe infection in the dog, often moving to other organs and causing the dog to become very ill. It's best that any signs of a urinary tract infection by checked by a licensed vet to be sure that your dog doesn't require treatment.
What are the Signs of a Urinary Tract Infection?
Since a dog can not tell you their symptoms, it's up to you to keep your eyes open for signs of a urinary tract infection. These signs can include:
- Blood in the urine
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Foul smelling urine
- Straining when urinating
- Tender lower stomach area
- Urinating in inappropriate places
If you should notice any changes in your dog's urination habits, it might be a good idea to have them checked by a veterinarian. You know your dog best, so even the slightest change in behavior might be an indicator of something wrong.
As a responsible dog owner, it's best to watch your dog's urination habits anyway to be sure they are staying well hydrated.
How Will a Urinary Tract Infection be Treated?
When you take your dog into the vet's office, they will have to get a urine sample in order to test for bacteria. If you can do this beforehand, that's ideal, making sure not to contaminate the sample with your fingers or with any dirt from the dog.
If the urine tests positive for bacteria or for blood, the vet will then begin a course of antibiotic treatment to help the infection resolve. This treatment can last up to ten days and may require additional medications if the first round of medicine doesn't work.
It's very important that the dog receive all of the prescribed medication as instructed by the vet. If your dog should have troubles with the medication, refuse to take it, or have an upset stomach, be sure to talk to your vet about alternatives.
You will also want to remember that human medications like antibiotics are not necessarily in the right doses for dogs, so you should never give them antibiotics from your shelf or try any alternative treatments with a vet's approval.
What Can You Do to Prevent a Urinary Tract Infection?
While a urinary tract infection is common, that doesn't mean that there aren't ways to help prevent its occurrence. Here are some simple ways to make sure bacteria stays out and away from your dog:
- Bathe your dog regularly
- Make sure that your dog is drinking ample amounts of clean water each day
- Take your dog out every few hours to allow them to urinate regularly and prevent the buildup of bacteria in their bladder
- Make sure to walk your dog regularly as this stimulates the bladder
Your dog may have a urinary tract infection at one point in their life, no matter what you do. But knowing what to look out for and how to minimize the risk will help you keep your dog as healthy as possible.