Location: San Diego

Just like humans, dogs can contract urinary tract infections. And, also just like us, it’s highly unpleasant for them.

In its early stages, canine urinary tract infection (called cystitis in medical speak) can be difficult to spot because clinical symptoms aren’t always recognizable and even though these infections are painful, dogs often have a high pain threshold and will suffer in silence. But there are a few signs you can look out for that are telltale signs of a UTI:

Frequent urination
Increased thirst
Blood in urine
Difficulty urinating
Cloudy urine
Urinating in uncustomary places like inside the house
Abnormally smelling urine
Loss of appetite
Inflammation of the external genitalia
Licking of the vulva in females
Vaginal discharge in females

If your dog is showing any of these signs, it may be a sign that they are suffering from a urinary tract infection.

In dogs, a simple urinary tract infection is commonly caused by bacteria, either intestinal or environmental. They enter and ascend the urethra of your dog, proliferating in your poor pooch’s urinary bladder. In rare cases, the infections can be caused by fungi or viruses.

With these so called simple UTIs, infections can spring up anywhere along the dog’s urinary tract. If the infection goes up into a place like the kidneys, it could cause some potentially serious problems like kidney infections and septicemia.

While female dogs are more vulnerable to these simple infections because of their shorter urethras, male dogs can get them, too.

Recurring infections are a sign that your dog might have a complicated UTI, one that has an underlying reason for recurring. These are more difficult to identify and treat because the underlying cause of them must be dealt with. Causes of recurrent UTIs in dogs include bladder tumors, polyps, uroliths (colloquially known as stones), cancer, kidney failure, neurological disorders and elevated pH levels in urine that promote bacteria growth and diabetes. On top of all that, recurring UTIs also might be caused by bacterial resistance to antimicrobial drugs.

Detection of a UTI in your dog need not be complicated. A veterinarian will usually do a routine urinalysis as part of your dog’s annual check up. If you are between vet visits and you suspect that your dog might have a UTI, there are inexpensive home testing kits on the market, like at, for example, that you can buy and conduct at home to let you know if you need to schedule a vet a appointment.

Antibiotics are the usual first wave of treatment for canine UTIs. Owners should of course take care to follow the vet’s instructions exactly when administering antibiotics and be sure to do the full cycle of treatment.

If the UTI returns, things get slightly more complicated. The vet will have to take a culture sample from the urine to see exactly what microorganism is responsible for it. The vet will also try to identify any preexisting conditions in the dog that might be the cause, such as the aforementioned conditions related to complicated UTIs.

While simple canine UTIs usually heal up well after a treatment of antibiotics, fungal infections can be more difficult and for complicated UTIs, the prognosis is quite variable from animal to animal depending on the circumstances.

So while UTIs are nasty and unpleasant for dog and owner alike, they are treatable and need only be a minor inconvenience to you and your pooch.

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