Dog Urinary Tract Infections
From Pet Health Learning Center
Signs and Symptoms
Just as humans can suffer from aggravating urinary tract infections, so too can dogs. In fact, canine urinary tract infections are almost as common as those that affect humans. Urinary tract infections are painful and uncomfortable, and can also be quite dangerous if they spread to other organs, such the kidneys. For these reasons, it's important to be able to recognize the signs of such infections early on so that a dog afflicted with a urinary tract infection can be diagnosed and treated as promptly as possible. This will provide the animal with much-needed relief while also restoring and protecting its health.
When dogs suffer from urinary tract infections, there are a number of signs and symptoms that will typically be displayed. One of the most common warning signs is frequent urination, and a dog with this type of infection may want to be let outdoors more often because of this. In addition, this may cause the dog to urinate in unusual or inappropriate places, such as in the house. The affected animal will likely experience pain and have difficulty when urinating, causing it to strain and whine or cry. Sometimes a dog will exhibit a reluctance to urinate because of this pain and discomfort. Other signs to watch out for include cloudy or bloody urine, or a foul smell accompanying the dog's urine.
In some cases, dogs with urinary tract infections will show an unusual increase in thirst. Fever, lethargy, and a loss of condition are also common symptoms. Another warning sign to watch out for is tenderness in the dog's lower abdominal area, near the location of its bladder. If these symptoms seem to describe what your dog is going through, he or she could very well be suffering from a urinary tract infection. Be sure to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible so that your pet can be examined and diagnosed. While not all urinary tract infections are serious, they have the potential to become so if left unchecked; so by ensuring that your furry friend receives prompt and effective treatment, you'll be helping to restore and protect his or her health and happiness.
If you suspect that your dog may be suffering from a urinary tract infection, be sure to describe all of the symptoms and behaviors that you have observed in the home environment to your veterinarian. The practitioner will take these observations into account when conducting their assessment of your pet. The veterinary doctor will go over your dog's medical history and will conduct a physical examination, checking for clinical signs. If the doctor believes that a urinary tract infection is a likely or potential cause of your pet's discomfort, he or she will use urinalysis in order to make a confident diagnosis.
Urinalysis involves the examination of the dog's urine in order to check for the presence of abnormal substances that could be indicative of a urinary tract infection. Some such substances include blood, white blood cells, protein, and sugar. A bacterial urine culture will also be conducted, which will allow the veterinarian to identify any bacteria that may be present. Urine samples can be collected from a dog by having the animal urinate into a cup or by retrieving urine directly from the bladder via catheterization or a needle.
A dog's urinary tract consists of ureters, a bladder, and a urethra. A dog normally has two kidneys, and these organs provide the location where urine is formed. Each kidney is attached to a ureter, which is a small muscular tube that contracts to push liquid along in waves. Urine travels down the ureters and into the bladder, where it accumulates. The bladder is an expandable organ that increases in size as the volume of urine increases. When the bladder fills, the brain receives nerve signals which are then translated into a need to urinate. A circular, muscular structure called a sphincter links the bladder to the urethra. During urination, this sphincter opens, allowing urine to flow out of the bladder and into the urethra. At the same time, the bladder contracts, forcing the urine into the urethra. Abdominal wall muscles also tighten at this point, adding more pressure to help with the emptying of the bladder.
This system of excreting urine fulfills the urinary tract's primary function, which is to eliminate metabolic waste products from the animal's body. Other important functions of a dog's urinary system include maintaining a balanced extracellular environment by conserving and eliminating water and electrolytes; metabolizing vitamin D into its active form; and producing the hormones erythropoietin and renin, which are responsible for regulating sodium adsorption, the formation of blood (hematopoiesis), and blood pressure.
Most infections of the canine urinary tract are bacterial infections. Generally, these infections begin in the urethra and spread up into the bladder. From there, the infection can potentially spread further up into the kidneys, where it can cause serious and dangerous health problems. Sometimes these infections can also spread to the lining of the animal's heart, the prostate, or other organs. Some of the organisms that most commonly cause bacterial urinary tract infections in dogs include E. coli, Staphylococcus, Klebsiella, and Streptococcus. When harmful bacteria do infect a dog's urinary system, they can cause significant pain and discomfort. Even when such an infection does not spread to other parts of the dog's body, it can still make your pet's life very uncomfortable and miserable.
As previously discussed, most canine urinary tract infections are the result of a bacterial infection. Occasionally, they are caused by bladder stones or stones of the urinary tract (urolithiasis). There are a number of contributing factors that make a dog more susceptible to developing such infections. For example, female dogs are more likely to experience urinary tract infections than male dogs. This is due to the fact that a female dog's urethra is wider and shorter than a male dog's urethra. Dogs with other medical conditions, such as diabetes mellitus and hyperadrenocorticism, are also more prone to developing urinary tract infections. Additional contributing factors include urine retention or other abnormalities affecting urine flow, low urine concentration, and weaknesses of the dog's immune system.
Since canine urinary tract infections are most often caused by bacteria, antibiotics are the most common form of treatment. Antibiotics can be very effective in such situations, quickly clearing up the infection. However, antibiotics may not always be the best choice, as over use can lead to antibiotic resistance. This is a particular concern with dogs that experience frequent and reoccurring urinary tract infections. In circumstances where another treatment method is needed or preferred, there are several homeopathic and natural remedies available that can be quite effective with respect to reducing symptoms and clearing up infections.
Homeopathic remedies designed to treat canine urinary tract infections contain a variety of natural substances that provide an array of beneficial properties and effects for canine patients. For example, a number of herbs such as goldenrod and juniper berry are known to soothe urinary tract irritation while providing the system with support. Other herbs like arctostaphylos uva ursi and berberis vulgaris act as powerful, natural antibacterial agents that prevent bacteria from attaching to cell walls while also reducing inflammation and boosting the strength of the dog's immune system. By combining a number of such natural ingredients, homeopathic products can provide your pet with effective relief from its urinary tract infection.
Other ways to treat and prevent canine urinary tract infections include promoting your pet's overall health and well-being. Certain dietary supplements will boost your dog's immune system, making it less susceptible to developing infections of all types. For example, vitamin C and omega-3 fatty acids are known to improve immune system function. However, before administering any form of supplement or treatment, be sure to first consult with a veterinarian in order to ensure that the remedy and dosage are safe and appropriate for your individual dog.
In addition to the above remedies and supplements, making sure that your dog always has access to plenty of fresh, clean water will help to prevent the development of a urinary tract infection. When dogs don't drink very much, they also don't urinate very much. This means that bacteria are allowed to remain in the bladder, increasing the likelihood of an infection occurring. Providing your dog with lots of clean water will encourage it to take in more fluids, thereby reducing its susceptibility to developing an infection in its urinary system. In addition, it's also important to make sure that your dog has plenty of opportunities to urinate throughout the day. This can be achieved by letting your dog outdoors several times and by taking him or her out for walks at least twice a day. By following these simple steps, you will greatly reduce the likelihood of your dog experiencing a urinary tract infection while also promoting your pet's overall health and happiness.