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A dog bladder infection can be painful and distressing for your dog.
Untreated, a UTI can lead to serious health problems including kidney infection and/or damage, and the formation of urinary stones or crystals.
A urinary tract infection like this can even completely prevent your poor dog from urinating by blocking the urethra.
This is a medical emergency and potentially life threatening!
A simple bladder infection caused by an overgrowth of bacteria can usually be cleared up pretty quickly with a round of the correct antibiotics prescribed by your veterinarian.
But there are sometimes other factors or complications which occur and it's vital to have your vet make an accurate diagnosis so that treatment is effective.
Dog urinary problems such as UTI's are more common in female dogs than in males.
Puppies are also at a slightly higher risk.
This is because female dogs, and puppies, have short urethras which allow bacteria to travel through them to the bladder fairly easily.
Occasionally a physical problem with the vulva (obviously only in females), bladder or urethra can cause repeated UTI's in dogs.
Injury, hormone imbalances, cancer, diabetes, kidney problems or prostate issues can cause bladder problems in both male and female dogs.
Certain medications can also play a role in causing crystals or stones to form. These include cortico-steroids and certain canine heart medications.
In male dogs, bladder problems are less likely to be caused by bacteria than in females.
Some breeds are predisposed to develop bladder stones or crystals (there are two common types of stones) which can cause, or be the result of, a dog bladder infection.
These include English Bulldogs, Dalmatians, Russian Terriers, Newfoundlands, Scottish Deerhounds, Miniature Schnauzers, Miniature Poodles, Yorkshire Terriers, Shih Tzus, Dachshunds and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.
There are two main types of bladder stones. These can either cause a bladder infection or be a result of one.
Because any dog can develop a canine bladder infection, at any age, it's important for dog owners to be able to recognize when there's a problem in this area.
This page will help you recognize the signs of bladder infection in your dog and give you the tips and advice you need to get her well again, and to prevent recurring bladder problems.
Your dog can't tell you that it hurts or burns when she/he pees, or that she feels achy or shivery.
Fifi can't even tell you if she's in so much pain that it feels as though her bladder will burst.
Fortunately there are some symptoms of canine urinary tract infection which are pretty easy to spot:
A dog with a bladder infection is going to feel the urge to pee much more often than normal.
Sometimes she may only pass a few drops each time.
Straining, whimpering or repeated squatting to pee, with little to show for it, are common.
Fifi's urine may look cloudy, have an unusual smell (may smell 'strong'), or be tinged with blood (see below).
A urinary infection causes such an intense urge to pee that your dog is likely to be unable to control her bladder.
Sudden 'potty training accidents' in a previously house-trained dog are often a sign of a bladder infection, or other physical bladder problem.
Poor Fifi may also dribble or leak urine when sleeping, or even when awake.
If your dog has a urinary tract infection it is likely to cause a LOT of irritation and inflammation in the urethra and bladder.
This leads to bleeding which can often (but not always) be seen in her urine.
It may be just a trace of blood, or in more severe cases her urine may be pink or even red.
In an attempt to relieve the itching and burning she feels, your dog may lick at her privates quite obsessively.
Intense licking at the genital area, sometimes accompanied by whining, is often a sign of a bladder infection in dogs.
If Fifi has a bladder infection she is going to be feeling pretty unwell.
She's in pain, needs to pee ALL the time and may well have a fever, which is all miserable for her.
This can lead to loss of appetite, lethargy or disinterest in the things she usually enjoys.
In severe cases, or if the infection has been ongoing for some time, you might notice that she's losing weight, has an excessive desire to drink water or vomits.
It's important to be sure that your dog does have a bladder infection before treatment begins, so your vet will run some tests to be sure.
A urinalysis is usually the first step in diagnosing a canine urinary tract infection - this is when your vet tests a sample of Fifi's urine for bacteria and other elements.
This test allows your veterinarian to learn what type of bacteria is causing the infection, and also detects pus, protein, blood and anything else which may show up in her urine.
Sometimes blood tests will also be run. These can check for kidney problems as well as other infections.
An X-ray or ultrasound may be done to rule out (or identify) bladder stones or crystals, or something other than a simple infection.
For a dog bladder infection which is caused by bacteria, a round of the correct antibiotics usually fixes things up quickly and effectively.
This is great news for a condition which is as uncomfortable and quick to flare up as a UTI!
Your vet will use the results of the urinalysis to decide which medication is the best choice to eradicate the particular strain of bacteria in Fifi's urine.
It's very important to make sure that your dog takes ALL the prescribed medication, at the right times, so that the bacteria is completely eliminated.
If you don't see an improvement within 48 hours, or Fifi seems to be feeling worse, let your vet know asap.
Sometimes the medication needs to be changed or dosage 'tweaked'. Don't make any changes yourself.. always call your vet for advice.
Your dog's urine will most likely be tested again after the full course of medications have been taken, to make sure all bacteria is gone.
Sometimes an anti-inflammatory will be prescribed as well, or medicine to help with the pain.
Making sure she drinks plenty of water is also recommended at all times (in fact drinking lots of water can play a role in preventing bladder infection and stone/crystal formation in dogs).
If test results and examination show other problems such as bladder stones (there are two main types of these Struvite and Calcium Oxalate) then they will also need to be treated.
Your vet will decide which option is the right one for Fifi or Fido depending on the type of bladder stones he/she has, how many there are and how big they are.
Bladder stones in male dogs are more likely to block the urethra, so removing them quickly and completely is especially important - particularly if there are a lot of stones.
Any other underlying health condition will also need to be treated.
This includes conditions such as diabetes or adrenal disease, as well as a physical abnormality or injury.
Treating a bladder infection and/or bladder stones sometimes requires your vet to use a combination of the above options.
There are also natural products which can help a dog bladder infection, but I wouldn't personally recommend these as the only treatment.
If there is a true infection, antibiotics are needed. Bladder stones need professional evaluation too and the right treatment.
Natural remedies can often be used in conjunction with veterinary treatment and in this situation can be very beneficial.
There are also many natural products which are effective at maintaining good bladder health and preventing UTI's and other bladder problems.
Once infection has set in your dog needs veterinary care.
There is no sure-fire, 100% guaranteed way to prevent your dog from developing a bladder infection - but there are things you can do to lessen the risk.
Make sure your dog always has access to clean, fresh water... and that she drinks it!
Drinking enough keeps urine from becoming concentrated and also encourages your dog to pee regularly.
Both of these can help prevent the conditions in which bacteria thrive and/or stones form.
If urine sits in the bladder too long it can become an ideal breeding ground for bacteria.
So, making sure Fifi empties her bladder regularly, and fully, is important.
Some dogs (and especially puppies) need to pee several times during one potty break.
Just because she squats once don't assume she's empty!
Certain ingredients in some commercial pet foods are thought to be trigger factors for both common types of bladder stones in dogs (Struvite and Calcium Oxalate).
This is due to the the effect they have on the acid levels of your dog's urine.
Certain dog foods have been designed with this in mind.
These foods are formulated to maintain the correct balance of minerals and a healthy urine pH, both of which your dog needs to keep bladder infections and bladder stones at bay.
Studies have shown that the right diet can prevent dog bladder stones from reforming, so it's a simple but very effective way to keep Fifi safe.
For a dog who has had even one incidence of bladder stones, a prescription diet specifically designed for them is recommended... for the rest of their lives.
As early symptoms of a dog bladder infection or bladder stones can be vague at first, it's important to have your vet test Fifi's urine and do a physical exam regularly.
Catching a problem early means that it's easier, faster (and usually much less expensive) to treat.
Giving your dog probiotics regularly may help.
Studies show that these can prevent bacteria build-up and also support a healthy immune system which fights off infection much more effectively.
If your dog has had a bladder infection or bladder stones it's important to be vigilant about preventing recurrence... and watching for symptoms of potential trouble.
Testing Fifi's urine at home periodically (or if you think there might be a problem) can give you a head start on getting treatment started
You can use a complete at-home kit like this one - Urinary Tract Infection Test Kit which gives accurate results in just two minutes.
This kit can detect blood, white blood cells, and nitrite in the urine. Kit contains two tests so you can test again later if needed.
For quick and easy collection of Fifi or Fido's urine, use the P-scoop Dog Urine Collector.
The PawCheck Test Kit can detect a dog bladder infection as well as indicators of diabetes and kidney failure.
Again, test results are available in two minutes and two test kits are provided.
Or you can buy urine testing strips which change color depending on the acid/alkali balance of the urine you collect, such as Solid Gold Urine pH testing strips for Dogs & Cats
Here are a few products which given regularly can help keep Fifi and Fido's bladders healthy, hopefully preventing bladder infections and/or bladder stones from developing.