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How to Know if You’re Dealing With a Dog UTI and What to do About it Team


Medically reviewed by

Your canine companion brings a lot of joy into your life. They’re there to greet you first thing in the morning with a sloppy kiss. When you get home after a long day at work or school, who is the first family member to meet you at the door, tail wagging and hips wriggling?

Your doggo is the one who helps you stay fit with those long hikes or throwing around a ball in the park. They’re in the middle of the action when company comes to visit or when there’s a celebration of some sort going on. Just looking at that bundle of energy that’s ready to play and explore at the drop of a hat can put a smile on your face!

So, it’s no wonder that you want to give them as much love as you can in return. You do your best to make sure they’re eating right, getting fresh air and exercise, and receiving enough mental stimulation. When something seems off with their mood, understandably you’re focused on finding out if there are health issues to be worried about.

One of the health problems that’s very common in dogs, no matter their age, is a urinary tract infection. Here’s how to recognize if your pet might be having urinary tract problems and what to do about it.

What is a UTI?

dog uti

In short, urinary tract infections (UTIs) are infections that occur in the urinary tract. These are usually caused by bacteria that invade your dog’s urinary tract and multiply to cause a painful inflammation. The most common bacteria involved is E. coli, although certain fungi can sometimes be to blame.

The offending bacteria is present in feces, so it may not be a stretch of your imagination to figure out how Fido picked it up! It’s quite likely that most dogs will have at least one bacterial infection in their life time. Having said that, there are some reasons why your canine may be at a higher risk for getting a UTI.

Female dogs are more prone to develop UTIs or bladder infections simply because they have a shorter urethra. This makes it easier for bacteria to enter the urinary tract of female dogs.

Dogs that have a chronic health condition are also more susceptible to contracting a contamination in their urinary system. For example, if your pooch suffers from kidney disease this can increase the danger.

Dogs who have diabetes mellitus, bladder stones, urinary tract or bladder tumors, or a weakened immune system also have a higher chance of getting a UTI.

At the same time, if your fur baby has a urinary tract infection, it can lead to further problems if left untreated. Bacteria can quickly move further into your dog’s system and cause a kidney infection, or a bladder infection.

As well, it can spread to your male pup’s prostrate gland and result in prostrate disease. In addition, complications may cause damage to the kidneys or bladder stones.

Symptoms of a UTI in Dogs

Symptoms of a UTI in Dogs

Certainly, any changes in behavior or signs of discomfort may be an indication that your doggo is dealing with a health problem. When it comes to dog UTI symptoms there are particular things to watch out for. Here they are:

Abdominal pain– If your pet is experiencing abdominal pain, they may be walking differently or their abdomen may be sensitive to the touch. Do they seem lethargic or are they curling up like they’re trying to protect their body? These symptoms could mean that a bacterial infection has spread further into their digestive system.

Back pain – When urine builds up in the kidneys or they have inflammation in these organs, your pup will experience back pain. If they’re moving with difficulty or flinching when you touch their lower back, this could be what’s happening.

Blood in urine – Blood in the urine can be a symptom of a UTI. Watch for this when you take them outside to do their business. Be aware that, if this persists, it could point to chronic kidney disease.

Difficulty holding urine– Notice if this is a new occurrence for your pooch. Some dogs pee a little when they get excited and, as they age, they may have difficulty holding their urine.

Difficulty urinating – Pay attention to how long it takes Scout or Sophie to urinate. Does it take a while for the stream of urine to start? Are they straining and arching their back? Symptoms like these could be the sign of a urinary tract infection, or it may be due to something more serious like a trauma or cancer.

Frequently urinating– If your pup seems to be asking to go outside for a pee more often, or looking for a location near the door to relieve themselves, this is also one of the signs of a UTI.

Increased thirst – Take note if your fur baby seems to be drinking more water than usual. As long as it’s not because they need to replenish fluids in hot weather, it might be a cause for concern.

Licking genitals – This is another one of the possible UTI symptoms. Your pooch will often clean themselves this way but if it appears excessive, they may be in pain.

Urine that looks cloudy – Cloudy urine is another of the symptoms you want to investigate.

Whimpering when urinating – The process of relieving themselves is painful when dogs have UTIs. Therefore, you may experience them crying or whimpering when they’re trying to go.

Above all, pay attention to any changes in your canine friend’s urination. Since this could suggest something that may warrant a trip to the veterinarian, you want to be on top of any worrying behavior and take action if needed.

How to Treat UTIs

If you believe your pet may have a urinary tract infection, this is not the time to try a home remedy! UTIs in dogs need swift diagnosis by your veterinarian and a course of antibiotics to treat them.

Be prepared that the veterinarian will probably ask you to bring in a urine sample. They will do a urine culture to look for bacteria. Plus, the urine culture will tell them if any crystals are present.

Crystals in the urine indicate that your pup may have stones in their bladder. An X-ray is another diagnostic method that may be used.

If the result is a bladder infection or urinary tract infection, expect that your canine will be given antibiotics. Your veterinarian may do susceptibility testing to make sure the drugs will be an effective treatment. Your vet might prescribe other medication, or therapy, or advise you to increase your canine friend’s water intake to help flush out the urinary system.

Follow to the letter the instructions that your vet gives you and you’ll have a happy and healthy pup back on your hands in no time at all!

When to Consult Your Veterinarian

vet visit for dog uti

The advice here is that it’s better to be safe than sorry. Unless your doggo’s peeing problem seems like a one-off situation and their water works appear back to normal, talk to the staff at the animal clinic and make a vet appointment. Otherwise, there are several big concerns with not following through.

First, if your dog is unable to pee and the urine is backing up in their system, it can actually cause their urinary bladder to rupture which can be fatal.

Secondly, if your doggo has a urinary tract infection you need to start 14 days of antibiotic treatment as soon as possible. If UTIs are left untreated they’ll cause your pup ongoing pain and discomfort and the contamination will spread. This means you dog may suffer all manner of harmful conditions.

These include long-term lower urinary tract dysfunction, an inflamed prostrate, infertility, bladder or kidney stones, cystitis, blood poisoning or even kidney failure.

Finally, if Roger or Rose doesn’t have a UTI, you need to find out quickly what’s causing their symptoms. That’s because there may be a more serious illness involved and your veterinarian may need to order some other tests.

The vet will want to investigate if there’s an obstruction such as a tumor or scar tissue that may be getting in the way of the urine flow. This might require an ultrasound or radiograph.

Expect them to do a physical exam to see if your pup has sustained any injuries, or there are signs of a degenerative disease that could be affecting the nerves responsible for controlling the bladder. Your vet will likely want to look into bladder cancer as well. The visit will involve doing blood work to determine the number of white blood cells.

How to Prevent UTIs in the Future

How to Prevent UTIs

There are a few preventative measures you can take when it comes to protecting your fur baby in the future. Following a several things to be mindful of.

Diet Changes

Dietary supplements may be recommended by your veterinarian to guard against further issues. You might have heard that giving your dog vitamin C or cranberry juice can help lower their risk. When considering any supplement that your vet hasn’t recommended themselves, it’s best to get their advice before you put something new on the menu.

Make Sure They Have Plenty of Fresh Water

One of the most important things you can do is to be sure to keep your dog’s bowl filled with fresh water. And this goes hand in hand with giving them lots of opportunities to urinate.

You’ll notice during walks that dogs will pee just a little a number of times on the route. This is their way of telling the neighborhood pooches “Fluffy was here!”

So, don’t rush them past each location when you think they’ve had enough outdoors time. Give them the chance to fully empty their bladder before going into the house again.

Introduce Probiotics to Their Diet

Probiotics can be beneficial for your doggo, just as they can be for us pet parents. They’re known to support a healthy digestive system and help prevent UTIs. Again, check with your vet for advice on the best ones for your fur baby.

Clean Their Food and Water Bowl Often

This might seem like a ‘no-brainer’ to anyone, but cleaning the bowls that your canine drinks and eats from is a simple practice that can assist. Bacteria builds up on these surfaces and your dog can ingest it.

Aim to wash the bowls at least daily with hot, soapy water. While your pooch isn’t one to complain if you forget, it’s the least you can do to help maintain their health!

Dog UTI: Our Final Thoughts

dog going to the bathroom

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) need treatment fast if you want to avoid the situation developing into an emergency. While urinary tract infections in dogs are not uncommon, UTI symptoms are definitely nothing to be complacent about. These contaminations can easily turn into bigger issues for your canine companion.

The good news is by spotting the signs, and getting a proper diagnosis, they can be effectively cured with a course of antibiotic treatment. Then, you can help prevent future infections with a few simple steps. In no time at all, your doggo will be back to their energetic selves!

Frequently Asked Questions

What should you give a dog for UTI?

If your dog has a urinary tract infection, they’ll be treated with antibiotics. You’ll need to bring a urine sample to the vet so they can diagnose the problem.

How do you treat a dog UTI at home?

If you believe your pet may have a urinary tract infection, this is not the time to try a home remedy! UTIs in dogs need swift diagnosis by your veterinarian and a course of antibiotics to treat them.

How do you know if your dog has a UTI?

If your dog is having difficulty urinating, needs to go more often, looks like they’re in pain when peeing or if there’s another change in their urination, they may have a UTI.

How do you prevent UTIs in dogs?

UTIs in dogs can be prevented by making sure they have enough fresh water, clean food and water bowls, and giving them dietary supplements or probiotics.

What health problems can UTIs cause?

UTIs can cause many serious health problems. These include long-term lower urinary tract dysfunction, an inflamed prostrate, infertility, bladder stones or kidney stones, blood poisoning or even kidney failure.

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