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What You Need to Know About Blood in Your Dog's Urine

I'm the proud owner of two dogs: a Chihuahua-Papillon cross and an American Staffordshire. I am an animal lover and advocate in general.

Discolored urine sample, blood in urine.

Discolored urine sample, blood in urine.

You Have Noticed Blood in Your Dog's Urine. Now What?

If your pooch pal has never had blood in their urine (haematuria) before, seeing it for the first time can panic owners and rightly so. There can be signs of discolouration and foul odour present and increased frequency of urination (dysuria) before actual blood can be seen as droplets at the end of the urine stream when reaching an empty bladder. If your dog's urine has gotten to the point of having visible blood in it, you should arrange a consultation with your vet as soon as possible.

What Causes Blood in the Urine?

Blood present in the urine can be caused by several underlying issues that require further diagnosis for proper treatment. You'll want to catch some of your dog's urine for analysis before the vet visit and keep it refrigerated in the mean time.

Causes of Blood in a Dog's Urine?

  • Urinary tract infections: A common cause of blood in the urine is Urinary Tract Infections (UTI). These are more common in female dogs but not limited to. You're vet can perform a urine culture test to determine the best antibiotic for the specific strain of infection.
  • Prostate inflammation (prostatitis) or cancer: Another more intimidating cause of blood in the urine if in a male dog, is Prostate Inflammation (Prostatitis) or Cancer. UTI's can be secondary to prostate problems if in a male dog. And your vet may perform a rectal prostate examination to establish abnormalities or inflammation.
  • Bladder stones: Blood in the urine can also be caused by bladder stones that can form over time. Analysis of the urine is indicative of the presence and type of crystals, minerals and bacteria that together can form stones. It is imperative they are diagnosed or ruled out as soon as possible as stones can lead to obstruction of the urethra. If your vet does not request an immediate radiography (x-ray) or ultrasound, you should ask that one of either be performed.
Diagram, bladder stones. Male dog.

Diagram, bladder stones. Male dog.


At this point in time, if your pet has been diagnosed at all, your vet will have ideas about how to proceed. In the case of a UTI, the correct antibiotics will pull your pup's infection up quickly. In the case of prostate inflammation, your vet will suggest castration if the males still intact (not desexed) and possible dietary changes for the future.

In the case of stones, however, appropriate treatment can vary a little more. Prescription diet which aims to dissolve stones is often a first approach however this only works for specific stone types. It also is slow, so stones can move from the bladder and become lodged in the urethra.

Obstruction of the urethra means the dog cannot pass urine, which in turn will pollute the blood with waste products which otherwise would of been excreted in the urine, and cause kidney damage and if untreated, eventuates in death. For these reasons the most effective removal of stones is to surgically retrieve them.

My poor dog, resting and healing.

My poor dog, resting and healing.

What Happens in the Case of Urethral Obstruction? My Dog's Story

Unfortunately, when I presented my dog to our regular vet with bloody urine he was not checked for stones. It was assumed to be what we now know was a non-existent UTI. So my dog was first prescribed one antibiotic and then another two weeks later when his second urine analysis showed no improvement.

At the third vet visit, another urine analysis showed that my boy was getting worse. I requested an ultrasound. In response, the vet told me that he was confident my dog had Prostatitis and neutering him ASAP would be our best approach but that the ultrasound was "not cost effective" and that if the neutering doesn't work than he will arrange an ultrasound. So within a week of this visit, my boy was desexed and no ultrasound was performed.

Not even a whole three weeks after his procedure, my dog all of a sudden was straining to pee (pollakiura). I rushed my boy to the vet and finally they radiographed his abdomen and bam! Stones. A few particularly large ones lodged right in his penile bone. The urethra runs through the penile bone but becomes particularly narrow.

Our vet explains that he'd like to try using a cathader to dislodge the stones, pushing them back into the bladder to try dissolving them or removing them from there. However, they were just too stuck. With my dog still unconscious on the table, they decided to do an 'emergency perennial urethrostomy'.

A urethrostomy is a procedure that bypasses the stones by cutting into the urethra before the section of obstruction and re-routing it to an exit point on the dog's perenium. This is done either temporarily or permanently. Our vet made ours permanent.

Typically a dog is kept at the vet for 24 to 48 hours after this procedure, however because this happened on a weekend, our vet sent my dog home bleeding and shaking only an hour and a half after the surgery. He was not given sedation, which is also typical after care. So two weeks later he popped a stitch which couldn't be fixed, prolonging his recovery even further.

One month post procedure, my dog has almost fully healed. He still hasn't learn to squat but we are working on it. He will require regular check ups now as the urethrostomy makes UTI's and such more likely. I hope that by sharing this experience, readers might gain insight as to the possible causes, appropriate treatments and avoid this horrible procedure and an obstruction in their dog altogether.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2017 Stephanie Purser