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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.

The urine sample seen here is discolored due to the presence of blood.

The urine sample seen here is discolored due to the presence of blood.

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 the frequency of urination may increase (dysuria) before actual blood can be seen as droplets at the end of the urine stream as the bladder empties. 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 Dog Urine?

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

Possible Causes of Blood in a Dog's Urine

  • Urinary tract infections: A common cause of blood in the urine is a urinary tract infection or UTI. These are more common in female dogs, but male dogs can get them as well. Your vet can perform a urine culture test to determine the best antibiotic for the specific strain of infection your dog is dealing with.
  • Prostate inflammation (prostatitis) or cancer: More intimidating causes of blood in urine (specifically in male dogs) include prostate inflammation (prostatitis) and cancer. UTIs can be secondary to prostate problems in male dogs. 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 have formed over time. An analysis of the urine can determine the presence and type of crystals, minerals, and bacteria that together form the 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 immediate radiography (x-ray) or an ultrasound, you should ask that one or the other be performed.
This diagram of a male dog shows bladder stones in the bladder.

This diagram of a male dog shows bladder stones in the bladder.

Treatment Options

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 clear your pup's infection up quickly. In the case of prostate inflammation, your vet will suggest castration if the dog is not already desexed and possible dietary changes for the future.

In the case of stones, however, appropriate treatment can vary a little more. A prescription diet which aims to dissolve stones is often the 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 have been excreted in the urine). An obstruction can also cause kidney damage, and if untreated, may result in death. For these reasons, the most effective remedy for kidney stones is to surgically retrieve them.

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My poor dog had a lot of resting and healing to do.

My poor dog had a lot of resting and healing to do.

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 didn't work then he would 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 began straining to pee all of a sudden (pollakiuria). I rushed my boy to the vet, and they finally radiographed his abdomen. It was kidney stones—a few particularly large ones lodged right in his penile bone. The urethra runs through the penile bone but becomes particularly narrow at parts.

Our vet explained that he wanted to try using a catheter 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 typical after-care for the procedure. 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 learned to squat, but we are working on it. He will require regular checkups now, as the urethrostomy makes UTIs and related conditions more likely. I hope that by sharing this experience, readers might gain insight as to the possible causes and appropriate treatments to avoid this horrible procedure and an obstruction in their dogs 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

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