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Urinary Tract Infections in Dogs: What You Should Know

Ealisa is a freelance writer pursuing her bachelor's in psychology and minor in sociology. She also keeps pet rats.

UTIs are just as painful and unpleasant for dogs as they are for humans. Learn how to recognize UTI symptoms and prevent infection in the first place.

UTIs are just as painful and unpleasant for dogs as they are for humans. Learn how to recognize UTI symptoms and prevent infection in the first place.

Due to their intelligence, personality, loyalty, and overall lovability, dogs have come to be part of families across the world. However, like other members of the family, dogs can become ill and need treatment. A urinary tract infection is one of the most common reasons a dog may be feeling under the weather.

Approximately 14% of dogs will experience a UTI during their lifetime, with an increased risk noted in spayed females.

Why Do Dogs Get UTIs?

Bacteria are the number one cause of urinary tract infections. Your dog can ingest bacteria by eating unclean or spoiled food or water. Bacteria can also enter through the urethra to the bladder. Females are much more likely to get a urinary tract infection than males are because their urethra is much shorter, making it easier for bacteria to make their way to the bladder.

What Are the Symptoms of UTIs in Canines?

Symptoms will usually depend on the stage that the infection is. The following are the most common symptoms of canine UTIs.

Increased Urination

The first symptom that most owners will notice is their dog is using the bathroom more or less often than normal. This is usually also the first symptom that is ignored. Many owners may notice it, but simply think it is due to something less serious, such as the dog drinking more or less water than normal.

Increased Thirst

However, it is important to remember that even if thirst seems to be the cause of abnormal urination, drinking more water can also be a symptom of a urinary tract infection. Dehydration is common in dogs with urinary tract infections because of their body’s reaction to fighting renal problems.

Note: If your dog is an indoor dog that you take out to use the bathroom during the day, it is easier to notice a change in your dog’s urination patterns. However, even if your dog stays outdoors, you may notice them continually squatting to use the bathroom, but being unable to.

Bloody or Foul-Smelling Urine

You may also notice blood in your dog’s urine or a foul smell of the urine. Your dog may also seem less interested in activities they used to enjoy, such as walks or playing, and seem lethargic or tired.

What to Do If Your Dog Has a UTI

If you suspect your dog has a urinary tract infection, do not delay in taking them to the veterinarian. There are many articles that state urinary tract infections can be cured with at-home remedies without any treatment from a veterinarian. However, by not seeing a veterinarian, you are leaving your dog vulnerable to the possibility that the untreated infection will infect other organs. This can cause permanent damage or even eventual death.

Your veterinarian will run multiple tests to check for urinary tract infection. A urinalysis will most likely be the first test that will be done. To make it easier on your veterinarian, try to obtain a urine sample before you take your dog to the veterinarian. This can be easily done by using a ladle and taking your dog out to use the bathroom before you leave for the veterinarian. The sample should be no older than a few hours old when it reaches the veterinarians’ office.

X-rays may also be taken in order to diagnose your dog. As a treatment, your veterinarian will most likely prescribe antibiotics to fight off the infection. The type or strength of the antibiotic will depend on the stage that the urinary tract infection is in.

How to Prevent Canine UTIs

Prevention is important when it comes to keeping your dog healthy and free from urinary tract infections. By taking your dog outside frequently to use the bathroom, you avoid bacteria sitting in the bladder for long periods of time. This can cause the bacteria to infect other organs.

You can also help prevent urinary tract infections in your dog by only offering them fresh food or water. Giving your dog citrus juices such as orange or fruit juice can also help fight bacteria and keep your dog healthy from urinary tract infections.

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.

© 2011 Ealisa Adams


Ashley Gray from Colorado on July 28, 2011:

I think my dog has a UTI right now! He is 7 years old and has suddenly started peeing in the house all the time.... not fun. Useful info!

Jane Reese on May 21, 2011:

My own little puppy had a UTI not to long ago. Wish I would have tried to prevent it from the start. It sure was expensive to clear up!