Urinary Tract Disease in Dogs and Cats
What is urinary tract infection (UTI) in dogs and cats? Urinary tract problems are not uncommon in cats and dogs. Owners usually notice that their pet is urinating more often than normal or having accidents in the house. It is important to know what is normal for your pet, so you can spot symptoms of UTI in dogs.
Causes and symptoms of UTI in dogs
If your dog is passing small amounts of urine more frequently than usual, this normally indicates cystitis. Passing large amounts of dilute urine more frequently is more likely to be caused by:
- kidney disease
- inflammation of the bladder (or bladder inflammation)
- blockage of the urinary tract (or urinary tract obstruction)
- other medical problems
Straining and passing nothing at all can indicate a blockage of the urinary tract or inflammation of the bladder and is an emergency.
Cystitis in dogs
In female dogs, bacterial cystitis is the most common cause of frequent urination. If possible, collect a urine sample before going to the vet. There are many antibiotics for UTI. Most cases respond well to antibiotics and need no further treatment. In recurrent cases, the vet may want to use radiography and ultrasound to examine the bladder and carry out urine tests to rule out crystals in the bladder. Crystals can often be treated with diets that:
- alter the ratio of minerals in the urine
- promote more dilute urine
- change the urine acidity
In male dogs, bacterial cystitis is less common but can be seen with prostate disease. Enlarged prostates are found in almost all entire male dogs over 6, but seldom cause problems. Again, crystals and stones can be a cause of recurrent cystitis, and small stones are more likely to block the urinary tract of male dogs.
Stones can sometimes be dissolved with veterinary diets, but large stones may require surgical removal. Certain breeds are more likely to get bladder stones, most notably Dalmatians. They convert purines into uric acid, which is less soluble than the allantoin most dogs produce. Not all Dalmatians suffer from urate stones: however, many owners choose to feed a low purine diet anyway.
Older female dogs, especially those that have been neutered, can develop mild incontinence. This usually presents as urine leakage when the dog is lying down or asleep but can also present as a urinary tract infection because the bladder sphincter is weaker and may allow bacteria into the bladder. Most female dogs respond very well to medication to control this type of incontinence.
Frequent urination followed by sniffing could be urine marking!
Frequent urination on walks or in the home, especially if preceded by sniffing, can be urine marking and not a UTI symptom. Entire male dogs are most likely to do this, but females will sometimes mark too (this is more likely if they are coming into season). Marking can increase if there are new dogs in the house or walking area, if there is a female in heat, or sometimes if the dog is feeling insecure. A vet check and urinalysis are advisable before looking at behavioural causes of excessive or indoor marking.
Causes and symptoms of UTI in dogs
Even though normal cat urine is very concentrated, so in healthy young cats, bacterial cystitis in cats is very uncommon. Frequent urination in a young cat is more likely to be caused by inflammation of the bladder, or crystals in the urine. Bladder inflammation in cats is often triggered by stress, so think carefully about any changes which may have affected your cat. Cats should always have access to a litter tray (even if they prefer to toilet outside) and should have at least one litter tray each. Consider offering trying different litters, and different types of the tray (covered or open).
In older cats, bacterial cystitis becomes more of a concern as the kidneys produce less concentrated urine. Urinary infections may also be seen in cats with glucose in their urine as a result of diabetes. Urinalysis will suggest underlying causes to your vet, but they may also recommend blood tests to make a diagnosis. Both kidney disease and diabetes can be managed with a combination of dietary changes and medications.
Supplements for calming your cats
Bladder crystals and stones can often be managed through dietary changes, but male cats are at higher risk of blockage. If you think your male cat can’t urinate, he must see a vet immediately, as an emergency, because untreated cats can suffer from kidney failure and die. For stress-prone cats, behavioral modification, pheromone treatments, and calming supplements such Beaphar Calming Tablets or True Hemp Calming can reduce the frequency of cystitis attacks.
Do you need further advice?
If you need any further advice, please contact the OSCAR Helpline Team on our freephone number 0800 195 8000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.