Treating Urinary Infections in Dogs

September 29, 2019
Diet and lifestyle are two key factors to consider when treating urinary infections in dogs.

Humans aren’t the only ones to suffer from conditions that affect the urinary tract. There are a growing number of pets that are also suffering from urinary infections. When treating urinary infections in dogs, it’s important to better understand the infection itself.

There’s no doubt that love and dedication are two important factors in maintaining your dog’s health. However, there are other important things to consider in their upbringing. Most importantly, you must ensure their mind and body are healthy.

In order to look after your dog’s health, it’s important they get regular visits to the vet. You must also ensure they are up to date with their vaccines and worming treatment. The first step in determining whether your dog has contracted a urinary infection is to take a look at their symptoms. 

What are urinary infections and what causes them?

The urinary system acts as the body’s filter. Its main function is to remove any toxic or disposable substances that the body ingested, or that entered the body via another means, through cleaned urine.

A dog running in a field.

The urinary system comprises of the kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra. Firstly, there are the kidneys, which are the main filtering organs. Secondly, the bladder is a subsidiary organ that stores urine until it is removed from the body. The ureters then drive urine towards the bladder. Lastly, there’s the urethra, which is the last stop for the urine before it’s then removed from the body.

Urinary infections can occur in any of these organs, but often they occur in those in the lower part of the urinary system. This is because the bladder and the urethra are more exposed to the outside environment.

In fact, the cause of most urinary infections is a microorganism (normally bacterial) that enters the body through the urethra. This organism then settles in the bladder or in the urethra itself. For dogs, the risk is that the organism can cause health complications when it enters the body through the urinary tract.

How do dogs contract urinary infections?  

No dog is safe from urinary infections. Among other reasons, this is because bacteria have adapted to survive in any environment. However, there are some dogs that are more exposed or more vulnerable to developing these infections than other dogs.

Urinary infections in dogs: the biggest risks

  • Dogs that crossbreed with other dogs of an unknown background. In fact, this has nothing to do with the dog’s breed or a lack of defined breed. Crossbreeding your dog can expose them to a number of diseases.
  • The presence of other conditions such as an enlarged prostate, kidney stones, tumors, incontinence or hormone imbalances.
  • Exposure to unclean environments where bacteria can easily spread.
  • Female dogs are more vulnerable to urinary infections than males, given that they have to bend down to urinate. As a result, the vagina is more exposed to the outside environment.
  • Dogs who are suffering from immunodepression due to illnesses, mistreatment or an unbalanced/insufficient diet.

The more a dog is exposed to outside environments, the greater the risk of them coming into contact with microorganisms. However, there’s no reason to stop taking your dog for a walk. By ensuring their immune system remains strong, you can help them to fight any foreign microorganisms.

What are the symptoms of these infections?

When treating urinary infections in dogs, it’s very important to take them for regular check-ups with the vet. These types of infections can often go undetected and symptoms only appear at a late stage.

The main symptoms of urinary infections in dogs are:

  • Urinating frequently and in small amounts each time
  • Appearing to take a lot of effort or experiencing pain when urinating
  • Cloudy or foul-smelling urine
  • Blood in the urine
  • Urinating in places where the dog hasn’t before
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Appearing tired or lethargic
  • Vaginal discharge (in female dogs)
  • Irritation around the external genital regions
  • Licking their genital regions frequently

How can you prevent infections in dogs?

The best way to stop your dog contracting an infection is to help strengthen their immune system. This can only be achieved by leading a healthy lifestyle, including following a balanced diet and getting regular physical activity.

In addition, it’s important to ensure your dog gets the hydration it needs. Dogs need fresh, clean water to allow them to produce urine and filter out toxins from their body.

Treating urinary infections in dogs

Antibiotics are usually the main way of treating urinary infections. In fact, these are generally used to treat a wide range of bacterial infections.

A vet treating urinary infections in dogs.

However, if the cause of the infection is a fungus or parasite, then antibiotics won’t be effective. In these cases, the vet will usually prescribe special fungicide or anti-parasitic treatment for your dog.

The vet may also recommend a special diet for your dog to help restore pH levels in their urine and boost their immune system. Therefore, if your dog develops any symptoms of a urinary infection, it’s important to take them to a vet straight away. An early diagnosis could improve the quality of your dog’s life, or even potentially save their life.