She’s squatting and straining to pee.
He’s urinating what looks like droplets of blood.
Nothing sends chills up the spine of a dog parent like that of a urinary tract infection brewing. If you’ve ever experienced a urinary tract infection, the pain, pressure, and uncomfortable sensation to “go” yet nothing comes out is simply miserable. We can complain about it; our dogs cannot voice their disdain. So it’s up to diligent dog moms and dads to stay one step ahead in order to prevent “UTI’s” and if one is brewing, knowing what to watch for and seek immediate veterinary care is crucial.
Although I am not a veterinarian, 20+ years of being a dog mom plus a dozen years dealing with experts in veterinary medicine and the pet industry behind the scenes has taught me a lot. Rather than keep this knowledge to myself, Fidose of Reality is going to pass on what we’ve learned, going behind the green curtain, unearthing the things not often discussed with regards to a dog’s health, and dishing the real facts of what dog parents need to know. Oh, and lest I forget: my last Cocker Spaniel dealt with urinary tract infections for a few years of her life—until I learned what works, what doesn’t, and how to prevent them in the first place.
For the low down on why UTIs happen, what veterinary medicine has to say about them, and the details on the urinary tract itself, you can check out this post from petMD. Always always seek veterinary care and call your veterinarian first. There is no substitute for a veterinarian seeing your dog in person.
Most urinary tract infections that are not complicated by other issues within the dog are caused by some form of bacteria. For dogs with fungal urinary tract infections, these are more difficult to treat. Dogs with chronic urinary tract infections may be dealing with any number of causes: from a structural defect to polyps, diabetes, or stones.
You’re probably reading this post because:
- Your dog has had a urinary tract infection
- You wonder how to prevent a dog from getting a urinary tract infection
- Your dog is urinating in the house and you suspect a urinary tract infection
Once your dog’s veterinarian has diagnosed a urinary tract infection, here are some things that worked for us and for further discussion with your dog’s healthcare professional:
The Secret Test No One Talks About
Dip the Urine: Seriously, check your dog’s urine from home. I purchase the Siemens Multistix that test for 10 different levels of things in my dog’s urine. If your dog battles urinary tract infections (UTI’s), these strips can be a lifesaver for detecting levels such as pH and blood in the urine in between vet visits. Collect the dog’s urine with a free catch in the morning when it is most concentrated, dip the stick in, wait the time recommendations (2 minutes for most) and then compare against the colors on the bottle. (strips expire and are about $35 for 100 but so worth it – about the same cost as one urinalysis at the vet, so very cost effective).
In healthy pets, the urine pH is typically in the 6.5 to 7.0 range. Medicines, age, co-existing health conditions, and even stress can change the level of pH. In addition, the most concentrated form of urine is the “free catch” first thing in the morning. Vets can also do a cystocentesis on a dog in order to pass a needle through the bladder and to obtain a more sterile sample (this is not a painful test, by the way).
When my Brandy Noel developed chronic urinary tract infections in her middle years, treatment was generally monitoring her urine and watching for symptoms. After talking with some friends in the veterinary field and doing a bit of research, I discovered cranberry capsules. Cranberry in general helps to promote a healthy urinary tract by preventing bacteria from adhering to the mucosal lining of the urinary bladder. In other words, the bacteria is there but the cranberry prevents it from sticking to the bladder wall. There are precautions to take and the administration and/or addition of any medication or vitamin/supplement should be discussed with a veterinarian first. For starters, some over-the-counter cranberry capsules contain sugar, so avoid these. Cranberry in and of itself is a berry and has a certain amount of natural sugars in it. Cranberry juice in people contains a high amount of salicylic acid, so people need to proceed with caution if they have anticoagulant meds in their regimen or if they have aspirin allergies. With dogs, this usually isn’t the case. Cranberry in general will change the pH of the urine and you don’t want a dog with too high of a pH nor too low: Stones can result.
Cranberry capsules worked for us for eight years and we would simply increase the dosage if Brandy Noel showed any changes in her weekly ph urine strip test. Otherwise, she received one capsule a day with a meal and never had a problem—and she never had another urinary tract infection for the final 7 years of her life. A colleague in the pet industry, who happens to be a veterinarian, recently recommended this particular supplement for a friend who has a dog with UTIs: Cranberry Rx.
Drinking water is essential and crucial to a dog’s overall well being. I hear from pet parents all the time who tell me their dog doesn’t drink enough and how can they get their dog to drink? In general, a healthy dog drinks about 1/2 to 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight per day. Frequent drinking (polydipsia) is a sign of other health issues, like diabetes, so always monitor your dog’s water intake. Knowing the amount of water your dog should drink helps you determine if your dog is drinking too little or too much. Flushing the kidneys and urinary tract is one way to keep crystals from forming and to keep dogs healthy.
For a period of time before we discovered cranberry capsules, we added vitamin C to our dog’s diet. Though dogs are capable of making their own vitamin C, this water-soluble antioxidant may help in fighting off urinary tract infections when given in extra doses. In her book, Four Paws, Five Directions: A Guide to Chinese Medicine for Cats and Dog, Cheryl Schwartz, DVM, says the forms of Vitamin C best absorbed by the intestinal tract are calcium ascorbate and sodium ascorbate, as they are also both less likely to cause diarrhea.
There is something to be said for feeding a dog a natural, high quality pet food, free of by-products and fillers, and appropriate to their nutritional requirements. We feed a moist pet food (semi-raw rehydrated) and ensure our dog drinks an adequate amount of water daily.
QUESTION: Has your dog ever experienced a urinary tract infection? What has worked (or not worked) for you?
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