Did you know that pets can get urinary tract infections? Whether it is having accidents in the house, going out frequently, or the presence of blood in the urine, pet urinary tract infections are no fun for anyone involved. Unfortunately, they are a common problem seen in our patients that animal lovers everywhere should know about.

The Science Behind Pet Urinary Tract Infections

Your pet’s urinary tract is comprised of the kidneys, ureters, urinary bladder, and urethra. Urine is manufactured in the kidneys, then emptied into the bladder via the ureters. Urine is then voided through the urethra.

Normally the urinary tract is a sterile environment, meaning that there are no bacteria present. Sometimes, though, bacteria from the outside can make their way into the urinary tract. This can be due to something disrupting the function of the urinary tract and its natural defenses. Common culprits include:

  • The presence of stones or crystals in the bladder (may be affected by diet)
  • Inflammation of the bladder
  • Incontinence
  • Trauma to the urinary tract
  • Growths or tumors
  • Stress
  • Abnormalities in urine pH (may be affected by diet)
  • Systemic conditions that affect the urinary tract
  • Abnormal anatomy

Pets sometimes get urinary tract infections for no apparent reason, but recurrent or persistent pet urinary tract infections warrant further investigation for an underlying cause.

What You Can Do

If you think that your pet may have a urinary tract infection, it is important for him or her to be examined right away. Symptoms that could indicate a problem include:

  • Frequent urination (polyuria)
  • Straining (stranguria)
  • Urinating in abnormal locations (periuria)
  • The presence of blood in the urine (hematuria)
  • Licking
  • Decreased appetite
  • Strong odor to urine
  • Loss of bladder control

Typically, we are able to diagnose a pet urinary tract infection based on urine testing, called a urinalysis. Sometimes additional diagnostics, such as blood testing or a urine culture (where the offending bacteria are grown on a culture plate), are also recommended. If urinary stones, a tumor, or abnormal anatomy are suspected, radiographs (x-rays) or an ultrasound may be required.

Most urinary tract infections are easily treated with a course of antibiotics. It is important to finish all antibiotics as prescribed to be sure that the infection is adequately treated. It is also essential to return for all recommended rechecks so that we can confirm that no additional treatment is required.

If there is an underlying condition that is causing urinary tract infections to develop, special diets, dietary supplements, or other appropriate medications may be needed, depending on the condition.

Pet urinary tract infections may not be any fun, but the experts at Stone Ridge Veterinary Medical Center are here for you.