Urinary tract infection in dogs – how to help a pup with bladder problems

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are quite common in our furry friends. While any dog can encounter this uncomfortable issue, some are more susceptible than others. Senior female dogs, those with diabetes, and dogs with a history of bladder stones are at higher risk. However, it’s important to remember that no dog, no matter how healthy, is completely immune to UTIs.

Curious about how to spot the signs of a painful UTI in your dog and how you can help? 😊

While I am a veterinarian, this article is not intended to replace professional veterinary advice. If you have any medical concerns about your pet, consult your vet immediately. Always seek professional assistance if you are unsure of your pet’s health.

small black and white french bulldog peing

Signs of urinary tract infection in dogs

Have you ever had bladder inflammation? Then you know how uncomfortable and painful it can be.

If your well-mannered housebroken dog suddenly pees inside or is asking to go outside very frequently, it is a red flag and you should take him to a vet ❣️

If your pet has a bladder infection, you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:

  • frequent urination 
  • frequent urination of small amounts
  • he’s frequently trying to urinate, even when there’s no urine coming out 
  • licking of the genitals
  • dripping urine
  • signs of pain during urination
  • loss of bladder control
  • accidents in the house
  • blood in the urine
  • loss of appetite
  • excessive thirst
  • apathy, behavior changes

If you see any of these signs, the best thing you can do is contact your vet.

What causes urinary tract infections?

Around 25% of dogs will develop a bladder infection at some point in their lives, most of those being caused by bacteria. The bacteria travel up the urinary tract into the bladder, where they reproduce and cause inflammation.

However, UTI or symptoms of UTI might be a sign of a very serious underlying condition, such as

Therefore getting a complete diagnosis whenever there are symptoms of UTI is really necessary.

The most important diagnostic test is urine analysis. Depending on the results of clinical examination and urine analysis your vet might recommend further examinations such as blood analysis, x-rays, or ultrasound.

Treatment of urinary tract infections in dogs

Since most urinary tract infections are caused by bacteria, a course of antibiotics is needed. If your dog was given antibiotics, he should feel better within 2-3 days. However, it’s really really important to continue the antibiotic treatment until the full prescription has been used up.

Bladder inflammation is a painful condition. Your vet may prescribe anti-inflammatories or other painkillers to help relieve pain.

Some dogs may need a urinary veterinary diet specially formulated to alter the urine pH, prevent stone formation and reduce inflammation.

As in humans, drinking a lot of water to dilute urine can help. It also helps “flush” the bacteria out. Some supplements may encourage your dog to drink more.

Treatment of underlying condition – if your dog has a “hidden” health problem, treatment should focus primarily on the underlying condition. This may mean dealing with recurring urinary stones, kidney disease, diabetes mellitus, or some other disease. In this case, urinary tract infection is a symptom of an underlying health condition. If you don’t diagnose and treat the real cause, you will end up with recurring UTIs and the animal will only get worse with time. We have to treat the cause, not the symptoms.

So what about cranberry juice and UTI? Can you give your dog cranberry juice?

nd phenolic acids that may be helpful in preventing urinary tract infections. However, as human studies have shown, cranberry effectiveness is individual- and/or case-dependent. We still don’t know which cranberry and/or cranberry-derived components are mainly responsible for its protective effects against UTIs.

There is a nice article in Healthline Does cranberry juice help treat UTIs? Myth vs. science where you can read more about the science stuff.

So the science is still mixed on whether it really works not just as prevention but also in acute cases. We also don’t know how exactly it works. And this is for humans, there are no real studies on dogs or other animals.

So the bottom line is, it won’t hurt but it may help. Ask your vet if your pet can drink cranberry juice and how much (you shouldn’t play with this if your pet has some other medical conditions like kidney disease). If your dog likes to drink it, at least he will be drinking more fluids and diluting his urine, and maybe in his case, it will also help prevent recurrent urinary tract infections.

a bowl of cranberries

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