UTI on wooden blocks Source: Elena11 /Shutterstock


Whether a new addition to your household, or a long-time four-legged friend, your dog is surely a precious family member. As such, your pet's health is of great importance to you and your your family. A crucial part of maintaining your dog's good health is the prevention and / or timely attention to, urinary tract infections.


Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) is most commonly a bacterial condition. Dogs, especially females, and those seven years or older, are prone to UTIs. As with humans, these infections can cause your pet considerable pain.


Causes of UTI


There are several circumstances that create the bacteria in a dog's urethra that cause urinary tract infections:



  • Feces or other foreign material entering the urethra.

  • Insufficient nutrient intake.

  • Bladder or kidney disease

  • Kidney stones

  • Cancer

  • Abnormalities in the dog's spinal cord

  • Prostrate disorders

  • Bladder infection, inflammation or disease


How to Tell if Your Dog Has a UTI


Of course, except for unusual whimpers accompanying urination, your four-legged friend can't tell you she's hurting. Instead you must be alert for the following symptoms:


1. Accidents - If a dog that is always vigilant about waiting until the proper outdoor time and place to urinate starts to do so in the house, dribbling in places other than the indoor DoggieLawn dog grass pad you've trained them to use. If this is the only symptom, however, and you have a puppy or an elderly dog - especially if it's an older and / or spayed female - chances are their are other causes. Spayed females tend to be deficient in estrogen, and that can hamper bladder control. Puppies, even after training, do tend to have accidents. Older dogs can develop cognitive impairments that cause them to unlearn their proper potty training.


2. Increased frequency of urination - If a dog who is usually content with outdoor bathroom breaks each morning and evening suddenly demands to be let out additional times throughout the day


3. Discoloration - The urine looks cloudy or has some blood mixed in


4. Fever - One of the most difficult symptoms to detect, as you don't typically take note of a dog's flush and feel his or her forehead, as you would with your sick child. You should consider fever if your "best friend's" eyes are red, if he is lethargic and lacking his usual energy, if his nose is warm and dry or his ears warm, if she is shivering despite a comfortably warm environment, if she's coughing or has lost her appetite, and most especially if he's vomiting.


5. Licking - if the dog is licking around the opening to its urinary tract


Once your veterinarian has completed a urinalysis and determined that your dog has a UTI, the treatment may vary depending on its cause. A UTI caused by cancer is resolved by treatment for the cancer, which could include surgical removal of the tumor(s.) Prostrate disease might also warrant surgery. Invariably, the first action your dog's doctor will take, however, is to prescribe a 7 or 10-day course of antibiotics. During this time your dog will need plenty of water, and then a follow-up urinalysis to determine if the antibiotics have destroyed the UTI-causing bacteria.


If bladder control - that is, difficulty with sphincter control - is precipitating a urinary tract infection, doses of estrogen or an alpha-adrenergic agonist might well alleviate the problem, thus preventing further UTIs. Estrogen helps send the dog's body the message that the sphincter needs to do its job of retaining urine. The type of estrogen depends on gender. A female would usually be prescribed diethylstilbestrol, most commonly referred to as DES. A male doctor would be treated with additional testosterone. A word of caution, regarding testosterone treatment, however: This addition, just as with humans, can result in increased aggression.


Preventing UTIs


Obviously, you'd much rather your sweet pooch never have to suffer the pain and discomfort of a urinary tract infection. There are several things you can do to prevent the occurrence of a UTI.



  • As much as possible, keep plenty of fresh water in his water dish. If you see that he's drooled in the dish, or spilled food into it, quickly empty the dish and freshen the water.

  • Consider increasing outside bathroom trips during the day and evening. Most trained dogs will hold their urine well past their point of comfort if no one is home to let them out, and this can precipitate a UTI.


Of course, for working families, who can't be there during the day to let the dog out, indoor grass for dogs is an excellent way to keep their pet symptom free and comfortable. The additional benefit of this grass dog potty is that, unlike having her accidentally dribble all over the house, the use of this designated indoor bathroom spot will not undo all the house breaking you've taught her.


An alternative might be to build a doggie door into one of your exits, if you don't have one already. Of course, this option is more costly, time-consuming and structurally invasive than the easy and affordable potty grass.



  • Periodically clean your pet's urinary tract opening with antibacterial wipes.

  • Much like the consumption of yogurt does in humans, canine probiotics help the growth of good bacteria in a dog's colon. You have many options for these natural, over-the-counter products. You might feed her yogurt, or chews or dog food that contain probiotics. Pet stores also sell probiotic powders and capsules. These probiotics will not be effective, however, in extreme temperature or moisture changes. Additionally, you must keep an eye on the expiration date of the probiotic. Once the product has expired, its effectiveness has as well.


Urinary tract infections, while not always preventable, are treatable. Knowing what to look for when your best efforts fail to prevent the UTI can alleviate your pet's pain and discomfort, assuring that he or she get the treatment that quickly eliminates that UTI.