Many times my articles come from my personal experiences as a pet owner. Like this week’s post, for instance. It came about as the result of a weekend stressing over whether my dog had a urinary tract infection (UTI).
My 10-month-old golden is in heat. You’ll see why that’s relevant in a minute. In my last post about spaying I mentioned there are benefits to waiting until after the first heat before spaying. And here we are. This is her one and only cycle.
I boarded her last week because I was out of town. When she came home she was having accidents in the house.
At first I thought maybe she’s doing this because she’s in season. After 2 days of following her around with paper towels, I decided something’s up.
It’s been a while since once of my dogs had a UTI so I thought I should refresh my memory about the symptoms. I did research. By the time I finished surfing the web, I was pretty convinced she had an infection.
One soup ladle of urine and a visit to the vet later, my prediction was confirmed… UTI. More on the soup ladle in a minute.
Because these infections are unpleasant—for you the pet parent and your dog who’s in pain—I wanted to share the details of my experience. If you know the signs to look for you can spare any unnecessary suffering.
What is a UTI?
A urinary tract infection is most often a bladder infection but it can be an infection in the kidney, ureters, or urethra.
They’re much more common in females than males. As dogs age, they become more vulnerable. From 7 on, dogs are more susceptible.
The cause of a UTI is usually bacteria that enter the urethra. The bacteria can come from anywhere… poop, dirt, etc. Most often, a healthy dog will ward it off. But a dog with a weakened immune system might not be able to fight off an infection.
That’s what happened with my girl. It was the perfect storm. The hormonal changes from her cycle coupled with the stress of being boarded lowered her immunity.
In addition, she had more crate time when she was boarded so she probably didn’t relieve herself as often as she would normally. Because she didn’t flush out the bacteria, an infection took hold.
Poor nutrition can also affect the immune system resulting in an infection. And dogs with frequent UTIs may need to change their diet as part of their treatment.
Less often, UTIs are caused by something more serious like cancer, bladder disease, kidney disease, diabetes, or prostate disease.
What are the signs?
If your dog has a UTI, the symptoms can be obvious but they can also be subtle. Sometimes, a dog may show no signs at all.
But if your dog shows any of the following signs, it may mean a UTI.
Straining to urinate
Crying while urinating
Accidents in the house
Blood in the urine
Frequent urinating in small amounts
Frequent licking of genitals
Loss of appetite
My dog was having accidents in the house. And as I think about it, her constant squatting outside was her straining to go, even though I thought it was because she was in heat. Blood in the urine—couldn’t really tell because she was bleeding from her heat.
Other than that, she seemed normal.
UTIs feel no different to a dog than they do to a person. A constant feeling you have to go. Hence all the accidents. They’re pretty miserable.
How does the vet diagnose and treat a UTI?
Here’s where the soup ladle comes in. If you think a 10-month-old golden retriever who’s in perpetual motion will let you stick a cup under her when she’s peeing, you are mistaken.
But a soup ladle gives you the perfect trajectory. I didn’t have to get too close to her to make her scoot away. And she never even felt the ladle slip under her to catch the urine. It works perfectly. I recommend it if you ever need to get a sample.
Your vet will want a free catch sample. This is the first morning urine. If you’re not going straight to the vet, refrigerate the sample.
If you can’t get a sample, your vet may collect urine by inserting a needle into the bladder. This procedure is relatively painless with few complications.
They’ll do a urinalysis in the office to see if there are white blood cells in the urine indicating infection. Then they’ll send the sample out to be cultured to find out what type of bacteria is causing the infection. This determines which antibiotic your vet will prescribe.
In my case, the vet gave me an antibiotic he uses to treat 90% of the bacteria he sees in UTIs. If the culture comes back tomorrow and he needs to change the meds, he will. But he wanted to get her treatment started and he probably won’t need to make a change.
Can you prevent a UTI?
Yes and no. You always want to be sure your dog is eating a well-balanced nutritious diet like Husse to keep their immune system functioning normally.
Also, be sure your dog is drinking enough water every day so they urinate often.
Your vet may recommend a probiotic to prevent recurring UTIs. They get rid of the bad bacteria and help the immune system. Many super premium foods like Husse include probiotics in their recipe.
But my dog is a healthy 10-month-old, and she got an infection. You can’t control everything.
The good news is most dogs recover from a urinary tract infection with no complications. But you should act quickly if you suspect an infection because a UTI can travel to other organs if it’s untreated. And an infection can be the sign of a bigger underlying problem.
Has your dog ever had a UTI? How did you know? Share in the comment section above.