Talking about bladder infections can be uncomfortable, but there’s no reason they should be a taboo topic. Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are very common in both humans and dogs. Many pet owners have to deal with a dog’s UTI at some point in their lives, so it’s certainly a topic worth discussing. Because bladder infections are such a common problem for dogs, people have developed several home remedies for treating them.
You don’t have to be a veterinarian to figure out why maintaining a healthy urinary tract is important. It comes into play multiple times every day. Depending on your dog’s breed, age, and overall health, UTIs may be a rare annoyance or a chronic sign of an underlying health condition. Before giving your dog UTI treatment, you should understand how these infections work. Let’s get right to it.
WHAT IS A DOG UTI?
Humans and dogs suffer from the same kinds of urinary tract problems. UTIs are the result of a fungal or bacterial infection. E. coli is the most common culprit, but many kinds of bacteria and fungi can invade your dog’s urinary tract.
While UTIs are certainly cause for concern, you should not panic over them. Bacterial urinary tract infections are the most common infectious disease in dogs, which means people have a lot of experience treating them. According to the American Kennel Club, bacterial UTIs affect 14% of all dogs at some point in their lifetimes.
UTIs typically happen when bacteria or fungi from the dog’s skin or digestive tract get past the urinary tract’s natural defenses. When these organisms build up in the urinary tract and bladder, they cause an infection.
UTI Risk Factors for Dogs
Female dogs are more likely to get a UTI than male dogs. They affect older dogs more often than young dogs and puppies. If your dog has other health issues, such a kidney disease, the risk of getting a UTI is much higher as well.
CAUSES OF BLADDER INFECTION IN DOGS
We mentioned that bacteria and fungi could cause urinary tract infections in dogs, but bacteria are more common, especially E. coli. Typically, a UTI begins when this bacteria enters upward through the opening of the urethra. Harmful bacteria often emerges if the urethra is exposed to feces or if debris gets trapped there. A lack of nutrients in your dog’s diet can also lead to a weakened immune system, which may cause a urinary tract infection.
Certain health conditions can lead to urinary tract infections in dogs. Your dog is more vulnerable if they have one of these pre-existing issues:
- Kidney disease
- Kidney stones
- Bladder inflammation
- Prostate disease
- Spinal cord abnormalities
If your dog is over seven years old, they may develop a weak urinary sphincter muscle. This can cause urine to leak out, which will make bacteria more likely to reproduce and spread.
What Are Symptoms of UTI in Dogs?
You should be able to spot a urinary infection in your dog without much difficulty. The signs are readily apparent and may include:
- Incontinence (loss of bladder control)
- Cloudy urine
- Blood in urine
- Strong-smelling urine
- Constantly licking around the urinary opening
- Persistent demands to be let outside
- Frequently urinating inside the home
- Straining or whimpering while urinating
Lethargy, vomiting, weight loss, increased water consumption, changes in appetite, and back pain may also accompany urinary tract infections. However, these symptoms are less common. In some circumstances, dogs may have a UTI but not show any symptoms at all. It is not unheard of for vets to diagnose a urinary tract infection when checking for other ailments.
UTIs are not the only conditions that can affect a dog’s urinary tract and bladder. Crystals, bladder stones, debris, and kidney stones can build up and cause serious discomfort. If your dog shows signs of pain or difficulty urinating, it’s a good idea to take them to a vet first to find out whether or not they actually have a UTI.
Are Certain Breeds More Prone To Getting a Bladder Infection?
All dogs are at risk for bladder and urinary tract infections, no matter what breed they are. The main risk factors for such infections are gender, age, and pre-existing conditions. To recap, female dogs are much more likely to get UTIs than male dogs, and older dogs have a higher risk.
Some breeds have a greater risk of developing kidney stones, which can contribute to UTIs, as we previously covered. Those genetically predisposed to kidney stones are generally small breeds. These include the Bichon Frise, Miniature Schnauzer, and Yorkshire Terrier.
How Do I Know If My Female Dog Has a UTI?
Even though female dogs are more likely to develop a UTI, their symptoms should be no different from those of a male dog with the same infection. We already went over the common signs of UTIs, but we’ll recap them here as well.
- Loss of bladder control
- Cloudy or bloody urine
- Strange or especially strong-smelling urine
- Constantly licking around the urinary opening
- Persistent demands to be let outside
- Frequently urinating inside the home
- Straining or whimpering while urinating
- Weight loss
- Change in appetite and thirst
- Back pain
How Do You Tell If My Dog Has a UTI or Is In Heat?
When female dogs are “in heat,” it means they have reached the stage of their estrous cycle when they can get pregnant. Dogs generally go into heat every 6 months, and the signs can sometimes look a bit like the symptoms of a UTI, including:
- Frequent urination
- Bloody discharge
- Excessively licking the genitals
So, how can you tell if your female dog is in heat or has a UTI? First, it depends on whether or not your dog is spayed. Dogs who have been spayed do not go into heat, so if your spayed dog shows the above signs, it means they have a UTI or similar condition.
If your dog has not been spayed, she will go into heat about twice a year. This typically happens every 6 months, so you can keep track of your dog’s estrous cycle and know when they will likely go into heat.
While the physical signs of heat and UTIs can be similar, the behavioral signs are very different. Dogs in heat want to mate, so they will actively seek partners. When you visit the dog park, you’ll probably notice your girl making a beeline for the male dogs. However, if your dog has a UTI, she’ll behave in the opposite way. Dogs in pain tend to act fearful and may hide. They are likely to show signs of fatigue and distress, not the energetic enthusiasm of a dog in heat.
Can Male Canines Get a UTI?
Yes, male dogs can get a UTI, but they are less vulnerable than female dogs. This is because male dogs have longer urethras, making it harder for invasive bacteria to make it up to their bladders. That said, male dogs are still vulnerable to such infections.
Male dogs are more vulnerable to certain forms of kidney stones, and they are much more likely to suffer a blockage of the urinary tract due to kidney stones. Such a blockage may have similar symptoms to a urinary tract infection, including bloody urine and straining to urinate. If your male dog exhibits these signs, you should take them to a vet and have them checked for kidney stones first and foremost.
What Can Happen If A Canine UTI Is Left Untreated?
UTIs are serious enough in their own right and can grow even worse if untreated. At best, a UTI can cause serious discomfort to your dog. If left untreated, UTIs may cause dysfunction of the lower urinary tract in which the bladder cannot empty completely. UTIs may also cause kidney and bladder stones, blood poisoning, infertility, kidney infections, and even kidney failure. In male dogs, UTIs can lead to prostate inflammation.
PREVENTION OF UTI IN DOGS
By tending to a few simple needs, you can reduce your dog’s risk of recurring urinary tract infections. It’s essential to give them a healthy diet, regular exercise, and a good hygiene routine. You cannot reduce your dog’s chances of getting a UTI all the way down to zero. There will always be a slight risk, especially considering how common UTIs are in dogs. That said, you can still do a lot to protect your pup.
When it comes to canine UTIs, it is important to monitor your dog’s urine pH. A healthy dog’s urine should have a pH close to neutral (7). The average range for a dog’s urine pH is 6.5-7. If their urine has a pH below 6, it is too acidic, and if the pH goes above 7, it is too alkaline.
If your dog’s urine is too acidic or too alkaline, it will create an excellent environment for bacteria to thrive and crystals to form. Owners can test their dog’s pH levels by purchasing pH testing strips, which are inexpensive and widely available.
Your dog’s diet has a huge impact on the pH level of their urine. If their urine is too alkaline, try feeding them food with more meat in it, like beef or turkey. Meat is naturally acidic and will help lower the pH of your dog’s urine. If their urine is too acidic, try to scale back the meat in their diet.
The Immune System
Work on strengthening your dog’s immune system. A strong immune system is essential for fighting off infections caused by bacteria and fungi. A healthy immune system will also be able to identify UTIs faster than a weak system, forcing the dog’s body to display symptoms earlier. It will be much easier to catch the signs of UTI if your dog’s immune system is functioning well.
Probiotics also work wonders for the immune system, which is why they are popular for both humans and their pets. You can always add some probiotics into your dog’s daily diet to promote their overall wellbeing.
If you have ever gotten a UTI, bladder infection, or kidney stone yourself, you know how much doctors preach the value of hydration. Water helps wash away bacteria and dilute the buildup of minerals that may cause such infections. If your dog is not drinking regularly, it could increase their risk of a UTI or bladder infection. Reduced thirst could also signify another underlying health condition, so it never hurts to ask a vet about it.
Walk your dog twice a day, and stick to a rigid schedule. Taking them for one walk in the morning and one in the evening, when you get home from work, is ideal. Your dog will get used to this schedule and know that they have a set time for urinating every day.
If your dog has a chaotic, irregular schedule, they will have more trouble regulating their urination. It is very important not to make your dog hold their urine for too long. Holding in urine for long periods can contribute to UTIs.
Walks are more than a bathroom break for your dog. Regular exercise is essential to maintaining all-around good health, including proper kidney function and a strong immune system. Taking two 30-minute walks per day is optimal. However, young puppies should only get 15 minutes or so, as they wear out easier.
Owners should know their pet’s behavior well. If your furry friend has a habit of getting infections, a dietary change should be your first order of business. There are special diets that can help prevent UTIs. Of course, we always advise that you consult with your vet before changing or adding things to your pet’s diet.
You should avoid buying dog food containing high levels of hormones, animal by-products, pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and GMOs. To be on the safe side, look for organic dog food and organic treats with beneficial ingredients. Any reputable organic food brand will avoid those unhealthy ingredients and practices, providing your dog with better nutrition.
Cleanliness & Grooming
A good hygiene regimen is essential for protecting your dog against UTIs. Bacterial buildups near the urethra often cause these infections. Make sure to bathe your dog regularly, every 1-2 weeks, and be sure to wash around their genital area. Also, be sure to choose a natural shampoo with beneficial ingredients that help nourish the skin and coat. Owners should inspect their dogs after any outings to check that they stay clean.
If you have a dog with long hair, you should keep the area around the genitals trimmed. A professional groomer can help do this with as little irritation to the dog as possible. This limits their fur from blocking their urethra.
HOME REMEDIES FOR DOG UTI
If you have reason to believe your dog is suffering from a urinary tract infection, the most important thing to do is talk to a vet. They can test a urine culture and determine what bacteria are present. Vets typically treat UTIs with a brief regimen of antibiotics, to be taken for a few days to a week.
If you want to try a natural remedy for your dog’s UTI, there are many options you can ask your vet about. Many of these remedies help alleviate symptoms, and some also help with long-term UTI prevention. Some of them can be paired with antibiotics or other treatments, so ask your vet about that as well. Now, let’s look at a few common remedies and preventative measures for UTIs.
Out of all the natural remedies for UTIs, none are more popular than cranberries. Many people swear by them, which is why cranberry juice is an extremely popular remedy for people who suffer from UTIs. How does it work? Cranberries contain proanthocyanidins, which are natural chemical compounds that inhibit bacteria’s ability to latch onto the bladder wall. This helps stop the spread of a UTI and protect against future issues.
It would be best if you did not give your dog cranberry juice. It typically contains a lot of sugar and other additives that aren’t great for your furry friend. Try giving your dog organic concentrated cranberries or cranberry supplements instead. Before trying any cranberry products, we recommend consulting a vet.
Can Dogs Take Cranberry Pills For Urinary Infections?
Yes, you can give your dog cranberry pills to alleviate the symptoms of a urinary tract infection. Many companies make cranberry supplements specifically designed for dogs. You can find them over-the-counter at pet stores or online retailers.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is also an excellent natural remedy for UTIs in dogs. It has some antiseptic properties that can kill bacteria. Apple cider vinegar will also help lower the pH of your dog’s urine if it is too high. Owners can add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar (for small dogs) or two tablespoons (for large dogs) to their dog’s food or water. This method should be repeated twice daily for a week to see results. Dog’s rarely like the taste of apple cider vinegar, so mixing it into tasty food may work better than mixing it in water.
Owners can also use Vitamin C to acidify their dog’s urine. If the urine pH is too high, Vitamin C is perfect for helping to get it lower. Please use Vitamin C in moderation since overly acidic urine can also cause the formation of crystals. Speak to your vet about the suitable dosage of vitamin C for your dog.
Lots Of Water!
This is worth mentioning again. Remember to keep your dog hydrated! By drinking lots of water, your dog dilutes his urine and flushes away the buildup. This is more of a preventive measure than a remedy, but making sure your dog stays very hydrated while suffering from a UTI is also recommended. Provide your dog with ice cubes (which many dogs enjoy playing with) or add a hint of chicken broth to their water bowl for incentive.
Is Yogurt Good for Dogs With UTI?
Yogurt may help reduce the risk of UTIs in humans because it contains healthy bacteria, but it is not a good option for most dogs. Yogurt contains lactose, which is very difficult for dogs to digest. Eating food with lactose can cause gas, diarrhea, and vomiting. This doesn’t happen to all dogs, but you should generally avoid giving your dog yogurt or any lactose-rich product.
How Long Does A Bladder Infection Last In A Dog?
Your dog’s UTI will almost certainly last until you seek treatment for them. Treatments and remedies are more effective the earlier you start to administer them. The longer you wait to address your dog’s symptoms, the more likely they will develop dangerous complications.
Fortunately, UTI treatments work rather quickly. Veterinary antibiotics usually show signs of improvement in a couple of days. You should not use antibiotics for long-term treatment, as the risk of adverse side effects increases dramatically the longer they take it.
Don’t wait until your dog gets a UTI to take action. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of the cure! That’s why preventative measures are so important, like feeding your dog a healthy diet and regularly exercising them. You don’t have to worry about how long a bladder infection might last if your dog doesn’t get one in the first place.
Can a Dog Urinary Infection Cure Itself?
Generally, urinary tract infections require some form of treatment. Very mild cases of UTIs may resolve themselves on their own, but cases with serious symptoms require veterinary attention. However, even if the case seems mild to you, don’t be passive and expect it to go away by itself. You should always play it safe and, at the very least, give the vet a phone call to discuss your dog’s symptoms and book an appointment if necessary.
FINAL THOUGHTS –
Can Diet Prevent Urinary Tract Infections In Dogs?
Just like humans, dogs need special care and maintenance. UTIs typically occur because of a poor diet or inadequate cleaning procedures. Owners can avoid UTIs, for the most part, by ensuring their pet is properly cleaned and is eating healthily. If your dog has blood in the urine or is experiencing severe pain while urinating, please take your dog to the vet immediately. There are several bladder infection home remedies for dogs for more mild symptoms.
UTIs are infections, which means if untreated, bacteria can multiply, and the matter may get worse. Owners should be attentive when dealing with UTIs. Cranberry concentrates and apple cider vinegar are fantastic home remedies for UTIs in dogs, but preventive measures are the best method to ensure a healthy and happy dog. Find more information about dog home remedies here.