When your Pet has GOT to go!
By Brooke Rowden
If you’ve ever had a urinary tract infection, you know how painful and uncomfortable it can be. The achy, urgent “gotta go right now” feeling is no fun. Luckily, as humans, it’s easy for us to communicate the problem with our doctor and get a diagnosis and treatment. Unfortunately, it’s not so easy for our pets. Symptoms are often overlooked and the issue continues over a long period of time. Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are actually very common in dogs and cats. This condition can be extremely painful and can cause serious problems if left undiagnosed. Thankfully, it is treatable with prescribed medication and a healthy diet.
What is a UTI?
A urinary tract infection is an infection in the urinary tract (kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra) caused by bacteria. UTIs can occur in both sexes of all kinds of animals, but is most common in female dogs and cats.
What causes the infection?
Research suggests there could be many causes for a UTI. Stress, diet, pH levels, outside bacteria, and struvite urinary stones and crystals in the bladder have all been found to contribute to the development of an infection.
What are the symptoms?
Pain tolerance varies with every animal, so it’s important to know your pet’s behavior and be able to spot a problem without them having to “tell” you. With a UTI, there are some typical symptoms infected pets often exhibit:
- Frequent urination (every 5, 10, 15, or 30 minutes) of small to no amounts
- “Crying” or whining while urinating
- Blood in urine
- More frequent accidents in the house or dribbling of urine
- Licking around the urinary opening
- Foul smelling and cloudy urine
- Increased thirst
- Decreased appetite
- Unusually tired or lethargic
How is a UTI diagnosed?
A diagnosis is usually quick and easy. Your veterinarian can run a urine, or possibly a blood test, to identify a urinary tract infection. An overall check of your pet is typically recommended to identify other complications, such as struvite urinary stones and crystals, or an underlying health condition, such as diabetes.
How are they treated?
UTIs are often successfully treated with a round of antibiotics. A change of diet and increased water intake is also a strategy to combat and prevent another infection. There are a number of natural remedies to avoid contamination, such as adding cranberry extract, vitamin C, and probiotics to your pet’s diet. UTIs are serious, so it’s imperative that you consult your veterinarian on a treatment plan for your furbaby.