Sometimes it’s hard to know when your dog isn’t feeling well, but urinary problems have a way of getting the attention they deserve. When dogs have blood in their urine, strain to urinate, produce abnormally small or large amounts of urine, or start having accidents in the house, it’s obvious that something is wrong. Let’s take a look at some common urinary problems in dogs and what can be done about them.
1. Urinary Tract Infection
Bacterial urinary tract infections (UTIs) are most common in females but can occur in any dog. Bladder infections are relatively routine but the situation is more serious if the infection involves a dog’s kidneys. A veterinarian may be able to diagnose a UTI based on your dog’s symptoms and a routine urinalysis but more complicated cases require blood work, a urine culture, or other diagnostic tests. Bladder infections usually respond well to treatment with an appropriate antibiotic.
Kidney infections often require hospitalization for intravenous fluid therapy and antibiotics. If urinary tract infections become a recurrent problem, your veterinarian will need to look for an underlying cause.
2. Bladder Stones
Stones (uroliths) can develop anywhere in a dog’s urinary tract but are most commonly found within the bladder. Large stones are usually visible on x-rays, but an abdominal ultrasound may be needed to find smaller ones. Bladder stones can be composed of a variety of minerals, including struvite, calcium oxalate, and urate, and treatment recommendations will vary based on which type of stone is identified.
For example, struvite stones can usually be dissolved by feeding dogs specific type of foods or giving them urinary acidifiers, but surgery is necessary to remove other types of stones. Sometimes a stone will become lodged in the urethra, which complete prevents a dog from urinating. This is an emergency! If you think your dog has a urethral blockage, bring them to a veterinarian immediately.
3. Bladder Cancer
Different types of cancer can affect all parts of a dog’s urinary tract, but transitional cell carcinoma (TCC) of the bladder is the most common. This is an aggressive, malignant cancer. It is commonly diagnosed through a combination of urinalysis, urine sediment cytology, bladder tumor antigen testing, x-rays and/or ultrasound, and tissue biopsy.
Treatment for TCC may involve surgery, chemotherapy, radiation treatment, and/or palliative care. Most dogs with TCC take the drug piroxicam because it relieves discomfort and also appears to slow the progression of the disease. It is important to understand that even the most aggressive forms of treatment will not cure TCC, but they can improve a dog’s quality of life and prolong survival.
4. Kidney Failure
Acute kidney failure occurs when infection, exposure to toxins (e.g., antifreeze), or other problems cause the kidneys to lose their ability to function over a short period of time. Chronic kidney failure occurs more gradually and oftentimes no specific cause can be identified. Dogs with kidney failure often drink and urinate more than normal, become lethargic, stop eating, vomit, and lose weight.
Later in the course of the disease, they may produce only small amounts of urine or stop urinating altogether. The results of blood work and a urinalysis can determine if a dog’s kidneys are functioning properly, but additional tests may be needed to identify an underlying cause. Treatment for kidney failure depends on a dog’s specific condition but typically involves some combination of fluid therapy, special diets, and medications to treat the underlying cause or manage symptoms. Chronic kidney failure does get worse over time but the speed with which this happens can vary tremendously.
5. Urinary Incontinence
Urinary incontinence most commonly affects spayed, female dogs but can develop in any individual. It is usually caused by hormonal deficiencies that result in a loss of control of the urethral sphincter (the muscle that prevents urine from leaking out of the bladder), but structural or neurological problems can also be involved.
Dogs who are incontinent leak urine but otherwise appear to be normal. Mildly affected individuals may only occasionally leak small amounts of urine (particularly when they are sleeping). In extreme cases, affected dogs drip urine almost continuously. Dogs with incontinence can develop skin problems around their hind end as a result of urine scald, and are at higher risk for urinary tract infections.
Faith Courtney is a dog lover who can’t get enough of K9 love. She’s had dogs around her home since she was 8 years old. Many years on, she still keeps dogs around her home. Her family likes nothing more than to take the dogs out to the a dog park where they all can stretch their legs.
COMMENTS FROM LOVINMYPUP.COM:
This is always a problem when your pup has a problem with “accidents”. This article reviews many of the common causes of urinary incontinence in dogs. Some of these problems are more serious than others, but they all seem to have the same result. We have had two female Dobies, one of which is Bella) who developed urinary incontinence after being spayed due to the decreased hormone levels. By starting the medication “Incurin:” both dogs were able to stop their incontinence. Make sure you consult your Veterinarian should this problem arise with your pup.
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