If your pet is urinating frequently, straining to urinate, or having accidents, there are many possible culprits. At Volunteer Veterinary Hospital, the most frequent reason we find for these symptoms is a urinary tract infection. Urinary tract infections in pets are a common (and painful) problem that is very important to treat right away.
Normally the bladder is a sterile place where bacteria are not found. Urinary tract infections in pets start when rouge bacteria from the environment breach the normal defenses of the body and take up residence within the urinary tract.
Initially this infection is isolated to the bladder. This means that symptoms are localized and affected pets usually do not appear to be ill. Most times they will continue to eat and drink normally and are not lethargic or febrile. Common symptoms of a urinary tract infection include:
- Frequent urination
- Voiding small amounts of urine
- Straining to urinate
- Vocalizing while urinating
- Urinating in abnormal places
- Foul smelling urine
- Noticeable blood in the urine
Diagnosing and Treating Urinary Tract Infections in Pets
If your pet is exhibiting signs of a urinary tract infection, typically we will want to start with a physical examination of the animal as well as a urinalysis (testing of urine). A urine sample may be collected by:
- Free catch (Catching the urine in a clean container as the pet naturally voids)
- Passing a urinary catheter
- Cystocentesis (Using a needle to collect a sterile sample from the bladder)
A microscopic examination of the urine specimen, as well as a few simple chemical tests, can give us a lot of information about your pet’s kidney function, metabolic function, hydration status, and the presence of infection.
Sometimes the urine will be cultured in order to identify the bacteria present and determine which antibiotic will treat it most effectively.
Most uncomplicated infections are easily treated with a course of antibiotics from our pet pharmacy. Most patients respond quickly, showing noticeable improvement within a few days of treatment. Sometimes, however, urinary tract infections in pets are more complicated. If there is an underlying problem such as a metabolic issue, a growth, or urinary stones, additional diagnostics and treatments may be required.
Untreated, a simple urinary tract infection can become quite problematic. If infection spreads to the kidneys, it can turn into pyelonephritis. Pyelonephritis is a systemic infection that can become quite serious.
Urine crystals in the presence of infection can also lead to urinary stone formation. It is important to treat urinary tract infections in pets immediately and finish the prescribed treatment and recommended rechecks in order to prevent further issues. Some pets may need to eat a prescription veterinary diet in order to ward off urinary stones.
Urinary tract infections are a common problem in pets that can be quite uncomfortable. Fortunately most are pretty easily treated. If you suspect that your pet might be experiencing a urinary tract infection, call us right away. There is no reason that he or she needs to wait for help.