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What is Inability to Urinate?

The inability to urinate can be caused by numerous factors. In any case, it is a signal that your dog has a health problem. An immediate visit to the veterinarian is imperative, in order to rule out the cause and to avoid serious complications detrimental to your dog (such as bladder rupture). If your dog is showing signs of an inability to urinate, one eventual consequence will be an over-distended bladder. If this occurs, there are numerous complications that could develop as a result, such as infection or possible future incontinence. The normal process of urination is an intricate series of action and includes specific activities such as muscle contraction and nerve function. Urinary problems are more common in male dogs, than female.

There are two common medical terms correlated to urination in dogs. This includes voiding, or the incomplete emptying or urine that is not associated with obstruction, or "functional", which is caused directly by a problem associated with the normal action of an organ.

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Inability to Urinate Average Cost

From 74 quotes ranging from $500 - $8,000

Average Cost

$3,500

Symptoms of Inability to Urinate in Dogs

The inability to urinate can quickly become an urgent situation. Do not delay in taking your dog to the veterinarian if you see any of the following symptoms:

  • Urine that flows in spurts or trickles
  • Frequent attempts to urinate (often delayed and without success)
  • Showing strain when attempting to pass urine
  • Leakage (this may happen because the bladder is so full that it cannot hold any more liquid)
  • Blood in the urine
  • Licking of urinary opening
  • Low appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Tender abdominal area
  • Lethargy
  • Disinterest in normal activities
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Causes of Inability to Urinate in Dogs

There can be numerous causes leading towards an eventual inability to urinate in dogs:

  • Obstruction in urethra (this can be as a result of blockage caused by crystals in the urine, and can be brought on by something as simple as inadequate water intake)
  • A dog who has had many urinary tract infections may begin to have trouble urinating due to numerous events of bladder distention
  • A urinary tract infection may move into the bladder
  • Scar tissue on urethra or bladder
  • Anatomic abnormalities (congenital or contracted)
  • Spinal cord injury, lesions or disease causing a compression
  • Trauma or injury to nerves leading to compression
  • Disk herniation
  • Dysautonomia (a neurological disease also known as Key-Gaskell syndrome)
  • Some surgeries may bring about an inability to urinate (which is most likely a temporary complication)
  • Cancer
  • Prostate disease
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Diagnosis of Inability to Urinate in Dogs

Upon arrival at the clinic or hospital, be prepared to relay to the veterinarian all symptoms and behavioral changes you have seen in your dog. The veterinarian will, in most cases, want to begin with a complete physical examination, followed by a urinalysis, which may show an infection or evidence of inflammation. Blood work, involving a CBC and chemistry profile may be included.

If the veterinarian has not diagnosed a simple infection or feels that further investigation is needed, a urethral catheter may be inserted to rule out the possibility of a blockage. It is interesting to note that an obstruction of the urethra is more common in male canines, due to the narrowing of the urethra in the penis.

Additional testing may include:

  • Abdominal palpation - if kidneys are full, and bladder is empty (anuria) it points to lack of urine production which is an illness within itself

  • CT scan to assess caudal spine for tumor
  • Myelography (radiography exam to look for spinal cord injury)
  • Epidurography (radiography exam to check for spinal cysts)
  • Abdominal ultrasound to check for kidney or bladder concerns
  • Cystoscopy (insertion of a scope to view inside the lower urinary tract)
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Treatment of Inability to Urinate in Dogs

Treatment will correlate directly to the exact cause of the inability to urinate. The immediate relief of your dog’s discomfort, as well as the importance of eliminating the problem before the situation worsens, will be of paramount importance. Treatment may include:

  • For a urinary tract infection, antibiotics will be administered
  • Water intake may be increased
  • Urinary acidifiers or alkalinizers may be given
  • Your dog will be given medication to relax the bladder and urethra
  • Catheterization of the bladder may be done up to three times per day
  • Manual bladder expression at regular intervals (several times daily for example in the case of spinal cord injury) could be required, depending on the reason for the inability to urinate
  • An obstruction may mean surgery if a retropulsion of the obstructing material back into the bladder is not possible
  • A congenital abnormality could need surgical correction
  • Non-neutered male dogs may be treated and then neutered if the problem is a prostate issue

Rest assured the veterinarian will monitor your dog carefully. She will take all appropriate measures such as timely urine cultures, to assure that infection does not set in, or that the problem does not progress further (preventing kidney damage for example).

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Recovery of Inability to Urinate in Dogs

The length of time for recovery and the amount of home or clinic management will be contingent on the cause of the problem. Many dogs regain normal urination, but some may require a catheter that remains inside the body for days to weeks, in order to maintain urine flow and healthy bladder size. In time, the bladder may recover the ability to function normally.

If your dog has a spinal cord injury or nerve damage, the veterinarian will teach you how to manually empty the bladder. Regular clinical visits will be necessary in order for the veterinarian to verify the continued health of your dog. Urinalysis on a frequent basis, as well as antibiotic therapy, may be needed for some time. A healthy diet and sufficient exercise are also important. Recurrence is possible, so take your dog to the veterinarian without delay if you suspect a relapse or a potential infection.

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Inability to Urinate Average Cost

From 74 quotes ranging from $500 - $8,000

Average Cost

$3,500

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Inability to Urinate Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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dog-breed-icon

Yorkie

dog-age-icon

Three Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Not drinking as much as normal and not peeing as much as usual. More active today then he has been the last 2 days and will pee alittle. Nose is cold, not lethargic at all. Nothing new has changed in routine, food except he went to the groomers on Wednesday for the 1st time in a year and didn’t eat or drink Thursday but Thursday night at 2/3rds cup of food and drank 6 ozs of water, yesterday he ate 2/3rds food but did not finish all his water.

Dec. 5, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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0 Recommendations

Hi there, you are through to Dr Linda. To confirm, you are worried your dog has been eating and drinking less recently? There can be many potential causes including a source of pain e.g. an eye ulcer brought on by shampooing at the groomers, a rotten tooth or a strained muscle. Orher potential causes would include pancreatitis, gall bladder disease etc. Unfortunately, those are non specific signs. If you are concerned, a vet visit is best as they can examine him and may run some tests such as a basic blood test.

Dec. 5, 2020

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pug/terrier

dog-age-icon

Five Years

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Unknown severity

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4 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

What can I do from.home before rushing to a vet...he is not going pee...he goes out does all the actions lifts his leg amd everything but nothing comes out

Nov. 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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4 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, not being able to urinate even when you're trying is an emergency, and there is not anything that you can do at home. If he has a blockage, that will likely be fatal, and he needs attention right away. If he has a urinary tract infection and you are catching it early, that is even better, but without being able to see him I cannot say which one it might be. He needs to go to the ER.

Nov. 28, 2020

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Pug

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Fifteen Years

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Unknown severity

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4 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Noisy Breathing

hi, our 15 year old pug started a dry cough a few days ago, not all the time but especially at night, he was still eating, drinking and going outside but his cough would be pronounced at times and his chest would heave then he would relax and stop, then this morning he is unable to urinate, no idea of conditions are connected or not or age related. I gave him CBD oil for a few days based on some research on the internet with limited if any change in the original coughing issue. Today after noticing he couldn't urinate i gave hi a very small dose of human Valium hoping it may help him relax,

Sept. 27, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

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4 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Coughing at night can be a sign of heart disease, and if he is unable to urinate, that may be an emergency. It would be best to have him seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine your pet and see what might be causing this, and let you know what treatment might help.

Oct. 11, 2020

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Dachshund

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Three Months

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Not Peeing

My puppy seems to be struggling to wee for the past half an hour

Sept. 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I hope that your puppy is feeling better. If they are still having problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get treatment.

Oct. 12, 2020

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Pug

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One Year

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Unable To Urinate And Feeling Uneasy

My one year old pug is not able to pass the urine and is very uncomfortable

Sept. 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay in my response, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. Since I cannot see your pet, it would be best to have them seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be causing this, and get treatment if needed.

Oct. 13, 2020

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Pancho

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Dachshund

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1 Year

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Unable To Urinate

A few days ago I had tried switching my dogs diet from Pedigree to Kibbles and Bits. He seemed to have lost interest in Pedigree and he loves eating Kibbles and Bits when he plays at my fathers house. I noticed recently that the Kibbles had hair in it, and I immediately was disgusted and stopped feeding it to him. I know you’re supposed to gradually switch foods, but I did not want him to eat it any longer. We had switched him to moist and meaty dog food and had trouble with him eating that as well. I came home from work and he had thrown up the food he had eaten that morning. It was pretty much entirely solid..That evening I fasted him and started him on a bland diet of chicken and rice. We’re on day two of chicken and rice, and he has been eating tons and playing like normal but he is having difficulty passing stool. He did earlier, and it was partially yellow and soft and partially brown and solid. It had taken him a few hours to finally pass stool. So I was thinking he was on the road to recovery. I read about others having this problem while giving their dog a bland diet and it resolved within a few days but now I have noticed he isn’t drinking as much and he is hardly urinating. I wasn’t sure if maybe he isn’t drinking much because he already feels full from the chicken and rice? Or maybe he has enough water in his system from the rice? Yesterday, he had urinated all day. He tried to lift his leg several times today, but little to nothing comes out. I wasn’t sure if he was having trouble because he isn’t drinking much, or if it could be something else? If anyone has had a similar experience or any information I would greatly appreciate it!

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Daniel Joaquin, DJ or Quin

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Shih Tzu

dog-age-icon

6 Years

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Critical severity

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pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Straining To Urinate
Vomiting

Last year I lost my baby DJ, his death was really shocked us. I remember Friday night I've noticed somethings different with him, he's like anxious and stressed so I observed him for a while then noticed that he's been trying to pee but there's nothing coming out. He is pacing around the house but only to failed, so I called my uncle to accompany me to the vet but sadly there are no vet opens in the evening in our area. I've waited until it was morning but to my dismay the doctor is not around, I've tried my luck to other hospitals and sadly there are no doctors around at the same time so I was anxious worried about the condition of my dog but still waited for his doctor.. Sunday night we have a small family gathering and DJ is the center of the attention of my cousins (specially the kids) DJ is actively playing with my cousins, my aunt also noticed that DJ doesn't looked like he's in pain but at the same time where worried since he's not peeing for 3 days straight— it was really alarming but I've noticed although he cannot pee he kept on drinking water spontaneously and his appetite increased. The vet advised me to put him a catheter so that he can pee, and I agreed. But I wasn't expecting the catheter was removed from him so we rushed him in the hospital once again and during that time the doctor conducted blood tests and even x-ray and advised him to take 3 kinds of medications, I already forgot the other two but the other one is a vitamin. His results based on his tests are normal. But I doubt it, his doctor told me to conduct another x-ray because maybe there are crystals that cannot be seen in the 1st x-ray. Once again DJ have his catheter for the second time and like his 1st catheter it went out once again. So I decided not to have a catheter for the 3rd time. We spent a whole week in vet, and the next Sunday evening around 8-9 pm DJ's went to every corner of my room. He's so different I thought he was just tired but he kept on vomiting and drinking water.. Then one moment I was so anxious I went out to the living room with him, I planned not to sleep and observe him my aunt is a veterinarian she advised me to have a second opinion and I was going to contact the hospital for an appointment when I've noticed his shortness of breathing, I thought I was just seeing things then the second time around I was stunned.. The third time, I was screaming for my uncle to bring me to the hospital.. I was trying to contact DJ's personal doctor for help but he was already shaking, I don't know what to do during that time but I know my baby is going to leave me. My uncle said its like his organs collapse, he was vomiting I helplessly laid him in his bed and just whispered "It's okay, you did a great job fighting my little warrior. You can rest now" He keep his glaze on me as if asking for my permission, I broke my heart to see my baby dying in front of me— in my arms.. I wasn't expecting any of these, I am confused. Then after an hour his doctor called me, I explain to him DJ's situation then he told me "his organs collapsed and that caused him to be poisoned." It's almost a year yet I kept on blaming myself, I was so disappointed in myself because during his last days even though I was searching for his situation I cannot find enough knowledge to help him or at least lessen his pain.. Up until now I was hoping to came across the right information so I can help my friends who also have a pet like me. It was and it is truly heart breaking to loss one fur baby but It also important to have enough knowledge. I whole heartedly thank you for this information, it really helps me a lot.

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Tink

dog-breed-icon

Maltese

dog-age-icon

10 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Inability To Pee
Inability To Poop

Hi. I am hoping someone is able to help me. Tink is a miniature Maltese, and is 10 1/2 years old. He was neutered when he was roughly 3 1/2 years old. About 2-3 months ago, he started having really bad diarrhea. He was constantly going and then he got to where he would eat everything that he pooped out. I tried my best to prevent him from doing it, but with him being home by himself during the day while I am at work, I was unable to. This went on for about a month. I took him to the vet and they originally put him on metronidazole. (I believe I spelled that correctly). He was on that for a week with no improvement. I took him back to the vet and they gave him another medication that I cannot remember the name of. This did not help either. Around this time, I noticed that whenever he would try to pee, he would literally walk around the yard and try and several different spots. I did not pay attention to it at first, however then I started noticing that when he would go, it would dribble out. I took him back to the vet. This time, they did a full CBC and urinalysis. When the results came back, I was told that he had a UTI infection. They put him on clavamox (pill) and prednisone. This went on for about a week and he did not improve. I took him back on a Friday, and the vet told me that his bladder was full. She used a catheter and drained his bladder. They also did x-rays and found stones in his bladder. They did surgery on the following Tuesday to remove the stones and the surgery went well. I brought him home the same day, but for the next week every single night he would leak out urine while sleeping and would be soaking wet the next morning. This was extremely challenging due to the fact that I needed to keep the surgery site clean and also could not be with him for 10 days after the surgery. I will say that one of the improvements right after surgery was that the diarrhea went away. His stools returned to normal and he did not have a problem pooping.. When I took him back to have the staples removed, I was told that his bladder was still full and he was not emptying it. The vet showed me how to manually express his bladder. He still had issues and I took him back two days later. This time the vet told me that she was baffled and really did not know what the cause was. She did tell me that if he did not start urinating on his own, that it would eventually start to affect his kidneys. The very next day which was a Friday, I took him to another vet for a second opinion. They immediately did bloodwork in house and we had the results back right then. The vet told me that he was in acute kidney failure due to not urinating and his bladder staying full. She also told me that his white blood count was extremely high, possibly the highest that she had ever seen. I do not know the exact numbers, but his white blood count was around 69,000. They hospitalized him over the weekend giving him ivs in hopes of reversing the kidney failure. When I went back in on Monday, they did more bloodwork and this time his numbers were looking a little bit better. I was able to bring him home on that day. He was sent home with clavamox and enrofloaxin. They asked me to bring him back on that Wednesday for fluids. In the meantime, he is still not able to Pee on his own so I was manually expressing his bladder 4 times a day. When I took him back on that Wednesday, he was given fluids and more bloodwork was taken. His numbers were about the same and the white blood count was still extremely elevated. He has also gotten to where he is not pooping at all. It would kinda ooze out of him while he laid down. I was given an enema to bring home to give him once a day and also have him 1cc of lactolose a day. This helped and when I went back the next time, they said that he was not as backed up with stool. I went back in on that Friday and they gave more fluids and performed a full exam on him. The vet told me that she was baffled because normally a dog with a white blood count as high as his, he would be vomiting and extremely sick. That is not the case with Tink. He lays around a lot and does not like to get out of his bed, but his energy level has gotten higher over the course of the last several weeks. He still drinks plenty of water and is still eating. He just cannot urinate or poop. When I went back Monday, More blood work was done and his counts were still very hard. This time, they went back and did additional bloodwork and said they were sending it out to another lab to see if they could find anything. Keep in mind that he has been on antibiotics for over two months now and there is still signs of a very bad infection. They just do not know where it is coming from. I asked if it was possible that it could be his prostate or prostate gland, I was told that was highly unlikely due to him being neutered when he was 3 and I am also guessing that they could tell by feeling his stomach and abdomen. I did forget to mention that when I took him in there initially, they checked his abdomen for fluid and there was no fluid present. She said that was a good thing. The poor little guys hair is now starting to fall out due to being bathed several times a day. The vet gave me a dermalyte? Shampoo to use and said that it would help keep his skin moisturized. Today is Thursday, Thanksgiving day and I am hoping that I hear back from them tomorrow with the blood work results. I will have to go back anyway because he is almost out of the enrofloxain and clavamox. He is laying around sleeping right now, however he has always been a lazy dog, LOL, and loves to sleep. I am still expressing his bladder 3 to 4 times a day. He is also still eating and drinking like normal. I am extremely emotionally attached to this dog and I cannot stand the thought of losing him. The vet did tell me that he is not suffering and is not in any pain. One thing that I would like to add is that both of the vets that he has been to have been amazing to deal with. They have called repeatedly to check up on him and have even texted in the evening to see how he is doing. I could not ask for a better group of professionals to be taking care of my baby. Does anyone have any advice or any similar experiences? I know that the vets are open to suggestions because they are baffled also. I am praying and hoping that the cause of all of this is found soon and I can get my little buddy back to normal. I need my playful best friend back..

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Tink

dog-breed-icon

Maltese

dog-age-icon

10 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Inability To Pee
Inability To Poop

Hi. I am hoping someone is able to help me. Tink is a miniature Maltese, and is 10 1/2 years old. He was neutered when he was roughly 3 1/2 years old. About 2-3 months ago, he started having really bad diarrhea. He was constantly going and then he got to where he would eat everything that he pooped out. I tried my best to prevent him from doing it, but with him being home by himself during the day while I am at work, I was unable to. This went on for about a month. I took him to the vet and they originally put him on metronidazole. (I believe I spelled that correctly). He was on that for a week with no improvement. I took him back to the vet and they gave him another medication that I cannot remember the name of. This did not help either. Around this time, I noticed that whenever he would try to pee, he would literally walk around the yard and try and several different spots. I did not pay attention to it at first, however then I started noticing that when he would go, it would dribble out. I took him back to the vet. This time, they did a full CBC and urinalysis. When the results came back, I was told that he had a UTI infection. They put him on clavamox (pill) and prednisone. This went on for about a week and he did not improve. I took him back on a Friday, and the vet told me that his bladder was full. She used a catheter and drained his bladder. They also did x-rays and found stones in his bladder. They did surgery on the following Tuesday to remove the stones and the surgery went well. I brought him home the same day, but for the next week every single night he would leak out urine while sleeping and would be soaking wet the next morning. This was extremely challenging due to the fact that I needed to keep the surgery site clean and also could not be with him for 10 days after the surgery. I will say that one of the improvements right after surgery was that the diarrhea went away. His stools returned to normal and he did not have a problem pooping.. When I took him back to have the staples removed, I was told that his bladder was still full and he was not emptying it. The vet showed me how to manually express his bladder. He still had issues and I took him back two days later. This time the vet told me that she was baffled and really did not know what the cause was. She did tell me that if he did not start urinating on his own, that it would eventually start to affect his kidneys. The very next day which was a Friday, I took him to another vet for a second opinion. They immediately did bloodwork in house and we had the results back right then. The vet told me that he was in acute kidney failure due to not urinating and his bladder staying full. She also told me that his white blood count was extremely high, possibly the highest that she had ever seen. I do not know the exact numbers, but his white blood count was around 69,000. They hospitalized him over the weekend giving him ivs in hopes of reversing the kidney failure. When I went back in on Monday, they did more bloodwork and this time his numbers were looking a little bit better. I was able to bring him home on that day. He was sent home with clavamox and enrofloaxin. They asked me to bring him back on that Wednesday for fluids. In the meantime, he is still not able to Pee on his own so I was manually expressing his bladder 4 times a day. When I took him back on that Wednesday, he was given fluids and more bloodwork was taken. His numbers were about the same and the white blood count was still extremely elevated. He has also gotten to where he is not pooping at all. It would kinda ooze out of him while he laid down. I was given an enema to bring home to give him once a day and also have him 1cc of lactolose a day. This helped and when I went back the next time, they said that he was not as backed up with stool. I went back in on that Friday and they gave more fluids and performed a full exam on him. The vet told me that she was baffled because normally a dog with a white blood count as high as his, he would be vomiting and extremely sick. That is not the case with Tink. He lays around a lot and does not like to get out of his bed, but his energy level has gotten higher over the course of the last several weeks. He still drinks plenty of water and is still eating. He just cannot urinate or poop. When I went back Monday, More blood work was done and his counts were still very hard. This time, they went back and did additional bloodwork and said they were sending it out to another lab to see if they could find anything. Keep in mind that he has been on antibiotics for over two months now and there is still signs of a very bad infection. They just do not know where it is coming from. I asked if it was possible that it could be his prostate or prostate gland, I was told that was highly unlikely due to him being neutered when he was 3 and I am also guessing that they could tell by feeling his stomach and abdomen. I did forget to mention that when I took him in there initially, they checked his abdomen for fluid and there was no fluid present. She said that was a good thing. The poor little guys hair is now starting to fall out due to being bathed several times a day. The vet gave me a dermalyte? Shampoo to use and said that it would help keep his skin moisturized. Today is Thursday, Thanksgiving day and I am hoping that I hear back from them tomorrow with the blood work results. I will have to go back anyway because he is almost out of the enrofloxain and clavamox. He is laying around sleeping right now, however he has always been a lazy dog, LOL, and loves to sleep. I am still expressing his bladder 3 to 4 times a day. He is also still eating and drinking like normal. I am extremely emotionally attached to this dog and I cannot stand the thought of losing him. The vet did tell me that he is not suffering and is not in any pain. One thing that I would like to add is that both of the vets that he has been to have been amazing to deal with. They have called repeatedly to check up on him and have even texted in the evening to see how he is doing. I could not ask for a better group of professionals to be taking care of my baby. Does anyone have any advice or any similar experiences? I know that the vets are open to suggestions because they are baffled also. I am praying and hoping that the cause of all of this is found soon and I can get my little buddy back to normal. I need my playful best friend back..

dog-name-icon

Gigi

dog-breed-icon

Pit bull

dog-age-icon

5 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Urine Marking
Urinating In House
Urination Pain

My pitbull female had ACL surgery 1 week and 2 days ago. She has not been able to pee on her own since. We have had her bladder emptied every other day. She has been examined and no stones etc. have been found. She is now on Gabapentin and cipro for pain and now infection. Is is still difficult for her to walk but she is determined every time I take her out to pee and still nothing. She wont wall or move much when I try to help her with a sling. Is there anything I can do/try to help her at home to empty her bladder?

Inability to Urinate Average Cost

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Average Cost

$3,500

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