What are Urethritis?
Urethritis in dogs is a painful condition in which the urethra becomes inflamed and swollen. As a result of the swelling around the urethra, narrowing within the urethra occurs, which causes strained and often painful urination.
The urethra is the opening, or tube, in which urine is expelled from the body. The bladder sphincter muscle has the responsibility of keeping the dog’s bladder closed, and this is located at the top of the urethra. The urethra is connected to the bladder, and in male dogs, this tube is located within the penis. The urethra of female dogs is shorter and slightly wider, therefore, female dogs do not suffer from urethritis as often as males.
Urethritis makes urination painful and difficult by making the dog feel as if he needs to urinate often. When the dog tries to urinate, only a little comes out at a time. This inflammation can become severe, and life-threatening, if the urethra becomes blocked.
Urethritis in dogs is inflammation within the urethra caused by an infection, cancer, or injury. It is characterized by swelling of the urethra in the obstruction of urine flow.
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Symptoms of Urethritis in Dogs
The main symptom of urethritis is the straining and pain when urinating. This is usually a classic sign of the condition, in the veterinarian should be seen as soon as possible. Other symptoms include:
- Blood in the urine
- Inability to urinate
- Genital discharge
- Pain in the abdomen
- Extreme lethargy
- Serious discomfort
- Pacing, as if trying to find a place to urinate
Urethritis can be quite painful to dogs, and the symptoms can be similar to other types of conditions that affect the bladder, kidneys, and urethra. Similar types of disorders of the lower urinary tract include:
- Bladder infection
- Hormone dysfunction
- Kidney infection
- Weak bladder
- Congenital abnormality
- Prostate disease
Causes of Urethritis in Dogs
Urethra in dogs is caused by a variety of factors. Knowing the causes of urethritis can help prevent this inflammation from occurring. Causes of urethritis include:
- Bacterial infection (prostate, vagina, or bladder)
- Stones within the bladder
- Injury or blunt trauma
- Chronic granulomatosis
- Urinary catheter usage
Diagnosis of Urethritis in Dogs
If your dog is showing symptoms of urethritis or any type of bladder discomfort, call your veterinarian immediately. Once you arrive at the veterinarian’s office he will begin to do a complete physical examination, first by palpating the bladder area with his fingers in order to check for swelling. The veterinarian will perform blood testing, urine testing, and possible imaging in order to check for stones that may cause obstruction.
He will ask you questions pertaining to his symptoms, as he will need to know when his symptoms began and how long they have lasted. He will also need to know if your dog has been in an accident, such as a fall or if he has gotten injured within the area.
Your veterinarian may also want to perform a biopsy of the tissue of the urethra, but this may occur after the diagnosis of urethritis. This may also occur if the x-rays do not pinpoint any bladder stones that could be causing the struggle to urinate.
A cystoscopy may also be performed, which is a tiny viewing device that can be inserted into the urethra with your dog under general anesthesia. This will also aid the veterinarian in viewing the inside of the urethra and give him more information as to the underlying cause.
The blood testing and the urine testing will be enough information for the veterinarian to know precisely what is causing the urethritis, whether it is an infection or stones. If blood testing shows any signs of a more serious health issue, such as possible cancer, your veterinarian will proceed with a definite biopsy and suggestions for treatment methods.
Treatment of Urethritis in Dogs
Treatment of urethritis is dependent upon the underlying condition. Once your veterinarian has diagnosed the condition, as well as what has caused the inflammation, he will explain to you the treatment plan. Treatment methods may include:
Removal of Obstruction
If your dog is suffering from stones in the bladder, a tumor, or other obstruction, your veterinarian may need to perform a surgical procedure to remove the blockage. This may require a hospital stay for a few days to a week, depending on the complexities of the surgery and how long it takes for him to begin to recover.
If your dog’s condition is due to a bacterial infection, your medical professional will prescribe antibiotics to fight and get rid of the infection. It will take a few days before they begin to work against the infection; your veterinarian will give you advice on how to care for your dog if he is sent home to take the medication.
If your dog has cancer then your veterinarian will discuss with you the options for cancer treatment, namely chemotherapy and radiation. This treatment may begin after any surgery is performed to remove the tumor, if possible.
If your companion’s urethritis is caused by chronic granulomatous urethritis, then he will prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs. These medications help relieve any of the symptoms associated with this condition, such as inflammation and swelling.
Recovery of Urethritis in Dogs
Once your dog is able to come home from treatment, any treatment given by the veterinarian in terms of medication will continue. Your veterinarian will give you advice on how to properly care for him in his familiar environment, and will alert you to any side effects that the medication may cause, and discuss with you what to watch for in terms of new symptoms or behaviors. It will be important to contact your veterinarian if he develops any alarming symptoms.
Your veterinarian will want to see him again for follow-up visits to be sure he is becoming well again. Capturing these follow-up visits, he may perform additional blood work and urinalysis to check for the status of the infection, if that is what caused the urethritis.
Typically, dogs recover from urethritis once treatment has been successful. In terms of a cancer diagnosis, the prognosis is guarded depending on the level of cancer your dog may have. Your veterinarian will discuss with you the success rate of his cancer and communicate with you any new treatment options that are available.
Urethritis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
2 weeks ago my dog had bladder surgery to remove a bladder stone and one that was stuck in her urethra. She’s still having incontinence and dribbling which the vet said she may just need more time to heal. However now I noticed her skin is swollen above her urethra and kind of sagging down. No blood in urine/urethra and no redness to her urethra either. She can hold urine for 4h at night but can only go 20min without squatting if she’s up and about. Could it be urethritis? Or is a bladder prolapse something that can happen in dogs?
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Our 5 month old male Bernedoodle puppy has had chronic urinary problems since we got him, at 10 weeks old. When we first got him, he needed to urinate literally every 5 minutes. We took a urine sample to the vet, which had crystals and white blood cells in it = UTI and on antibiotics. 2 weeks later, no crystals in the urine, but still many white blood cells. Cystocentesis determined the urine in the bladder was fine, but the infection was happening further down the line. Pup was sent for an ultrasound, where they determined he produces a larger that normal amount of male discharge and it had caused an infection under the foreskin. Flushed it out, on antibiotics. Fast forward to last week. Brought him in for his round of immunizations and they tested his urine = white blood cells again, just like before. Now the Dr. diagnosed him with chronic granulated urethritis and he's on anti-inflammatory meds for life. I am seriously questioning whether this is definitely what his problem is. Vet said they "have ruled everything else out." I just don't know what's going on with him?
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My 5 year old female Chiweenie has blood following urination- bright red- it is not in her urine, but drips after she urinates. She has been on antibiotics with no results and had an ultrasound which could not find any obstruction or reason for irritation. I am looking to understand other options and approaches, as the next test recommended would be over $2000 and may not be conclusive. She also urinates frequently. Any suggestions?
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My dog had a urinalysis yesterday morning and a day after, tonight , he has pee all over the floor , at least 6 times. Is it possible that the manipulation caused an imflammation or something else ?
The results of the test and blood work came our normal , i don't know why this sudden chance. He's also unable to sleep tonight , he rests for a bit and starts walking
Hoping for a possible explanation
Thank yo beforehand.
Urinalysis is either done by collecting a sample during urination or by cystocentesis (puncturing the bladder through the skin with a needle to get a clean sample); other times a catheter may be used to collect a sample, in these cases there may be some discomfort an incontinence afterwards but is usually for a day or so. If the problem persists, you should return to your Veterinarian for a check. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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Our 2 year old Havanese Leo was able to hold his urine for 6+ hours. He has been diagnosed with mild IBD. In April we did a food trial to transition from Hills Prescription I/D Egg& Rice to Royal Canin prescription soy food. Within 24 hours Leo peed in the house in the morning only which is when he eats the most food. Water intake has been normal. We stopped the Royal Canin but tried to transition to Canidae Bison and green pea. Same thing happened. We have stopped all new foods and transitioned back to the Hills I/D egg & rice. We have stopped all flavored bones and chicken flavored tylan tablets (that we order from Wedgewood pharmacy). Our vet did an ultrasound and there is no sign of any stones. Leo was able to fully empty his bladder the day of the test. The bladder culture showed no infection. Could the food trials have caused systemic inflammation and decreased Leo's ability to hold his urine 6 hours?! In May we did a two week course of Zeniquin just in case there was underlying or untetected infection. within 24 hours of the Zeniquin AND for two weeks following the Zeniquin Leo returned to his normal schedule of holding his urine from 6am to NOON when we get home for lunch. Any ideas?! Thank you!
There are some instances where a change in food causes an increase in urination and an inability to hold urine (incontinence) which is usually attributable to diets higher in protein which causes an increase in water consumption and subsequent urination. The body is a sensitive machine which can be affected by a ingredient in the food which may cause irritation to Leo’s urinary tract (like an allergy) which may cause some incontinence. I would keep Leo on the Hills Prescription diet and monitor his urine monthly (for example) to see if there are any anomalies in his urine or urinary habits. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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