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What is Urinary Catheterization?

Urinary catheterization in dogs is used a procedure done by a veterinarian. This is when the veterinarian places a plastic tube, known as a catheter, into the dog’s penile urethra or vulva urethra. Urinary catheterization is often used to diagnose and treat underlying problems involving the dog’s urinary tract system. 

The goal of performing a urinary catheterization in dogs depends on why the procedure is being done. One goal of the procedure may be to collect urine from the dog. Urine samples are often used for tests such as cytologies, urinalysis, and/or dipstix. Another reason a urinary catheter may be placed is due to help the urine move if there is an obstruction in the bladder area. 

Since urinary catheterization in dogs is a simple procedure, it is often used. Most dogs who undergo surgical procedures will require a urinary catheter to be placed either before or after surgery. 

In most cases, any board certified veterinarian can place a urinary catheter in a dog. Some veterinarians are able to place the catheters without any anesthesia needed. But, in most cases a dose of general or local anesthesia is administered prior to the procedure. In some cases, the urinary catheter may need to be sutured in place. If that’s the case, of course some sort of anesthesia will be needed. 

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Urinary Catheterization Procedure in Dogs

Prior to performing a urinary catheterization, the veterinarian may or may not provide a local or general anesthesia to the dog. Since urinary catheterization can be painful in dogs, a mild, local anesthesia is used in most cases. 

Once the veterinarian is ready to place the urinary catheter, he or she will need to find the correct size catheter. Catheter sizes depend on the size and sex of your pet. They also depend on if the procedure is being done to treat or diagnose a problem. After the correct size catheter is chosen, the veterinarian will often add some lubrication to the catheter. This lessens the chance of causing pain and irritation from inserting the urinary catheter. 

In the case the dog is a male, the penile area is clipped with surgical blades. The area is also cleaned with an aseptic. In the event the urinary catheterization is performed on a female dog, the opening of the vagina is clipped and cleaned with an aseptic. 

After the area is clipped and cleaned, the veterinarian will feed the catheter through the urethral opening. The urethral opening is the opening that releases urine from the bladder. The catheter is sent through the urethra until it reaches the bladder. Once it reaches the bladder, a urine stream will begin to flow through the catheter. 

If the urinary catheterization procedure was done for a sample, the veterinarian will collect the same from the urine stream. In most cases, the catheter is removed immediately after the sample is collected. 

Sometimes, the veterinarian will leave the catheter in anywhere from minutes to hours. If the dog needs the catheter in for a prolonged period of time, steps are taken to ensure the dog can not get the catheter out. Usually this involves sutures and/or a glue safe for skin. 

When your dog is able to leave the veterinary clinic following a urinary catheterization will depend on why the procedure was done. In most simple cases, the dog can leave the clinic immediately following the catheterization. Sometimes you may wait to hear from the veterinarian about any test results. 

When other surgery is performed, and urinary catheterization is needed, the dog may need to spend anywhere from a day to a few days in the clinic. This will all be dependant on why the procedure was needed in the first place. 

Efficacy of Urinary Catheterization in Dogs

Urinary catheterization is a common procedure done in dogs. The procedure is usually quite effective in achieving its goal. That is as long as the urinary catheter is placed correctly. 

If anesthesia is involved, there may be effects to your dog. This is the case in any procedure that involves using local and/or general anesthesia. 

Urinary catheterization is a simple, safe procedure. So, in most cases, major side effects are not present. Once in awhile there may be trauma from inserting the catheter. 

Alternate treatments will depend on why the catheter is being placed. For example, if veterinarian needs a urine sample, there are other ways to obtain one  that may be more appropriate. Trays are made available that can easily slip under a dog to collect a sample while they urinate, or the  veterinarian may manually express the bladder into a specimen cup. 

In a lot of cases, using a tray is a successful way to obtain a urine sample. But, using a urinary catheter is a better way to obtain a pure urine sample. When the urine is collected in the catheter, it goes through a sterile opening and is not exposed to outside elements that might contaminate the sample. Urine in trays, on the other hands, have the risk of being exposed to dirt, pollution, etc. This can make urine test results hard to read. 

Urinary Catheterization Recovery in Dogs

The aftercare of the urinary catheterization procedure will depend on if the catheter is removed shortly after or a permanent placement. Observing the dog is the best thing that can be done following urinary catheterization. It is important to ensure that the dog doesn’t display signs that may mean he or she is suffering from any urinary stress. Especially if the catheter was only placed for a short while. 

If the urinary catheter is permanent, special aftercare is important. The dog may need to wear an Elizabethan collar while the catheter is in place. Permanent catheters should be monitored many times a day. Catheter tubes should be free of any twists or knots. The dog owner should also be able to see urine flowing through the catheter. It is also important that dog owners wash their hands before and after handling their dog’s urinary catheter. 

Dog owners should also treat permanent urinary catheters with care. They should try their best not to pull at the catheter. Dogs should also not be able to bother the catheter. Many veterinarians recommend crate rest after a permanent catheter is placed. In order to ensure the catheter isn’t becoming irritated from daily life, you will want to make sure it is free from redness and/or inflammation. 

Veterinarians often recommend keeping the area where the catheter is inserted clean and free of debris. This is often achieved by cleaning the area daily with a damp rag and gentle soap. 

How fast the dog shows signs of improvements will depend on why the urinary catheterization was done. If urine was used to run tests, the veterinarian will need to find the underlying problem. Once that problem is found, treatment can begin. Depending on the severity of the issue, changes may be noticed anywhere from immediately to many months down the road following the start of treatment. 

The same goes for any post-treatment medications and/or follow-up exams. If the urinary catheter was used during surgery, most veterinarians will send home pain medications. In some cases, they may also prescribe an antibiotic. Veterinarians also usually want a follow-up exam within 2 weeks following the procedure. 

If a urinary catheter was used for diagnostic purposes, the end test results will determine medication needs and/or follow-up appointments. Depending on the results, a plan may be made via a telephone conversation between the veterinarian and dog owner. In other cases, the veterinarian may require the dog owner and dog to return to the veterinary clinic to discuss a treatment plan. 

Cost of Urinary Catheterization in Dogs

The cost of urinary catheterization in dogs varies. There are many different factors that play into the total cost of the procedure. These factors may include, but are not limited to the size and/or sex of the dog, the reason why the urinary catheter is being placed, anesthesia requirements, and/or any treatment needed prior to or follow the urinary catheterization. 

Cost, in most cases, is mainly centered around why the urinary catheter needed to be placed. Simply put, the total cost of a urine sample and tests may be significantly less than a surgical procedure that required a urinary catheter. 

Some urinary catheterization procedures may cost as little as $100. Procedures that are considered more severe may cost as high as $3,000. 

Dog Urinary Catheterization Considerations

The urinary tract system plays an important part in the overall well being of a dog. Combining that fact and the knowledge how safe urinary catheterization is, the pros of the procedure outweigh the cons.

Urinary tract blockages can be fatal in dogs. That is why when there is a blockage, urinary catheterization is almost always used as one of the first treatment steps. Placing a urinary catheter can really be a life saving procedure for some dogs.

Any procedure that involves anesthesia has risks associated with it. Some dogs will also experience bladder and urethra irritation from the catheter being placed. 

The need for the procedure to be done again depends on why the urinary catheterization was performed. Most of the time, if lifestyle changes aren’t made, the dog will require a urinary catheter again. 

Urinary Catheterization Prevention in Dogs

The most common conditions urinary catheters treat in dogs are bladder stones and urinary tract obstructions. 

Thankfully, there is a way to help prevent bladder stones in dogs. The most popular, and most veterinarian recommended way, is by a change in diet. If the stones are recurring, veterinarians often put the dog on a special prescription diet to reduce the likelihood of stones forming.

Dogs who often have urinary tract infections may also require frequent urinary catheterization. If this is the case, the owner needs to monitor the dog’s bathroom habits on a regular basis. It is important for the dog’s owner to know the signs to look for to identify an infection. 

All dogs will not show the same symptoms if they are suffering from an infection of the urinary tract system. Symptoms may range from inappropriate urination to blood in the urine. Many dogs often have trouble urinating or only dribble urine during a bathroom break. 

Urinary tract infections in dogs can progress quickly, so it is important to contact a veterinarian as soon as the first symptom is noticed. 

Urinary Catheterization Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Shih Tzu
5 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Difficulty Urinating

I have a ShiTsu dog, I have him Catheterized by a Vet because he is putting a lot of pressure to urinate and only drops of urine
quite sticky came out of his question is, it is advisable to do an operation? To get the stone out of his urinary track? And, is it also normal after a few hours that there is blood in his urine?

Thank you

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1526 Recommendations
If Gabi has a stone blocking his urethra, surgery is the only option to help get rid of that stone. The bladder stones can cause significant damage and bleeding, and that is quite common.

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9 Years
Serious condition
1 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Unable to urinate

Medication Used

Tramadol, prazosin
Tramadol, prazosin, baytril

My dog Toby had disc surgery 3 weeks ago, he couldn’t urinate right before the surgery . They put in a Foley catheter, he had it for 2 weeks, when they removed it, he still could not urinate. He has an ecoli bladder infection that is amoxicillin resistant. Now taking bay trail. Also taking prazocsin to relax the sphincter. The vet has been straight cathing him 2 times a day for a week. I learned and am now doing it myself. How many times a day should I be doing it? Right now we can’t express him it won’t work even for my vet.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3203 Recommendations
The frequency really depends on many factors, but generally if Toby was urinating three times per day you should be doing three times per day (or more if he is on fluid therapy); you should also follow your Veterinarian’s instructions as well as they may indicate a certain number of times per day based on their observation. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Thank you very much!

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4 Years
Moderate condition
1 found helpful
Moderate condition

My dog Billy is a daschound and a week ago he had a disc slip in his back that has left him unable to walk and unable to wee but will poo but not know that he did as in he can't control it. Billy lost all deep pain with his back injury and my vet suspects that back surgery probably won't help him. A week on and we are still catheterising Billy without any improvement from him on the wholefront. My vet wants me to put billy down. But I think where there is a will then there is a way. Can i get a permanent catherisation system put in billy?. Is there any way that i can make his catherisation tube stay in permanently? Don't say no as I won't accept no and I'm not putting him to sleep

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3203 Recommendations
It is not a case of can we place a urinary catheter long term, it is a case of should we consider doing so given Billy’s condition; an inability to urinate, faecal incontinence and paralysis is not an active or fully life for a dog Billy’s age. Any discussion should be with your Veterinarian about possible options; I do not believe it is a good idea from an animal welfare point of view and the risk of secondary infections is high, however please see the two links below. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

My dog is 13 I notice yesterday he was having problems urinating it was coming out in drops do u think it’s a uti or do u think he needs a catheter to make him urinate pls help

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12 Years
Serious condition
1 found helpful
Serious condition

I have a 12 year old pug . He has urinary calculi . After every few days the urine passage gets blocked n he is putting pressure to urinare while only few drops come out . Aftr cathether n antibiotics he seems to be ok for a while . Lately even after catheter he was dribbling a thin stream
Of urine and putting lot of pressure . Pls advice is it ok to get cathether done fr him after every few days. Also if he dribbles or ( tiny drops) of urine r cmng out is it necessary ( preventive ) to get cathether immediately for him . He is a Pug currently on struvite manaagemny food as vet prescribed since 6 mnths . Hope he is not in pain as he seems uncomfortable

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3203 Recommendations
Catheterisation is only a short term solution; a review of any possible infection by culture and sensitivity testing along with some management of struvite stones of acetohydroxamic acid in addition to the current diet. Repeated catheterisation may introduce infection as well as causing trauma and inflammation which can cause issues with urination; a more long term approach may need to be taken. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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