Urinary Catheterization in Dogs

Urinary Catheterization in Dogs - Conditions Treated, Procedure, Efficacy, Recovery, Cost, Considerations, Prevention
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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. 

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. 

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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





Twelve Years


7 found this helpful


7 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
Blood In Urine
My dog had a catheter on Tuesday to get some urine for a standard check up because he’s diabetic. Today I noticed he has he has hematuria and I wasn’t sure if I should take him back or if it’s normal after such a trauma. How many days can I expect him to have blood? He was lethargic the day after and didn’t seem to feel but he also had lab work, ear cleaning, nail trim and a Freestyle Libre put on because he has Type 1 Diabetes. His urinalysis came back normal, no infection and no ketones. His labs were normal but a slightly elevated liver enzyme and cholesterol. Everything else looked good.

Sept. 3, 2020

Answered by Dr. Michele K. DVM

7 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. It is possible that the catheterization did cause some trauma and that caused the blood in his urine. It sounds like your veterinarian is doing a good job working with you to keep everything under control, and they would likely would have seen blood in the urine at the time if it was a problem. I think I would monitor him closely, and if it is not improving over a day or two, then have a recheck urinalysis for him, perhaps they could catch a free-flow sample and see what is going on as well. I hope it all goes well for him and you are able to keep him healthy.

Sept. 3, 2020

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American Bulldog



Three Years


8 found this helpful


8 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
Painful Urination
I would like to see if my Dog Could get a permanent cath he has been diagnosed with a disc disease

July 15, 2020

Answered by Dr. Michele K. DVM

8 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Permanent urinary catheters are not something that we typically do in dogs. They are extremely hard to manage, they are highly prone to infection and cause scar tissue problems, and they are generally seen as a bad idea. There may be other options for your dog, and that would be something to talk to your veterinarian or Veterinary neurologist about. I'm sorry that is happening to your dog, and I hope things go well for him.

July 15, 2020

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