Can Dogs Get Bladder Infections?

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Has your potty trained dog suddenly started toileting in the house?

 

When a previously potty trained dog starts urinating in the house, don't get mad - get even. And by 'getting even' we mean get the dog checked out by a vet, because a common cause of breakdown in house training is a bladder infection. Indeed, just as people get bladder infections, so do dogs.

 

But how does this come about? Is this a problem passed between dogs and people?

Can Dogs Get Bladder Infections:  

YES!

While dogs, like people, are vulnerable to bladder infections, it will be a 'relief' (see what we did there) to learn that the condition isn't contagious between the two species. Dogs get cystitis for reasons all their own, and indeed the signs of an infection aren't always obvious until it's well-established. Read on to find out more.

Does My Dog Have a Bladder Infection?

Every dog has a 14% chance of contracting a bladder infection at some point in their life. Therefore it pays to be vigilant for the signs.

 

Typically, dog with cystitis will show one or more of the following symptoms:

  • An urgency to pass water

  • Straining to urinate

  • Repeated squatting (or leg lifting!)

  • Producing only a small puddle each time

  • Breakdown in house training

  • Blood stained urine

  • Bad smelling urine

  • Increased thirst

  • Lethargy or listlessness

 

Also, bear in mind that in the early stages most bladder infections are 'silent' and don't show signs. The only way to detect these ones is to have your vet analyze a urine sample. This means by the time your dog does display symptoms the infection is well established, making it even more important to get to the vet without delay.

How Do I Treat My Dog's Bladder Infection?

A true bladder infection requires antibiotics to settle things down. In an ideal world, your vet will culture some urine to reveal exactly which antibiotic is best suited to blitz the bugs. But, for a first-time infection, the vet may decide on a course of a good antibiotic that is appropriate as a first line attack.

 

You can also help the dog by encouraging them to drink plenty of water. Try offering water bowls in every room or even a pet drinking fountain. Some dogs prefer the taste of mineral water over tap water, which can be a neat trick to encourage them to drink.

 

Speak to your vet about whether food supplements or nutraceuticals which make the urine more acidic are appropriate for your dog. These can help clear an infection by making the urine a more hostile place for bugs to breed. However, these products are not always appropriate, especially if the dog has a history of growing bladder stones, so check with a vet first.

How is a Bladder Infection in a Dog Similar to One in Humans?

A true bladder infection, be it in the dog or a human, is caused by a microorganism breeding in the bladder, setting up inflammation and infection.

 

These bugs are most commonly an overgrowth of the normal flora and fauna found on the patient's skin or are present in feces. Poor personal hygiene, especially in females, can contribute to a bladder infection. This is because the urethra (the tube through which urine is voided) is wider and shorter than in the male. This provides the anatomical equivalent of a superhighway for bugs to pass from the outside up and into the bladder.

How is a Bladder Infection in a Dog Different than One in Humans?

One of the biggest differences when your best buddy gets a bladder infection, is that it's often 'asymptomatic'. This means the dog shows no outward signs of a problem, which lets it rumble on undetected.

 

Of course, an untreated infection is unlikely to clear itself up. This means it rumbles and grumbles, getting steadily worse. So by the time the dog pees blood, they already have a well-established infection.

 

Unfortunately, this also sets the dog up for complications that are mercifully rare in people. A long-term shift in urine pH that goes hand in hand with an infection also creates the perfect place for bladder stones to grow. Hence, the first problem you may become aware of is the dog straining to pass urine because a stone has blocked the urethra.

Case Study

A typical example is an older long-haired, female dog. Sometimes she soils the fur around her bottom, making the hair a breeding ground for bacteria. Also, because of her age, her urine is a bit weak, which reduces its disinfectant properties.

 

She starts squatting more frequently on walks, passing only a few drops of urine each time. Then, after a couple of days or so, she wets on the white kitchen floor tiles and it's evident there's blood in the urine….

 

The vet puts her on antibiotics and an anti-inflammatory medication for the uncomfortable bladder, and within 24 hours the dog is rediscovered her mojo and urinating normally.