How to Prevent Your Dog from Getting a UTI

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Anyone who has suffered from cystitis will be all too excruciatingly aware of how uncomfortable the condition is. It leaves you constantly seeking the nearest restroom, while passing water is like torture with hot needles.

The word cystitis means an inflammation of the bladder wall, and when the cause is a bacterial infection this is known as a urinary tract infection (UTI). But this isn't just a human problem because dogs, especially female ones, can and do suffer from UTIs.

Signs your dog has a UTI include:

  • Urinary accidents in the house

  • Blood in the urine

  • An urgent need to toilet

  • Only passing a few drops of urine at a time

  • Discomfort when urinating

Treatment includes antibiotics and anti-inflammatories, but as with so many conditions, prevention is better than cure.

Pawsonal Hygiene

Female anatomy provides a superhighway for bugs from the outside world to work their way up into the bladder. Think about it; every time the girl dog sits down her vulva contacts the ground. When she sits in mud that is rich in bacteria, this gives them the opportunity to enter her body. Also, female dogs have a relatively short urethra (the tube connecting the vagina to the bladder) meaning the bacteria don't have to travel far to set up infection.

  • A Bikini Wax Dog Style: For long-haired dogs, keep the feathering around the hind quarters clipped short. This prevents the fur around the vulva becoming heavily soiled.

  • Wash and Wipe: Inspect her nether regions after each walk. If she's dirty, then give her rear a quick blanket bath, using a clean face cloth and warm water, so the contamination and bacteria are washed away.

  • Bathe as Necessary: Keep her coat clean, so bathe her once her fur becomes generally dirty

Increase Water In and Water Out

In the same way a stagnant pool will fester and become a breeding ground for mosquito larvae or other undesirables, so a dog that holds her urine for too long is at greater risk of UTIs.

  • Plenty of toilet opportunities: Offer your girl regular toilet trips, so that she empties her bladder frequently. While an adult dog can hold on overnight, this doesn't mean it's desirable to do so during the day as well. Bacteria left in contact with the bladder wall will cause inflammation, whereas regular voiding gets rid of the problem.

  • Lots of Drinking Water: What goes in must come out, and drinking flushes out the bladder. It also promotes an increased need to urinate, which in turn voids bacteria from the bladder.

  • Feed Canned Food: Moist food has a higher water content, which promotes good urinary health.

Urinary Health Products

Certain nutraceutical products can promote a healthier urinary tract, which is better able to resist infection.

  • Prescription Diets: Certain foods are formulated for dogs prone to bladder problems. These foods aim for the sweet-spot urinary pH of 6.2 to 6.4, which is optimal for bladder health. They are also low in minerals, which chafe the lining of the bladder or cause bladder stones, which in turn predispose to UTIs

  • Urinary Acidifiers: These include cranberry extract, vitamin C, methionine supplements, and D-mannose. An acid urine is a natural disinfectant and more hostile to bacteria. However, you can do more harm than good, as a low pH can favor bladder stones, so always talk to your vet first and have a sample of the dog's urine analyzed before adding in an acidifier.

  • Promote Bladder Health: Supplements such as marshmallow root, glucosamine, and D-mannose help form a protective mucus layer over the bladder wall to shield it from bacterial toxins.

 

Preventing UTIs makes a world of difference to your dog. She will be more comfortable and you'll save a heap on expensive vet trips and antibiotics. Remember, vets often need to investigate and confirm an infection is present before prescribing antibiotics, which all adds to the cost.

Ultimately, we should be avoiding antibiotic use where possible in order to save them for human use, so anything that reduces need for their use has to be good. The steps above are simple, easy, and soon become of your daily routine. Minimal effort for maximum gain has to be worth giving a go!