Frequent urination, straining to urinate, pain during urination, blood in urine, dribbling of urine, pus (cloudy) in urine etc. are often be signs of urinary tract infections or stones in the urinary tract. While most commonly these symptoms are indicative of UTI’s; it may also be indicative of serious underlying health issues or
complicated conditions, hence it is very important to consult your veterinarian immediately if your dog is showing any of these signs. Other symptoms include- licking around urinary opening, lethargy, fever, polydipsia, strong odour to urine, anorexia and weight loss.

Older female dogs, and dogs with diabetes mellitus, more commonly develop UTIs than the general population. Dogs who have bladder stones are also more prone to recurrent UTIs. In addition, lower urinary tract disease and UTIs are common in senior dogs, age seven and older, of all breeds and genders. 

Common differentials for UTIs include- bladder stones, incontinence, trauma, prostrate disease, congenital diseases, spinal cord diseases, cancers and systemic diseases like renal diseases, diabetes etc.

A complete blood profile work-up, which includes a complete blood count, a kidney function test and a liver function test. These tests help rule out or detect the presence of systemic diseases and also help us understand if there are any underlying infections.

A complete urine analysis which includes- urine specific gravity (indicator of how well your dog is concentrating his urine, may act as an early marker of renal disease, bladder infections, UTI’s etc), urine protein and creatinine ratio (early marker of renal function), pH (change in pH levels can indicate/predispose to infection or stones) presence of ketones (sometimes seen in cases of diabetes or body-wasting), glucose (sugar in the urine, usually a sign of diabetes), bilirubin (a breakdown product of blood), blood and protein. Besides this a microscopic study of the urine sediment should also be done for pus cells, blood, casts, crystals, parasites and white blood cells.

Radiographs of the abdomen will help understand if there are any anatomical abnormalities or presence of stones as the underlying cause for the UTI. Abdominal ultrasonography may also be conducted to check health of the bladder wall and other abdominal organs. 

Meanwhile antibiotic sensitivity tests maybe conducted on the urine of your pet so as to use a more appropriate antibiotic for your pet’s infection and thus avoiding unnecessary use of antibiotics.

Your vet may prescribe fluid therapy, antibiotics, pain medications, urine acidifiers or alkalinises. In dogs with stones or anatomical abnormalities surgical correction maybe recommended. Dogs with stones or recurrent UTI dietary changes and regular urine analysis maybe recommended. Diet plays an important role as well, as it influences the pH of the urine. A slightly acidic pH is preferred, as the bacteria develop more easily in an alkaline pH environment. 

Supplements that help maintain optimum urinary tract health

  1. Cranberries- naturally cranberries may help ward off UTI’s as they help in acidification of urine and thereby prevent multiplication of bacteria. Make sure to avoid processed cranberries, their seeds and juices as they will do more harm than good. Dog suitable cranberry supplements such as Cranbact (Vivaldis) are commercially available.
  2. Apple cider Vinegar- this too helps in urine acidification, but too much may lead to gastric irritation in your pooch. A few drops maybe added to your dogs water bowl.
  3. Vitamin C- this acts as not only a urine acidifier but also an anti-inflammatory agent and anti-oxidant. Ask your vet for the correct dosage of vitamin C for your pet, as it will vary according to their weight and even their diet.
  4. Water and fluids- provide your dog with ample of fresh filtered water and other fluids like chicken broth, buttermilk (without spices) so that the fluid intake is high and the bladder is constantly flushed and the urine remains sufficiently diluted. 
Ways to prevent UTIs

  1. Take your dog for frequent pee breaks through-out the day.
  2. Provide fresh drinking water that can be flavoured with chicken broth so your dog stays hydrated.
  3. Maintain a well-balanced dog friendly diet. Avoid feeding human foods.
  4. Probiotic supplements can build up the growth of healthy bacteria in a dog’s body.
  5. Routine grooming, especially around the urinary opening, and regular bathing can help prevent bacteria from entering the urinary system. Keep the area clean and free of debris, scratches, etc.