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Just like humans, dogs can also get urinary tract infections. Urinary tract infections can be quite painful for your pup and require proper treatment involving antibiotics. Antibiotics are essential to prevent the growth of urinary tract bacteria and to stop them from causing more harm, but UTI medication should only be administered after getting appropriate diagnosis from a veterinarian.

A urinary tract infection in a dog can be excruciating for the canine and frustrating for the owner as well. That’s why it’s important to keep an eye on your dog’s health so you can catch a UTI as early on as possible. To learn more about urinary tract infections in dogs and what the symptoms look like, continue reading.

What Are Urinary Tract Infections In Dogs? 

Urinary tract infection in dogs — also known as UTI — is a condition that's caused by bacteria in the urinary tract, which is made up of the urethra and the bladder. UTIs are one of the most common medical conditions in dogs, so keeping an eye out for symptoms and knowing how to treat urinary tract infection in dogs is important. While a urinary tract infection in a dog isn't typically a medical emergency, UTI complications can lead to serious medical issues. If you notice your dog urinating frequently or showing other potential signs of a UTI, you should visit a vet as soon as you get a chance.

Symptoms of urinary tract infections in dogs

Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infections In Dogs

As a pet parent, it's your job to recognize the symptoms of urinary tract infections in dogs, so you know when something's wrong with your pup. The sooner you recognize symptoms, the earlier you can get a prescription for antibiotics for your dog. Here are some of the symptoms of urinary tract infections in dogs you should look out for:

  • Frequent urination: Frequent urination — especially in small amounts — is one of the most common symptoms of UTIs in dogs. If your dog is urinating more than usual for no apparent reason, they may have a UTI.
  • Difficulty urinating: Urinating shouldn't cause your dog any pain, but that's not the case with a UTI. UTIs can cause pain while urinating that makes your dog strain or even whimper while urinating. If your dog is having trouble urinating, that's a good sign they have a UTI or a similar problem.
  • Blood in urine: Urine should be somewhere between clear and yellow in color, so keep an eye out for cloudy or bloody urine. If you notice blood in your dog's urine, you should take them to the vet for a diagnosis as soon as possible. Blood in urine can also be caused by more serious medical conditions.
  • Increased thirst: Because dogs who have UTIs typically urinate more often, they may also drink more water. Consider calling your vet if your dog is drinking an unusual amount of water.
  • Foul-smelling urine: Urine always smells bad, but unusually bad-smelling urine is a cause for concern. Your dog's urine may smell differently because of the bacteria in their urinary tract, so you should visit a vet if your dog's urine smells different.
  • Frequently wanting to go outside: With frequent urination comes frequent requests to be let out. If your dog wants to go outside every few minutes, they could have a UTI.
  • Accidents: Adult dogs typically don't urinate inside, so indoor accidents could be a warning sign that your dog can't control their bladder due to a UTI.

Causes of Urinary Tract Infections in Dogs

In many cases, urinary tract infections in dogs occur because of bacteria getting into the urinary tract, which may come from the skin or the GI tract. These bacteria can enter your dog's urinary tract if feces gets around the area of the urethral opening, or if your dog gets into something unsanitary. Regular bathing can help prevent bacteria from entering the urinary tract, which is why it’s so important to know how to bathe your dog.

There are several other potential causes of UTIs in dogs, such as:

  • Stones or crystals in the urinary tract system
  • Infection
  • Inflammation
  • Prostate disease
  • Cancer
  • Consuming toxic substances
  • Congenital abnormalities
  • Spinal cord injuries or abnormalities
  • Kidney or bladder disease
  • Diabetes

You can also help prevent UTIs and keep your dog healthy by making sure they're drinking enough water. Dehydration can lead to numerous health issues in dogs, including UTIs. Proper hydration is especially important during the summer, or if you live in an especially hot climate. Your dog may also need more water based on their activity level. You can talk to your vet to learn more about how much water your dog should be drinking each day.

Female dogs are more likely to develop UTIS than male dogs and UTIs are more common in older dogs

Dogs That Are Prone to UTIs

It's also your job as a pet parent to make sure your dog isn't at high risk for UTIs. For example, dehydration in dogs can increase their risk of UTI, so you should make sure your dog is drinking plenty of water. There are also certain medical conditions and other factors that can increase your dog's risk of getting a UTI. Female dogs are more likely to develop a UTI than male dogs, and UTIs are also more common in older dogs.

Numerous health problems can also increase the risk of urinary tract infection in dogs. Some diseases that increase dogs' UTI risk include kidney disease, diabetes, and Cushing's disease.

Any dog breed can develop a urinary tract infection. However, certain dog breeds, such as Bichon Frise, Shih Tzu, and Yorkshie Terriers, are particularly predisposed to urinary tract stones, which is a similar condition. Dogs who suffer from bladder stones are also more likely to develop urinary tract infections. In this case, the bladder stones must be removed completely from the dog in order to fix their bladder health.

How Vets Diagnose UTIs in Dogs

Different methods are available for collecting urine samples to diagnose urinary tract infections. Vets diagnose this condition through a method called cystocentesis, in which they slide the needle in the bladder of a dog, look at the ultrasound and pull back the urine to get a sample.

Once the sample is collected, the veterinarian runs it through a urinalysis machine which gives a complete urine health report. It indicates the presence of impurities in the sample like glucose, protein, bacteria, blood, etc.

Other than impure substances, it can also indicate the pH and specific gravity (which measures a kidney's ability of concentration). If there is a urinary tract infection, the vet can easily see the presence of bacteria through urinalysis.

A high level of blood, protein, and white blood cells in the urine and a low specific gravity can also indicate urinary tract infections in dogs. However, this doesn't tell the vet what kind of bacteria is infecting the bladder, so they also usually test for urine culture. This helps determine the right antibiotic for the treatment of the infection.

Treatment for UTIs in Dogs

The most common treatment for urinary tract infections in dogs is antibiotics. Your vet will prescribe a round of antibiotics, and they may or may not prescribe pain medication alongside those antibiotics. You should also make sure your dog is drinking plenty of water to help flush out their system and stay hydrated. After the round of antibiotics is finished, your vet may recommend that you come in for a follow-up appointment. If you notice symptoms such as dog seizures, vomiting, or diarrhea after they take the antibiotics, call your vet immediately.

You can ask your vet for additional tips on how to treat urinary tract infection in dogs. Some vets may recommend giving your dog probiotics or supplements to prevent a urinary tract infection from occurring again in the future. These will change the pH of your dog’s urine and make it harder for an infection to form. However, you should never administer your dog any medication without consulting your vet first.

The most common antibiotics for urinary tract infections in dogs

What Antibiotic is Best for a Dog UTI?

In some cases, your vet will recommend an antibiotic to treat your dog’s UTI. The antibiotic that your vet recommends will depend on the severity of the condition and what kind of UTI they have, such as a complicated UTI or recurrent UTI.

Generally speaking, amoxicillin, Clavamox, enrofloxacin, and trimethoprim sulfa are the most common antibiotics for urinary tract infections in dogs. These antibiotics typically take 48-72 hours to show their results. 

Most veterinarians will recommend your dog to take them for at least 1 to 3 weeks, or sometimes up to 4 weeks. If your dog is suffering from a complicated UTI, your vet may recommend them taking the antibiotic for up to 8 weeks. When you schedule an appointment for treatment of a urinary tract infection in your dog, your vet will decide which antibiotic is best for your dog and how long they should take them for.

Dog getting fed medicine out of a dropper

Final Notes

Fortunately, urinary tract infections in dogs are a curable health condition, but they can be very painful for your pup. But the best way to ensure your dog doesn’t have to suffer from UTIs in the first place is by taking care of their hygiene, making sure they’re hydrated, and bringing them to use the bathroom often. 

If you suspect your dog has a UTI, you should contact a vet immediately so you can get a proper diagnosis and treatment. If you need help getting in contact with a vet, you can use Dutch.

Dutch is a reliable pet telehealth service that can help you take care of your dog’s health. Through Dutch, you can get connected to a Dutch-affiliated vet and go over possible treatment methods for various infections and health conditions. So whether your dog is suffering from a urinary tract infection or experiencing signs of anxiety, you can get the help you need right when you need it. Use Dutch today and see how we can help you improve your beloved pet’s wellbeing.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Dutch?

Dutch is an online veterinary pet telehealth service, created by pet parents and board-certified veterinary specialists. We use a science-backed approach to provide pets relief for their everyday physical and behavioral health issues. Dutch connects you with licensed veterinarians over video chat and messaging to help you get care for your dog or cat quickly wherever you are — without the stress or expense of a vet visit. We also partner with pharmacies who can deliver prescription medication (in applicable states only) and over-the-counter treatments directly to your door. Dutch isn’t a veterinary practice or pharmacy, but a company that helps facilitate these services for pet parents to make veterinary care more accessible to all.

What is a visit with Dutch like?

When booking a video call with a vet, you'll be asked a few questions about your pet’s health issue. Depending on the issue, you may also be asked to fill out a longer questionnaire about their symptoms and share photographs of them so our veterinarians can better understand what’s going on. You’ll then pick an appointment time that works best for you.

During your video call, one of our licensed veterinarians will talk to you about the symptoms your pet is experiencing, ask you questions, review your pet’s medical history if you’ve provided it, and answer any questions you have. The vet will ask to see your pet and their environment. And they may ask you to perform some simple checks on them if needed.

After your video call, the vet will send you a message with a custom treatment plan to help your pet feel better, including a link to buy any recommended prescription or over-the-counter medications. Place your order and we’ll ship it free.

How much will it cost for Dutch to treat my pet?

The Dutch membership starts at $15/mo for unlimited access to the vet. No more long waits for appointments or surprise bills.

In addition to the base membership plan, our veterinarians may also recommend additional medication (Rx and/or OTC) that you will have the option of adding to your plan at an additional cost.