If you’ve ever had a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), you know how painful they can be. When humans get UTIs, we are able to recognize the pain and discomfort and we have the ability to vocalize our symptoms to a health professional. Dogs and cats are susceptible to UTIs as well, and although they feel the same pain and discomfort, they are not always able to tell us. They don’t have the luxury of seeking professional help on their own; it’s up to their owners to monitor their health.
Most UTIs are treatable, that’s why it’s important to recognize the symptoms and know when to seek veterinary care.
What causes a UTI?
Just like in humans, most UTIs are caused by bacteria that ascend from external sources through the urethra, the tube that helps the body transport urine out of the body, to the urinary bladder. UTIs are not uncommon in pets and are more frequently diagnosed in female dogs, specifically spayed female dogs, as their urethras are slightly shorter. Cats are also prone to UTIs, but the cause is different in most cats and usually occurs as a part of larger clinical problem called FLUTD (Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease).
Several contributing factors may contribute to UTI’s,such as infrequent bathroom breaks, lack of consistent availability of water, bladder stone and, in some cases, diabetes.
What are the symptoms of a UTI?
For dogs, a hallmark sign of a UTI involves changes in urination patterns. If your dog is asking to go outside more frequently, yet only urinates a small amount, or is having uncharacteristic accidents in the house, you may want to consider a trip to the vet. Another common UTI symptom in dogs is genital licking. Tenderness around the urethra causes increased need to lick and may induce discomfort with direct contact. If possible, collect a urine sample to take with you. If collected the night before, refrigerate it, but clearly label to avoid mistaken assumptions!
In cats, the most common symptoms are associated with the little box. A cat with a UTI will make frequent visits to the litter box, only passing a small amount of urine each time. In more advanced cases, some cats will howl while urinating to vocalize their discomfort. Sometimes blood can be found in the urine, so make sure to check carefully for discoloration while cleaning the litter box. Also look for indication of urination outside the little box as this can be a telltale sign for male cats that have a UTI.
What is the treatment?
If your peT starts showing signs of a potential UTI, you should schedule a trip to the vet immediately. If left untreated, what could have been a treatable infection may turn into a deadly one. The UTI test is a simple one: a veterinary professional will collect, or ask you to collect and bring with you, a sample of urine for a urinalysis. During this test, veterinarians looks for abnormalities in the urine such as blood, protein, sugar or white blood cells.
Should a UTI be diagnosed, the veterinarian will prescribe an antibiotic for your pet and most likely request another urine sample in a few days to make sure that the antibiotics were effective. While your dog is recovering, we suggest increased amounts of water and frequent bathroom walks.
If your pet is experiencing any of the common symptoms listed above, give us a call to inquire about our urinalysis test or ask our team of professionals any questions. When caught early and treated properly, UTI infections, and the discomfort associated with them, are usually quick and easy to treat.