Pacing around the yard, squatting or lifting their leg frequently only to strain when they try to pee, or even worse — yelping or crying when they try to go. If you've found yourself in this situation with your dog you may be familiar with that powerless, "what can I do?" feeling that comes with dealing with a urinary tract infection. While the symptoms of a urinary tract infection in dogs are sometimes hard to spot, noticing them and diagnosing the issue mean that relief is just around the corner, and can be found with a number of solutions, be they prescribed from your doctor, or natural, over-the-counter remedies.
What is a urinary tract infection?
If you've never had the displeasure of having urinary tract infection, consider yourself very lucky. If you have been unfortunate enough to experience one, you know that the symptoms—the ever-present urge to urinate, straining to urinate only to produce a few drops, dribbling urine, the inability to control when you urinate, and for some, a burning sensation when you do pee—are uncomfortable, at best. These symptoms are caused by bacteria that find their way inside the urethra and the bladder, according to VCA Hospitals. This bacteria can easily reproduce inside the bladder, which leads to an infection resulting in any or all of the irritating symptoms listed above. Sometimes, dogs can also urinate blood when they have a urinary tract infection (UTI) or even develop bladder stones, which can lead to additional health problems if left untreated.
Treatment and medication
If your dog has been diagnosed with a urinary tract infection, antimicrobial treatment is the most common course of action administered by most veterinarians. Common antimicrobials include amoxicillin, and cephalexin, and tetracycline, although several others may be prescribed, explains Merck Veterinary Manual. Offering your dog easy access to plenty of clean water will also help with the treatment of a urinary tract infection, and can also go a long way in preventing them in the future.
Spotting a urinary tract infection can be fairly easy if your dog is displaying symptoms, many UTIs in dogs are asymptomatic, which can make them hard to treat. If your dog is displaying any signs of trouble urinating, consult your veterinarian right away. If your dog is prone to urinary tract or bladder infections, you can ask your veterinarian to take a urine culture during your dog's routine visits to be safe. VCA Hospitals goes on to explain that older, diabetic female dogs are more prone than most to experience urinary tract infections, as are dogs who frequently have bladder stones.
If antibiotic treatments aren't something you wish to opt for, or if you need to keep your dog comfortable until you can get to a veterinarian for a diagnosis and traditional treatment, there are some natural remedies that can make her more comfortable. One tried and true home remedy for treating any type of bacterial infection is to use apple cider vinegar, which is naturally antibacterial. To use apple cider vinegar, simply add about a half a teaspoon to your dogs food or water every day for about three days, which may provide relief. Many people turn to pure cranberry juice (not cranberry juice cocktail, which is often loaded with added sugars) to improve their urinary tract health, and the same thing can be done with dogs, assuming your canine friend can stand the sour taste. Pure cranberry juice can be extremely bitter and sour, but if your dog doesn't mind the taste, a small bit in their food or water over time may help improve symptoms.
Finally, a urinary tract infection can't occur if bacteria isn't around to make its way into your dog's urethra, so good hygiene can go a long way in keeping your dog's urinary health on point. Regular baths and plenty of time to dry off, especially during the summer months when most dogs tend to be outside more, can keep your dog's at-risk areas clean.