How to Know If Your Dog Has a Urinary Tract Infection

Urinary tract infections in dogs are quite common, but the symptoms displayed can be confusing. UTI's can mimic other conditions -- such as urinary tract cancer or stones -- and some blockages and infections can become life-threatening if they aren't identified and remedied swiftly. The keys are observing your dog's patterns closely and seeking your vet's intervention quickly, if need be.

Know UTI's and the risk factors. There are two types: upper and lower. An infection of the kidneys is upper, while the lower infection impacts the bladder and urethra. It can also impact multiple sites and can present itself more commonly in certain breeds, including pugs, beagles and dachsunds.

Monitor your dog's drinking habits. Has your pooch been lapping up the water like never before? That could be a sign of a UTI, which can dehydrate a dog -- prompting constant thirst.

Watch for out-of-the-norm bathroom behaviors. If your dog appears to be straining when it urinates or shows signs of distress, such as whimpering or crying, it very well may have a UTI. Another surefire sign may be changes in patterns, such as your dog urinating or leaking in unusual places -- such as inside the house.

Use your senses. Changes to the look of the urine are strong indicators of UTI or other serious conditions. The urine may look cloudy, even bloody. Use your nose, too -- if the urine smells more pungent than usual, especially when combined with these anomalies in appearance, it may be the time to see your vet.

Aid in the diagnosis. Help your vet do his or her job. If there is a complete absence of urine, don't wait. This is serious. Blockages can be deadly. It's also a good idea to collect a sample of the dog's urine and take it with you to the vet. The sample will be analyzed to see if it's a UTI or something else -- like bladder stones or urinary tract cancers.