A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a common medical issue that tends to affect female dogs more than males. This type of infection is caused by different types of bacteria or other harmful microorganisms. It results in pain and discomfort for your canine companion, especially when she urinates. A canine UTI requires a proper veterinary diagnosis and treatment. Without veterinary care, the infection could spread. It could even become fatal.
When bacteria from your pup's genital area, usually from her environment or from her feces, enter her urinary tract, they can cause an infection. The most common area infected is the lower urinary tract, including the bladder and urethra. These infections are primarily caused by the Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus and Proteus species of bacteria, which are responsible for about half of all cases, according to petMD. Other, less common, types of bacteria can also cause a UTI, as can different types of fungi, viruses, mycoplasma, algae and even parasitic worms, warns PetWave. Most of these harmful organisms enter through your pup's urethra and travel into her bladder.
While urinary tract infections can occur in healthy dogs, they tend to affect older dogs and those with compromised immune systems. Medical conditions such as diabetes, Cushing's disease and hypothyroidism can compromise Fidelis' immune system, predisposing her to developing an infection such as a UTI, according to the VetStreet website. Female dogs are more prone to UTIs because they have shorter, wider urethras than males, making it easier for microorganisms to enter their urinary tracts. Pups with weak urinary sphincters, usually caused by spaying, and those with bladders stones or tumors are also more likely to develop UTIs.
A dog suffering from a UTI typically urinates more than usual; a perfectly house-trained pooch may start having accidents inside the home. You might notice that your pup strains to urinate or appears to be in pain when she does urinate. Her urine may be bloody or especially smelly; she may appear lethargic and could have a fever. She may lose her appetite, vomit, lose weight, lick at her genital area frequently or drink more water than usual, the ASPCA says.
Diagnosis and Treatment
To properly diagnose a UTI, bring your pup to the vet, who will perform a urinalysis and a urine culture to determine whether she has a UTI and what types of microorganisms are causing it. Once your vet knows a cause, he'll likely prescribe your pup some medication to get rid of the pesky organisms causing the infection. Most commonly, bacteria are to blame, so he'll likely prescribe some oral antibiotics to take for a period of time, usually two weeks or more. Give your pup the entire course of antibiotics, otherwise the bacteria can become antibiotic-resistant and the infections could become chronic, warns Cesar's Way. Follow up with your vet to ensure that the infection is completely gone and no further treatment is necessary.
By Susan Paretts
About the Author
Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, crafts, television, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared in "The Southern California Anthology" and on Epinions. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.