Idiopathic Cystitis in a Canine

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Cystitis is an inflammation of the bladder and the walls of the bladder. Typically, some sort of bacterial or viral infection causes cystitis. Idiopathic cystitis, also known as interstitial or sterile cystitis, is different in that the underlying cause is not an infection. While symptoms are similar for both forms of cystitis, treatment varies based on the underlying cause.

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In the case of idiopathic cystitis, bacteria or viruses are not the underlying cause of the inflammation. Common causes include pelvic injuries, chronic kidney conditions, chronic urinary tract infections, bladder or kidney stones, tumors, cysts or hereditary urinary tract defects. Certain drugs also can contribute to idiopathic cystitis. Idiopathic cystitis is often a symptom of other conditions, such as diabetes mellitus, Cushing's and kidney disease.



Symptoms of cystitis include increased thirst, increased attempts to urinate, blood or mucus in the urine, weakness and lethargy. You may notice your dog is in pain when she tries to urinate. She may squat for a long period only to produce a small amount of urine. Depending on the cause, you may notice a bloated appearance or tenderness when you touch her stomach. Loss of appetite, weight loss and vomiting also may occur.



When diagnosing cystitis, your veterinarian will first rule out a bacterial or viral infection as the cause. Once an infection has been ruled out, X-rays and ultrasounds may be necessary to show possible tumors, cysts or stones. Stomach palpitation by the vet is another way of locating large tumors or cysts.


Treatment of idiopathic cystitis depends on the cause of the condition. Special diets are often enough to dissolve small stones and treat the condition. In the cases of larger stones, tumors, cysts or polyps, surgery may be necessary. Pain and anti-inflammatory medications help reduce symptoms and increase urine output. Increasing moisture in the diet, through additional water or moist food, is often recommended in order to help flush out the urinary system. In most cases, treatment is successful however; malignant bladder tumors are difficult to treat.


By Deborah Lundin

VetInfo: Interstitial Cystitis in Dogs
MyPetED: What is Cystitis, or Dog Bladder Infection?
Whitney Veterinary Hospital: Cystitis in Dogs and Cats

About the Author
Deborah Lundin is a professional writer with more than 20 years of experience in the medical field and as a small business owner. She studied medical science and sociology at Northern Illinois University. Her passions and interests include fitness, health, healthy eating, children and pets.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.