Dogs can suffer from urinary tract problems. Repeated urination of too little amount is often the first symptom, which can lead to serious health problems if left untreated.
If you want to know more about this very common problem in dogs, we explain what its symptoms are and how to treat it.
Index of contents
- 1 What is cystitis?
- 2 Canine cystitis symptoms
- 3 How is cystitis diagnosed in a dog?
- 4 The urine strip and culture
- 5 Treatment of cystitis in dogs
- 6 Cystitis and urinary stones
What is cystitis?
Cystitis is a bacterial bladder infection. In both male and female dogs, they are usually preceded by an infection in the urethra that manages to ascend to the bladder.
In addition, there are other causes that predispose to suffering this infection such as advanced age, diabetes, long-term corticosteroid treatments or, in the case of males, prostatitis, that is, inflammation of the prostate.
Canine cystitis symptoms
The main sign that will make us suspect that our dog is suffering from cystitis is an increase in the times you will need to urinate. In addition, the dog feels discomfort every time he does it and emits very small amounts, sometimes just drops.
The appearance of urine may also become cloudy, smell differently than usual, or even appear bloody, known as hematuria. Some females with cystitis will also have a vaginal discharge. It is normal for animals to lick their genitals in an attempt to relieve discomfort.
How is cystitis diagnosed in a dog?
If our dog urinates frequently and seems bothered, the diagnosis is probably cystitis but, to confirm it, we should take a urine sample. For this we can use a plastic cup with a lid for sale in pharmacies, which are also used in human medicine.
It is important that we do the collection with one of these containers because this way we make sure that it is completely clean. If we use any jar or glass that we have at home we run the risk that it already contains bacteria. This would contaminate our urine and we could not know if the infection corresponds to the dog or to the environment.
The collection in a male dog can be simple because, when raising the paw, it leaves enough space so that we are able to introduce the glass to catch the urine stream. In females, when urinating in a crouch, it will be more difficult to collect a sample.
In these cases we can try to urinate on an almost flat container, similar to a litter box for cats. Then we would empty it into the glass or collect it in a syringe. If we do not get the sample, the vet can take it directly from the bladder. It is the procedure called cystacentesis.
If we collect urine at home, we must quickly move it to the clinic for examination. If we are going to take a few hours to carry it, we have to keep it refrigerated inside the refrigerator. If a long time elapses or the conservation is inadequate, the sample will not work.
The urine strip and culture
The vet can do a urine strip. This test will give us information about the presence of bacteria or blood. A positive result accompanied by concordant symptoms guides us towards a diagnosis of cystitis, although it is not the most specific test.
We have already explained that if the sample is contaminated, the result can be misleading. For an unequivocal diagnosis, the sample should be sent taken to a laboratory to perform a culture. In this way we would know exactly which bacteria are behind the infection, if any.
Treatment of cystitis in dogs
It is very important that if we see that our dog urinates with an unusual frequency and is upset, we go to the vet without losing time. If a bladder infection is not treated, bacteria can spread to the kidney, affecting it as well. These infections can end up causing a acute or chronic kidney failure.
To cure cystitis the vet will prescribe us an antibiotic. If we have done a urine culture we will know exactly which is going to be more effective against the bacteria that are causing the infection in our dog.
The treatments usually last for weeks and it is important that we follow them to the end, even if the dog has stopped showing symptoms of infection. After the treatment is finished we can analyze the urine again to make sure that the healing is complete.
We must know that infections can be recurrent. If our dog has finished treatment and soon shows symptoms of cystitis again, we will need a more complete veterinary study. For example, stones in the bladder may explain recurrent cystitis.
If we have not done a culture so far, with a second infection we will have to request it. Antibiotics prescribed by the vet will be based on their results. Some dogs may have chronic cystitis that will require long-term drug administration.
Cystitis and urinary stones
The calculations, colloquially called stones, are mineral formations that are deposited in the urinary tract by various factors. The smallest can be removed as grit with urine. Instead, the largest calculations they will not be able to get out and will even cause obstructions full or partial.
When a dog has cystitis, the groups formed by the bacteria will serve as a support for the minerals to precipitate on them, generally struvite. The stones end up causing discomfort in urination and blood in the urine.
Its elimination goes through treating cystitis, if it exists, and offering the dog a specific diet that helps dissolve these stones, for which it is essential to modify the pH of the urine, key to its formation. If the stones are causing an obstruction or are not susceptible to dissolution, surgery will be needed.