A Urinary Tract Infection often called a UTI is very common in both dogs and cats. They occur in all breeds and ages, male and female, neutered and non-neutered, indoor and outdoor, and in those pets fed all types of foods. Most urinary tract infections involve only the bladder, but sometimes the kidneys (pyelonephritis) are also involved.

The exact cause is usually unknown, but possible factors may include heredity (both congenital and developmental), diet, bacterial infection, injury, inflammation, diabetes, immune suppression, prolonged urine retention with formation of concentrated urine and stress. Infection may be caused by bacteria entering the bladder through the external urinary opening (urethra) or infection from other parts of the body, such as with infected teeth and gums, spreading to the bladder via the blood stream.

Early signs of trouble include irritability and restlessness, blood in urine, frequent trips to the litter box or outside, urinating small amounts, straining while in a squatting position (owner often thinks the pet is constipated), and urinating in the house. Pets with severe infections may exhibit vomiting or drooling, inappetence, excess drinking, diarrhea, crying with pain, lethargy, and a painful abdomen.

Urinary tract infections are usually diagnosed by urinalysis. Other diagnostics may include urinary culture and sensitivity, blood tests such as CBC/Chemistry and FeLV/FIV test (for cats), abdominal x-rays and ultrasound.

Treatment consists of appropriate antibiotic therapy. Length of time varies based upon severity of disease, response to antibiotics, age of pet, and other complicating disease conditions. Intact male dogs will usually require antibiotic therapy for 3-6 weeks because the bacteria can persist in the prostate gland. Therefore, neutering may help to prevent recurrence. If antibiotics are stopped too soon, the infection will recur.

It is very important that antibiotics not be discontinued until a follow up urinalysis reveals that the infection has completely cleared.

Urinary acidifiers may be added to treatment if the pH of the urine is too high (basic pH). Pets with a first time urinary tract infection may not need dietary modification. However, dietary modification is strongly recommended for those pets with recurrent infections.

Make sure that your pet has frequent opportunities to urinate throughout the day. Allow access to fresh water at all times.

Notify the hospital if any of the following occur:

  • Straining to urinate or your pet cannot urinate
  • Vomiting, diarrhea, or refusal to eat
  • Crying when urinates
  • Depression
  • Continued increased frequency of urination