UTIs, What Are They?
Dogs can get Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs). A UTI is an infection of the urinary tract, the most common cause being bacterial infections. Bacterial urinary tract infections are the most common infectious disease for dogs. A UTI occurs when normal skin and gastrointestinal (GI) tract flora make their way past the urinary tract’s defenses. As a result, the bacteria gather in the urinary tract, leading to an infection. E. coli is the most common bacterial cause of UTIs, but many other bacteria and even some fungi can cause these infections. Typically, females are more prone to UTIs, but male dogs can still get them. In addition, dogs who suffer from Cushing’s, have kidney disease or are incontinent due to paralysis are more susceptible to contracting UTIs.
Paralyzed Pets and UTIs
While a UTI is uncomfortable for both humans and dogs, for a paralyzed dog, a UTI can go from an annoyance to a severe, life-threatening issue if left untreated.
Often, a paralyzed dog will lose the muscle control of its bladder. As a result, the pets may become incontinent, and it can be necessary to empty their bladder manually. This practice is called expressing the bladder. Unfortunately, with expressing a dog’s bladder, no matter how good you become at the practice, some urine may stay in the urinary tract. Therefore, it’s critical that you completely empty the bladder when you express a paralyzed dog’s bladder. This is one of the main reasons disabled pups contract UTIs so often.
Sometimes your dog may not show any symptoms at all but the most common signs of a UTI are:
- Bloody and/or cloudy urine
- Strong order in the urine
- Straining or whimpering during urination
- Accidents in the house
- Needing to be let outside more frequently
- Licking around the urinary opening
As awful and annoying as they may be, treating a UTI is a simple process. After your Vet does an exam, bloodwork, and a urine sample to confirm the diagnosis, a round of antibiotics will be prescribed. While your dog is on antibiotics, encouraging them to drink and stay hydrated is essential! As the drugs do their job, it might seem like your dog is cured. Still, it is essential to finish the entire course of medication to thoroughly flush out any bacteria and prevent another urinary tract infection from forming.
Prevention Tips for Urinary Tract Infections
Best practices to prevent UTIs are:
- Express the bladder often (and fully).
- Add cranberry and Mannose D supplement to your dog’s diet. Both of these supplements can reduce the bacteria’s ability to stay in the bladder and effectively knock out a UTI before it begins!
- Probiotics are another great way to promote bladder health. While there isn’t as much concrete evidence to support the connection
- Cleanliness! Make sure the area around the urethra is kept clean, a quick swipe of a baby wipe after expressing your pup’s bladder or if they’ve been rolling around in the mud or swimming will go a long way in preventing infections.