Urinary problems in dogs can be frustrating for owners and uncomfortable and stressful for dogs. There are many possible causes for urinary issues and determining the cause is crucial in treating the problem. Possible causes of urinary problems include:
- Urinary tract infection/cystitis
- Bladder stones and/or crystals
- Diabetes mellitus
- Kidney problems
- Urinary incontinence
- Behavior issue/break in house training
- Bladder cancer
- Prostate disease
- Spinal cord problems
- Cushing’s disease
Signs of bladder problems can include: urinary accidents, blood in urine or cloudy urine, strong smelling urine, increased licking of genital area, frequent squatting/frequent urination, acting uncomfortable or whimpering when urinating or attempting to urinate, drinking and urinating more than normal.
While it can be tempting to just request antibiotics, assuming a bladder infection is the cause, an exam is crucial to find the root cause and treat the issue correctly.
An initial exam will include taking a complete history and review of symptoms. The doctor will palpate the abdomen to check how full the bladder is and check for discomfort. Gum color, hydration and temperature will be checked along with the genital area. A fresh urine sample will be obtained and a urinalysis will be performed to check for: white blood cells, red blood cells, pH, ketones, glucose, bilirubin, protein, bacteria and urinary crystals.
Depending on the results of the urinalysis, a urine culture/sensitivity may be indicated (if there is an infection this can help determine the most effective antibiotic for the bacteria present). Blood work may be indicated if there are signs of glucose in the urine or signs of kidney problems. If urinary crystals are seen, radiographs to look for bladder stones may be recommended.
If no medical problems are found, the possibility of a behavior issue (stress, separation anxiety or break in house training) or urinary incontinence will be considered. Treatment for a behavior issue or incontinence will be much different than for other medical problems so it is crucial to rule out other issues first.
Treatment for urinary issues will depend on the root cause. This may include antibiotics, prescription diets, treatment for diabetes or kidney problems, anti anxiety meds/behavior modification/house training, surgery (if bladder stones or prostate problems) or treatment for cushing’s disease.
Urinary problems are typically easier and less expensive to treat if caught early. Assuming urinary accidents are a behavior issue without ruling out a medical cause can delay treatment and cause unnecessary stress and discomfort for the dog and the owner. Untreated bladder issues that have a medical cause can turn into a behavior problem/habit if not addressed promptly or correctly.
It is important to call for an exam appointment at the first sign of urinary issues. A fresh urine sample will be needed to run a urinalysis. It is often best for us to collect this in clinic to avoid contamination or the development of crystals due to the urine sitting too long. Making sure your dog does not have the opportunity to urinate for awhile prior to your appointment is very helpful so we can successfully collect the needed sample.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please contact us for guidance. We are here to help and can guide you in the best course of action to help your pet as quickly and efficiently as possible.