The urinary system includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra and has several important functions. It rids a dog’s body of waste products created when food is transformed into energy and it maintains the correct balance of water and electrolytes. It also produces erythropoietin and renin, hormones that help maintain healthy blood pressure, produce blood cells, process vitamin D, and absorb salt correctly.
Most urinary tract infections are caused by bacteria, that enter the body through the urethra and moves into the bladder and occasionally into the kidneys. A urinary tract infection can prevent the bladder from emptying correctly or may even cause a fatal blockage of the urethra, the tube connecting the bladder to the outside of the body. In addition to urinary flow, sugar in the urine (a sign of diabetes), age, and a poor immune system all contribute to infection. Left untreated, it can lead to kidney failure. Female dogs tend to be more prone to urinary tract infections while uncastrated older male dogs tend to get bacterial infections of the prostate.
Bacterial cystitis is the inflammation and infection of the bladder due to bacteria. Infections are common in older dogs with a poor immune system. Symptoms include frequent or difficult urination, urinating in inappropriate places, and blood in the urine. Dogs with adrenal dysfunction (overproduction of the adrenal gland hormones) and those on long-term steroids seem to be more disposed to infection.
Kidney Infections (Pyelonephritis)
This is a bacterial infection that affects the kidneys. The most common causes are stones in the kidney or ureter, which inhabit proper urine flow. This condition can affect very young and very old dogs with a poor immune system or those with kidneys unable to balance the amount of water in the urine. Signs of a kidney infection include fever, pain in the area around the kidneys, vomiting, and excessive thirst and urination.
Symptoms May Include
- painful urination
- inability to urinate or only passing a small amount of urine
- bloody or cloudy urine
- loss of bladder control or dribbling of urine
- increased volume and/or frequency of urination
- straining and/or crying out in pain when passing urine
- soiling in inappropriate places
- constant licking of urinary opening
- strong odor to the urine
- changes in appetite
- weight loss
- severe back pain
- increased water consumption
Please see your veterinarian for immediate medical attention, especially if your dog is straining to urinate or crying out in pain. This could be a medical emergency!