UTI's, What Are They?
A UTI is an infection of the urinary tract, the most common cause being bacterial infections. For dogs, bacterial urinary tract infections are the most commonly occurring infectious disease. UTIs happen when normal skin and gastrointestinal (GI) tract flora make their way past the urinary tract’s defenses. The bacteria gather in the urinary tract, leading to an infection. E. coli is the most common bacterial cause of UTIs, but there are many other bacteria and even some fungi that can cause these infections. Typically, females are more prone to UTIs but male dogs can still get them. Dogs who suffer from Cushing's, have kidney disease, or are incontinent due to paralysis are more susceptible to contracting UTIs as well.
While a UTI is uncomfortable for both humans and dogs, for a paralyzed dog a UTI can go from an annoyance to an incredibly serious, life-threatening issue if left untreated.
Many times, a paralyzed dog will lose the muscle control of its bladder. The pets may become incontinent and it can be necessary to manually empty their bladder, this practice is called expressing the bladder. With expressing a dog's bladder, no matter how good you become at the practice, it is possible that some urine stays in the urinary tract. This is one of the main reasons disabled pups contract UTIs so often.
- 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 pretty 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 it is important to encourage them to drink and stay hydrated! As the drugs do their job it might seem like your dog is cured but it is extremely important to finish the full course of medication to fully flush out any bacteria and prevent another urinary tract infection from forming.
Prevention Tips for Urinary Tract Infections
- Express the bladder often!
- Add a cranberry and Mannose D supplement to your dog's diet, both of these supplements are able to 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.