Urinary tract infections (UTIs), also called “cystitis,” are caused by bacteria that settle in the kidneys, ureters, urinary bladder and/or urethra. UTIs are fairly common in companion dogs, especially in females. The bacteria enter the urinary tract from the outside environment or from the dog’s feces. They move up the urethra, which is the tube-like structure connecting the bladder to the outside world, and lodge in the bladder. They can travel from the bladder up the ureters into the kidneys, causing even more severe problems. If not treated, UTIs can be very serious and potentially fatal. Most dogs with UTIs feel an urgency to urinate, a burning sensation when urinating and severe accompanying pain. Some dogs have a high pain threshold and don’t show any outward signs of discomfort, which can make UTIs quite difficult to diagnose unless a urinalysis is done to identify bacteria in their urine.
Myths and Facts About Urinary Tract Infections
While both female and male dogs can get a urinary tract infection, it’s much more common in female dogs.
True: Females have shorter and wider urethras than males, which makes them more prone to develop UTI's.
The symptoms of urinary tract infections in dogs are so obvious, that if a dog doesn’t present any signs, then they certainly don’t have an issue.
False: A dog with a urinary tract infection will experience pain and discomfort. However, based on their pain threshold, a dog may not display or present any signs of a urinary tract infection.
Since urinary tract infections are not contagious between dogs, I shouldn’t worry about where my dog plays and with whom.
True: Urinary tract infections cannot be spread through contact with other dogs. However, it’s always important to understand your dog’s environment, and work with him or her to avoid eating strange things off the ground.