A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a fairly common and painful condition in dogs which, if left untreated, can cause severe damage to the kidneys and other parts of the urinary tract. In complicated cases, UTIs can cause life-threatening illness throughout a dog’s body. The goals of treating urinary tract infections in dogs are to eliminate the infection, restore the dog’s comfort and resolve or at least manage any identifiable predisposing disorders or diseases.
Treatment Options for Urinary Tract Infection in Dogs
Dogs diagnosed with a urinary tract infection usually are first treated with a broad spectrum antibiotic on an empirical basis, even before their urine is cultured. The attending veterinarian will select one or a combination of several antibiotics, depending upon the results of the initial urinalysis and blood tests. The antibiotics must have good penetration and distribution into the urine. It is extremely important for owners to administer the antibiotics exactly as instructed by the veterinarian, and for the full treatment course.
If the infection persists, or if it resolves but recurs after a complete course of antibiotics, further diagnostic evaluations will be necessary. The veterinarian will take another urine sample, ideally by a procedure called a cystocentesis, which involves taking a sterile urine sample through a needle inserted through the belly wall directly into the urinary bladder. The urine sample will be submitted to a laboratory for culture and sensitivity, to identify the precise microorganisms that are causing the infection. Any predisposing conditions, such as bladder or kidney stones (also called “uroliths” or “calculi”), or immunosuppression from whatever cause, will also be identified and addressed. The attending veterinarian may recommend taking abdominal radiographs (X-rays of the belly), and/or performing an abdominal ultrasound. The results of the initial blood and urine tests, combined with the results from the urine culture, abdominal radiographs, abdominal ultrasound and appropriate antibiotic selection and administration, should be sufficient to identify and resolve recurrent or persistent urinary tract infections in companion dogs.
The prognosis for dogs with uncomplicated bacterial urinary tract infections is excellent. Primary fungal infections in the urinary tract, on the other hand, can be extremely difficult to treat, although they are much less common than bacterial infections. The prognosis for dogs with complicated UTIs is quite variable and depends upon accurate identification of the precise organism or organisms that have caused the infection, and the resolution of any predisposing or contributing disorder or disease.