Effects of Urinary Tract Infection – From the Dog’s Point of View
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common in companion canines, especially in females. These infections are uncomfortable at a minimum and can become extremely painful. Affected animal always suffer varying degrees of discomfort, up to and including a feeling of urgency to urinate, a burning sensation when urinating and severe accompanying pain. However, some dogs have a high pain threshold and will not show any outward signs of discomfort. This makes urinary tract infections sometimes hard to diagnose, because they often are only detected when the dog is brought to the clinic for some other reason.
Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infection – What the Owner Sees
When a dog does show observable signs of having a urinary tract infection, its owner may notice one or more of the following:
- Frequent urination (pollakiuria)
- Formation and passage of a large volume of urine (polyuria)
- Increased thirst/water intake (polydipsia)
- Straining to urinate and excessive urgency to urinate (stranguria)
- Difficulty urinating (dysuria)
- Inappropriate urination (peeing in places that are not customary, such as in the house, car or elsewhere)
- Cloudy urine
- Smelly urine
- Blood in the urine (hematuria)
- Lethargy; listlessness
- Loss of appetite (inappetence; anorexia)
- Fever (pyrexia)
- Inflammation and irritation around the external genitalia
- Licking of the vulva or penis
- Vaginal discharge
One of the most important things to remember about canine urinary tract infections is that regardless of the underlying cause, affected dogs may not show any clinical signs. Even uncomplicated asymptomatic UTIs, if left untreated, can lead to much more serious conditions, including kidney infections and septicemia, which is a serious infection of the blood.
Dogs at Increased Risk
Hard to prevent, difficult to detect and dangerous if not treated, urinary tract infections can affect dogs of all ages and breeds. Females have shorter and wider urethras than males, which makes them more likely to develop UTIs. Dogs with underlying urinary tract disorders, such as stones (uroliths; calculi), anatomical abnormalities or cancer (neoplasia), are predisposed to developing urinary tract infections. Dogs with diseases that cause them to produce dilute urine, such as diabetes mellitus and hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s Disease), are also at increased risk for developing urinary tract infections. Long-term administration of corticosteroids or other immunosuppressive drugs, and systemic diseases that suppress the immune system, can also increase a dog’s chances of developing urinary tract infections.
Because so many dogs with UTIs show no symptoms, it is extremely important for dogs to have regular veterinary examinations, including routine blood and urine tests, so that asymptomatic urinary tract infections can be detected. Chronic UTIs can damage the lining and deeper tissues of the urinary tract and will become much more difficult to treat successfully with the passage of time.