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Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) in Dogs    

Dr. Al Townshend

Infection within the canine urinary tract is painful and can be life-threatening. It can cause a well-trained to urinate all around the home. Recognizing the problem and initiating proper treatment is essential for the pet’s health and the home’s sanctity.


What are the Causes of a UTI?

Most UTIs occur when bacteria enter a pet’s external genitalia and migrate up and into the urinary bladder. Viruses or fungi cause the problem on rare occasions, and in more infrequent instances, the infection comes from the bloodstream and enters through the kidneys.

The problem most commonly occurs in older female dogs, although male dogs can still have the problem. Longer-haired breeds seem to be more susceptible.

Adequate water intake and regular opportunities to urinate to prevent having to hold urine for long periods, along with the body’s natural defense mechanisms designed to prevent UTIs, are what prevent most animals from developing a UTI.

When those natural defenses are broken down or other disease processes affect the immune system, the likelihood of a UTI can increase.

Pets diagnosed with diabetes or kidney disease have an increased risk or developing a UTI.


What are the Signs of a UTI?

  • Bloody and/or cloudy urine
  • Straining or whimpering during urination
  • Accidents in the house
  • Wanting to be let outside more frequently
  • Dribbling urine
  • Licking around the genitalia
  • Listlessness, fever, and discomfort

When signs are noted, scheduling an appointment with the veterinarian as soon as possible is essential. Waiting too long can predispose the pet to even more complicated problems requiring more extensive treatment.


Diagnosis of a UTI

The history of the pet showing signs, a physical exam, and most importantly, a urinalysis are the initial tools used in making the initial diagnosis. Laboratory blood tests and X-rays may also need to be used.

A significant part of the testing is to culture the urine to determine the specific organism causing the problem and to help determine the proper antibiotics to use in the treatment.


Treatment of a UTI

Identifying the organism causing the problem and further culturing to determine the best antibiotic to use in the treatment are essential for a quick resolution.

The veterinarian will usually prescribe a 10-to-14-day regimen of antibiotics. It is essential to use the entire prescription even if the pet is better in just a few days. 

A follow-up visit to the veterinarian several days after the end of antibiotics is essential to retest the urine to be sure the infection is gone.


Treatment Support

  • Encourage increased water intake by using liquid toppers such as bone broth, wet foods, and sauces.
  • Frequent trips outside to urinate so urine does not stay in the bladder too long.
  • Trimming the longer hair around the genitalia. 
  • Feeding an animal protein-focused, low carbohydrate recipe that encourages acid urine. Bacteria have a hard time living in an acid urine.
  • Supplements containing different forms of cranberries, D-Mannose, Glucosamine, and specific herbs help support a healthy urinary bladder.



  • Encouraging adequate water consumption, especially for dogs mainly eating a dry kibble diet. 
  • Multiple fresh and clean water bowls in the home and water available outside.
  • Frequent trips outside to urinate. Pets that have to hold their urine for long periods are far more susceptible to developing a UTI.
  • Keep longer hair trimmed around the vulva and tip of the penial sheath.
  • Feeding a diet that encourages an acid urine can discourage infection.
  • High animal protein recipes naturally encourage acidity.

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