Urinary Problems in Dogs: What You Should Know

urinary problems dogs what you should know dr franck vet

Dr. Franck, my dog seems to have urinary problems.

He has been going outside several times and seems to be peeing several times.

What should I do?

First of all, let’s talk about urinary problems as a whole because they are a fairly common problem for pet owners.

These problems can be mild or severe and can be caused by a number of factors. In this article, we will discuss some of the most common urinary problems in dogs, as well as their causes, symptoms, and treatments.

Common causes of urinary problems in dogs

If we start with the most known disorder (without being necessarily the most frequent), there are urinary infections.

These are caused by bacteria that enter the urinary tract and infect the bladder, urethra, ureter, or kidneys (one or more of these structures).

Females are considered more at risk for these infections than males. The main reason is that their urethra is shorter and allows bacteria to enter more easily. 

And what do the signs of this problem look like, Dr. Franck?

I should say that the signs of the problems described here are very often the same for many urinary disorders:

  • more frequent urination
  • presence of blood in varying amounts
  • pain sometimes
  • abnormal odor
  • etc.

In the case of these infections, they are not the same as in the case of males. 

In the case of these infections, they can last quite a long time if they are not treated. Then they will go to the kidneys in certain circumstances. It is therefore important to take your dog to the vet if you think he has a urinary tract infection. A urinalysis, a culture of the urine, and sometimes an X-ray will be done. 

The treatment of urinary tract infections will usually be to administer antibiotics to eliminate the infection.

The thing not to do is to blindly give a medication “because we know there is an infection”. In some cases, your veterinarian will recommend additional treatment, such as pain control medication or a special diet. The reason for the special diet is both treatment and prevention of future recurrence. 

Now let’s also talk about incontinence, although it seems less likely for your dog in this case. 

Incontinence is when a dog is unable to control his urine. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including age, hormonal imbalances, or other medical problems.

As with infections, this condition is also more common in females than in males. The signs are similar, although discomfort or pain is rare.

Obviously, before declaring a dog incontinent, there are several tests to be done by your veterinarian. These tests are necessary to differentiate from other possibilities.

Then, in the end, the treatment of incontinence depends on the underlying cause. So I can’t tell you what the treatment will be in these cases. However, you should know that depending on the situation, medications may be prescribed to help regulate bladder function. 

First parenthesis on a particular type of incontinence in the female dog.

It is a hormonal type of incontinence. This type of incontinence affects the vast majority of spayed bitches. It is characterized by the inability to control urination and is caused by a lack of estrogen in their bodies. This will sometimes occur months or even years after a bitch has been spayed. The symptoms are identical to what has already been described.

There are medications that usually control this type of incontinence. 

Okay, Dr. Franck, I’m a little reassured. So tell me, are there any other causes of urinary problems in dogs I should know about?

Yes, I think we need to consider the possibility of crystals or stones (also called calculi) in the bladder.

Crystals are very small particles that can be found in the bladder.

When there are a small number of them, these crystals are sometimes harmless. However, when there are more, they will create irritation/inflammation and sometimes lead to the creation of stones. These stones can of course also cause irritation and inflammation of the bladder, which can lead to various problems such as pain, infection, and more rarely a blockage of the urinary tract. Symptoms found in dogs include frequent urination, difficulty urinating, and blood in the urine. Your veterinarian can diagnose this with a urinalysis and/or x-rays.

Some urinary diets can solve this type of problem, while in other situations surgery will be required. 

Second parenthesis on urinary tract blockage (also called a urinary obstruction).

Unfortunately, this can happen when a urinary problem progresses.

For example, the blockage may be caused by bladder stones, tumors, or other factors. If left untreated, urinary obstruction can lead to severe pain, kidney problems, and in the worst cases, death.

Symptoms of urinary obstruction include

  • difficulty urinating
  • abnormal straining
  • no urine at all

If you think your dog has a urinary obstruction, it is important to consult a veterinarian immediately. Surgery may be performed to remove the obstruction. Then following hospitalization, preventive measures will be recommended to avoid a recurrence. 

So if I understand correctly, Dr. Franck, if I think my dog has a urinary problem, I shouldn’t just wait and see if it gets better, right? 

Yes, exactly! These problems will rarely go away by themselves, so it’s best to tackle them from the start.

As is often the case, it’s by catching the problem early on that we can often control it better. The associated costs will usually be lower as well because they will be less. If you wait days and weeks, you will end up with a much worse situation and your dog will have suffered for no good reason. 

In the meantime, you should not restrict access to water because it is essential to keep your dog well-hydrated. Some well-meaning dog owners will consider removing the water to reduce the amount of urination. This is actually not desirable because the urine will be more concentrated (because it contains less water) and therefore more prone to urinary disorders. 

Tell me, I’m curious: has your dog ever had urinary problems?  If so, what exactly happened?

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