Pets do, in fact, contract Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) and they are just as painful and uncomfortable for pets as they are for people. However, unlike people, pets aren’t able to tell you when they are uncomfortable while urinating so they rely on their owners to bring them in for veterinary care for a UTI.
The good news is that when they are caught early, UTIs are usually treatable and the process will make your pet feel better in a short amount of time. The key though is to know the symptoms so that you can bring your pet into the vet early on.
What is a UTI and how are they caused?
All UTIs, regardless of species, are usually caused by bacteria that ascend from external sources in the urethra (the tube that helps transport urine out of the body). This bacteria then makes its way into the bladder. UTIs are most common in spayed, female dogs, but all pets are susceptible to contracting an infection. Cats are generally more commonly diagnosed with UTIs than dogs and we have to watch out for a larger urinary problem in cats called FLUTD (Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease).
UTIs are brought on by a handful of things such as infrequent bathroom breaks, lack of consistent availability of water, bladder stone and, in some cases, diabetes.
What are the symptoms?
For dogs, a common giveaway of a UTI involves changes in urination patterns. If your dog is asking to go outside more frequently, yet only urinates a small amount, or is having uncharacteristic accidents in the house, you may want to consider a trip to the vet. Genital licking is another symptom of a UTI since those regions generally tender and dogs lick their wounds when they are uncomfortable. We can test for UTIs by analyzing urine in our office so feel free to drop some off if you think your pet might have an infection. If collected the night before, refrigerate it, but clearly label to avoid mistaken assumptions!
In cats, their symptoms usually involve litter box habits. A cat with a UTI will make frequent visits to the litter box, only passing a small amount of urine each time. In more advanced cases, some cats will howl while urinating to vocalize their discomfort. Sometimes blood can be found in the urine, so make sure to check carefully for discoloration while cleaning the litter box.
What is the treatment?
Most of the time, especially when found early, treatment is easy and quick! If your pet shows any of the above symptoms, schedule a trip to the vet immediately or drop off a urine sample if you’re able to collect one. During this test, veterinarians looks for abnormalities in the urine such as blood, protein, sugar or white blood cells. If your pet does have a UTI, your vet will prescribe antibiotics and likely ask you to increase the amount of water you give your pet.
Unfortunately, when left untreated, what was once a UTI can turn into a larger, potentially fatal medical issue.
Should you wish to inquire about our urinalysis test or ask our team of professionals any questions, please don’t hesitate to give us a call!