Urinary Tract Infections can be annoying, irritating, painful. If they are left untreated, they can result in more complex issues, such as kidney disease. Here’s what you need to know and how we can help.
What is a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)?
Infections can occur in any part of the urinary tract, however they are most common in the bladder so are therefore most often referred to as a “bladder infection”. These infections are usually easily curable but, left untreated, they can develop into struvite crystals and/or may affect the kidneys and this can be more serious.
What causes a UTI?
Once urine is produced in the kidneys, it travels to the bladder. The bladder is generally a sterile area and when it is emptied, usually any stray bacteria that may have gotten into the bladder goes out with the urine. However, sometimes the bacteria does not pass through the bladder and remains there, giving it a chance to grow into an infection.
What should I look for if I think my pet might have a UTI?There is usually no loss of appetite, fever, or intestinal upset that otherwise might indicate to you that your pet is not feeling well. This can make it hard to notice symptoms so it’s important to pay attention to their habits and mostly to notice differences from “normal” behavior. Look for:
- increased thirst
- urine with a strong smell, blood in the urine or cloudy urine
- licking of the genitalia (more than usual!)
- inability to hold their urine for the usual amount of time
- frequent urination, often with little output (straining to urinate) or dribbling. This can also be a sign of cystitis and no elimination at all can be dangerous as it usually indicates a blockage. If this is the case, please call your pet’s caregiver as soon as you see this.
Who is prone to UTIs?
In general, cats are more prone to urinary tract disease than dogs, but some dogs are still susceptible. Here are some health conditions that may mean your pet is prone to urinary tract infections:
- Cats with bladder stones
- Elderly female dogs and cats
- Pets with diabetes mellitus, hyperthyroidism, or Cushing's disease. All three of these conditions cause increased thirst and urine output in pets. The urine is often very dilute and can create a much more hospitable environment for bacteria growth, which could lead to infection
- Dogs who hold their urine for long periods because the bacteria sits in the bladder for a longer period of time
Prevention of infections
- Make sure your pet has access to clean drinking water at all times
- Let your dog outside as often as possible so they don’t have to hold their urine for excessive amounts of time
- Keep your cat’s litter box clean and sanitary
- Be sure to check your elderly pets’ joints-if your pet has arthritis, they may not be able to position their body to fully empty their bladder when relieving themselves. This will cause leftover urine to stay in the bladder which can allow infections to occur. If you suspect they may have arthritis, try adding a joint support supplement such as this one for cats and this one for dogs to their diet
- Grooming: for those dogs and cats with longer hair, grooming the area around their genitalia will allow for urine to flow freely without getting stuck near the urethral opening. When urine sticks to the pet’s hair, it is likely to cause infections within the urinary system
- If a pet is susceptible to urinary tract infections, add urinary acidifiers to your pets’ diet and, on a maintenance level, add these weekly to keep unwanted bacteria at bay. Cranberry Relief is a good option to support urinary tract health in both cats and dogs.
- A word of caution: if your pet has calcium oxalate stones, do not give acid-producing products. This will exacerbate the condition and cause crystals and stones to form. Acidifiers include cranberry extract, vitamin C, Methionine, and D-mannose. Many food brands also carry formulas that are specific to bladder health that support a healthy PH, which is essential to a healthy urinary tract. The imbalance of pH, either too acidic or too alkaline, can play a role in urinary tract health
Diet and urinary tract health
Diet is a huge factor in maintaining the urinary tract health of your pet. One way to help overall health is to feed wet food (raw, canned, etc). Wet food has a higher water content and can support a healthier bladder by increasing water intake. Raw food contains more fresh nutrients than dry food allowing your pet’s system to maximize nutritional benefits. It also contains more moisture, and often pets-especially cats-don’t drink enough water on their own. Plus fresh food is so tasty! We have a large variety of both raw food for cats and raw food for dogs that can help maintain optimum health. Other options we carry are freeze dried food for cats and dehydrated food for dogs that you can hydrate for increased moisture content, and many canned food options for cats and canned food options for dogs. Some products have ingredients such as marshmallow root and glucosamine such as Nulo Advanced Health to promote a healthy bladder or Meow Biotics’ Kitty P. Freely, a human-grade probiotic supplement formulated specifically for cat urinary tract health. You can also look for foods that have specifically formulated pH values that support a healthy urinary tract in your pet.
Give us a call or come by the store-we’re happy to make recommendations for your furry friend.
If your pet shows signs of a urinary tract infection, please visit your veterinarian for confirmation through a urine test or urine culture and assistance. This article was put together by our staff as an informational piece only. We are not veterinarians, nor do we claim to be. Thank you for reading.