A watercolor painting of a dog with a bowl of food that highlights the theme of canine health issues like UTI and bladder infections.

What is Urinary Tract Disease in Dogs?

What is it?

Urinary disease in dogs refers to any condition that affects the urinary system, which includes the kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra. The condition can be caused by a variety of factors such as infection, stones, tumors, or congenital abnormalities. Diagnosis typically involves urine tests, blood tests, imaging studies, and other diagnostic procedures as needed.

How is it Treated?

Medication such as antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed. In more severe cases or in cases of blockages or stones, surgery may be necessary to remove the obstruction. Changes in diet, increased water intake, and other lifestyle modifications may also be recommended to promote urinary tract health. Regular monitoring and follow-up with a veterinarian are important for managing the condition.

Breed Predispositions

Miniature Schnauzers Bichon Frises Cocker Spaniels Lhasa Apsos Shih Tzus Dachshunds Miniature Poodles Yorkshire Terriers


Jenny had always been attentive to her spirited Dachshund, Bella, making sure she was well-fed, groomed, and showered with love. One day, she noticed Bella was having trouble during her bathroom breaks, whimpering and pacing anxiously. Concerned, Jenny scheduled an appointment with her trusted veterinarian. After a thorough examination, the vet informed her that Bella was suffering from a urinary tract disease. In this blog post, we will delve into the world of urinary tract diseases in dogs.

Urinary disease in dogs includes a variety of conditions that impact the urinary system, including the kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra. Such disorders can interrupt the regular function of this system, which is crucial for expelling waste products from the body, maintaining hydration, and controlling certain essential physiological processes. Affecting dogs of every age, size, and breed, the impact of these common urinary diseases can range from mild, temporary disturbances to serious, potentially life-threatening complications. 

Furthermore, urinary diseases can manifest as acute, such as a sudden loss of kidney function or chronic conditions. Given the wide range of conditions that fall into the category of urinary diseases, including various bladder stones, it is a prevalent concern for both pet owners and veterinarians.

Types of Urinary Disease in Dogs

  • Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs): These bacterial infections can occur in any part of the urinary system, including the kidneys, bladder, ureters, or urethra. UTIs in dogs can cause frequent urination, discomfort during urination, blood in the urine, and urinary incontinence.
  • Bladder Stones (Uroliths): These mineral deposits form in the bladder and can cause irritation, blockage, or infection. Symptoms can include blood in the urine, straining to urinate, and frequent urination. In severe cases, a surgical procedure may be necessary to remove the stones.
  • Kidney Disease: Kidney disease in dogs can be either acute or chronic. Acute kidney injury can occur due to a toxin, infection, or shock, while chronic kidney disease is often seen in older dogs and is usually the result of long-term wear and tear on the kidneys.
  • Urinary Incontinence: This refers to the inability of a dog to control its urination. It can result from various causes, including neurological disorders, hormonal imbalances, congenital abnormalities, or weakening of the muscles that control urination.
  • Cystitis: This is inflammation of the bladder, often due to a bacterial infection, but bladder stones or tumors can also cause it. It can cause discomfort, increased frequency of urination, and blood in the urine.
  • Prostatitis: This condition, which refers to inflammation of the prostate gland, can occur in intact male dogs. It may cause pain, difficulty urinating or defecating, and systemic signs of illness.
  • Urinary Tract Tumors: Although not common, tumors can develop in the urinary tract of dogs. These may cause symptoms similar to a urinary tract infection or bladder stones, and diagnosis typically involves advanced imaging and biopsy.

Remember that each condition has specific causes, risk factors, and treatment options. For example, a veterinarian should be consulted if a dog shows signs of a urinary tract problem.

Causes of Urinary Tract Disease in Dogs

Urinary disease in dogs, a common issue affecting 14% of male and female dogs during their lifetimes, can arise from various factors disrupting the urinary tract’s proper functioning. This includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. A prevalent cause is bacterial UTIs or bladder infections, typically resulting from bacteria that have ascended the urethra into the bladder. If left untreated, these infections can potentially reach the kidneys.

Uroliths, or stones, forming in the urinary tract are common underlying causes of urinary disease in dogs. These stones, comprising different materials such as struvite or calcium oxalate, can result in obstruction or further infections.

urinary disease in dogs

Metabolic disorders or pre-existing medical conditions can also lead to urinary diseases. For instance, chronic kidney disease and acute kidney failure can result in various canine urinary tract symptoms, given the kidneys’ critical role in waste filtration and fluid balance. Other conditions that can affect the urinary tract include diabetes and Cushing’s disease, which may also contribute to urinary problems like urinary incontinence.

Anatomical irregularities, including congenital disabilities or injury-induced damage, can disrupt regular urinary functions in your male or female dog. Finally, neoplasia or cancer can affect any part of the urinary tract, leading to urinary disease. A dog’s specific urinary disease often depends on the exact cause, with leptospirosis being another potential underlying cause.

Symptoms of Urinary Disease in Dogs

Clinical signs of urinary tract disease in dogs can vary, hinging on the specific condition and its severity. However, some commonly noticed UTI symptoms include:

  • Frequent urination or attempts to urinate, often indicating an issue such as a complicated UTI
  • Struggling or discomfort while urinating, possibly accompanied by vocal expressions of pain such as whining or howling
  • Presence of blood in the urine, a condition medically termed hematuria
  • Uncontrolled dribbling or leakage of urine, indicative of incontinence. Increased consumption of water, known as polydipsia
  • Urinating in inappropriate places, possibly suggesting an inability to control urination
  • Frequent licking of the genital or urinary opening area
  • Behavioral changes such as lethargy or decreased appetite
  • An unusually strong or different odor emanating from the urine
  • Manifestations of discomfort, such as vomiting or changes in appetite – these could be signs of kidney disease, and in severe cases, kidney failure may be a concern
  • Experiencing abdominal pain or discomfort

If your dog is showing any of these signs, it’s crucial as a pet owner to consult with a veterinarian promptly to help your dog. The sooner the condition is detected and treated, the higher the probability of a successful outcome.

Diagnosing Urinary Diseases in Dogs

Diagnosing urinary diseases in dogs requires veterinary professionals to employ various methods, ranging from detailed physical examinations to intricate imaging technologies.

Physical Examination

The first stage in diagnosing urinary diseases involves a thorough physical examination. During this process, the veterinarian will scrutinize for physical indications such as distress, abdominal swelling, or sensitivity around the urinary opening.


An essential diagnostic tool in this context is urinalysis, an examination of the urine to identify any disease-causing elements. For instance, it could unearth issues such as urinary tract infections, kidney disease, or diabetes.

Blood Tests

Blood tests also play a crucial role in assessing the overall kidney function and other organs’ performance. They can reveal surges in specific enzymes or waste products indicative of possible kidney problems.

X-rays and Ultrasound

Veterinarians often use imaging techniques such as radiographs (X-rays) and ultrasounds to inspect the urinary tract visually. These tools can detect abnormalities such as urinary stones, tumors, or structural anomalies.

Urine Culture

In cases where a urinary tract infection is suspected, a urine culture may be performed. This technique involves using a urine sample to cultivate bacteria in a laboratory setting, confirming an infection and identifying the specific bacteria causing it. This information is instrumental in selecting suitable antibiotics to combat the cause of infection.


In some complex cases, a procedure called cystoscopy might be employed, where a slender camera is inserted into the urethra to scrutinize the bladder and other parts of the urinary tract.


If cancer is a suspected cause, a biopsy might be deemed necessary. This process involves extracting a small tissue sample from the bladder or other parts of the urinary tract for microscopic examination.

Treatment of Canine Urinary Tract Disease

The specific strategy for treating dogs’ urinary diseases hinges on the disease diagnosed and its intensity.

VAdrgvet a woman giving a small breed dog some medicine loose w 20c3d681 e981 4bae 9bf8 c188afb5d13a


If the urinary disease is associated with a systemic issue, such as kidney disease, Cushing’s disease, or diabetes, medication to manage these conditions will likely form part of the treatment plan. While these medicines don’t directly treat the urinary disease, controlling the underlying condition can help relieve the urinary symptoms.

If the urinary disease stems from a bacterial infection, commonly seen in cases of uncomplicated UTI, antibiotics are the standard course of action veterinarians prescribe. However, the choice of antibiotic hinges on the specific bacteria instigating the infection, often identified through a urine culture.

Dietary Changes

Dietary adjustments can significantly aid in treating dogs afflicted with urinary stones, a form of lower urinary tract disease. For example, certain therapeutic diets can contribute to dissolving specific stones, like struvite stones. Not only do these diets aid in dissolving existing stones, but they can also preemptively hinder the formation of new ones. In addition, in certain instances, escalating water intake to spur urination can assist in eliminating smaller stones and bacteria, essentially helping to treat the infection.


Surgical intervention may be necessary in some situations, including large stones, tumors, or anatomical irregularities. The surgical procedure performed depends on the site and characteristics of the issue. For instance, stones lodged in the urethra or bladder may call for surgical removal if dissolution or flushing is impossible.

  • Cystotomy is the most frequently employed surgical process for removing bladder stones. Here, the vet cuts the abdomen to access the bladder, followed by another incision to extract the stones.
  • When urinary stones are lodged in the urethra and cannot be otherwise removed or recurrent blockages, a permanent new opening might be created in the urethra, a procedure known as a perineal urethrostomy commonly performed in male dogs. 
  • In severe cases of kidney infection or kidney disease, unresponsive to other treatments, or when a kidney tumor is present, a nephrectomy might be needed to remove one or both kidneys.
  • When stones are lodged in the ureters (the tubes ferrying urine from the kidneys to the bladder), surgical intervention may be necessary to remove them. However, this complex procedure is performed less frequently. 
  • Surgical correction of congenital disabilities: Some dogs might have inherent anomalies in their urinary system, like ectopic ureters, resulting in incontinence and recurrent urinary tract infections. These defects can typically be rectified through surgery.

These surgical procedures are usually performed under general anesthesia and involve post-operative care, pain management, and potentially antibiotics to prevent infection. The specific procedure and follow-up care depend on the individual dog’s condition and the vet’s evaluation at the animal hospital.

Intravenous Fluid Therapy

In cases where a dog is severely dehydrated or suffering from kidney disease, providing intravenous (IV) fluids might be necessary. This helps correct dehydration, stimulates urination, and flushes the urinary system, aiding in removing bacteria or small stones and forming a part of the emergency care for treating urinary tract disease.

Each of these treatments will be tailored to the dog’s needs, and often, a blend of treatments will be utilized. Therefore, regular follow-up appointments will be imperative to track the dog’s progress and fine-tune the treatment.

Prevention of Urinary Disease in Dogs

There are many ways to treat UTIs, including antibiotics, home remedies, dietary changes, and behavioral modifications. However, there are some things you can do at home to prevent UTIs before they happen.

Preventing UTIs in Dogs

  1. Keep your dog clean! Clean up after him regularly, especially if he has been playing outside. Wash his paws often, too. If you notice any signs of infectious diseases, such as redness around the genitals or anus, immediately take your dog to the vet.
  2. Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise. Exercise helps keep your dog’s muscles strong and healthy, which reduces the risk of UTIs. Take your dog out for walks every day. This will also help keep him happy and active.
  3. Don’t let your dog drink water directly from puddles or streams. Water contains germs that can cause UTIs. Always give your dog fresh drinking water.
  4. Avoid giving your dog table scraps. Raw meat, bones, fish, eggs, dairy products, and raw vegetables contain harmful bacteria that can make your dog sick.
  5. Feed your dog a balanced diet. Your dog needs protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fiber to stay healthy. Be careful not to feed your dog foods with added sugar, salt, preservatives, artificial colors, flavors, or additives.
  6. Give your dog probiotics. Probiotics are live microorganisms that support good health. Some commercial pet food brands offer these supplements. Talk to your veterinarian first to see what probiotic supplement would work best for your dog.
  7. Watch your dog’s weight. Obesity increases the risk of UTIs because extra fat collects around the hips and abdomen.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, you can test your dog for UTI at Home!

There are developed simple urine test kits that can be performed at home. The test uses a unique paper strip pre-coated with reagents specific to uric acid (UA). When the sample touches the coated area, UA reacts with the reagent to produce a color change. This reaction takes place within 10 minutes.

The test results are then read visually by comparing the strip’s color to the chart provided. If there is no color change, the effect is negative; if there is a visible color change, the impact may be positive or negative, depending on how much UA was produced.

A positive result indicates that the dog has a kidney infection (UTI), while a negative effect means that the dog does not have a UTI. These test kits come with instructions and a product manual that explains how to perform the test.

  1. History – The history of your dog should include any previous signs of UTI, such as frequent urination, blood in urine, fever, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, etc. This also consists of any medications your pet may have been taking before the onset of symptoms.
  2. Physical Exam – Your veterinarian will perform a physical exam on your dog to evaluate his overall health. He will look at your dog’s eyes, ears, nose, mouth, skin, paws, gait, posture, muscle tone, body temperature, heart rate, breathing patterns, and general appearance.
  3. Urinalysis – If your dog has had a UTI before, he will likely already have some bacteria in his discolored urine. To determine if bacteria are present, your vet will collect a sample of your dog’s urine and send it to a lab for testing.
  4. Bloodwork – If your dog has never had a UTI before, but you suspect he might have one now, your vet will draw a small amount of blood from him to test for specific antibodies associated with UTIs. These tests can detect whether your dog has a UTI even when no bacteria are found in his cloudy urine.

Yes, stress can cause urinary problems in dogs. When dogs are stressed, their bodies may release stress hormones that can affect the urinary system. This can lead to issues such as increased frequency of urination, accidents in the house, urinary tract infections, or even urinary blockages in severe cases. Therefore, managing stress in dogs and creating a calm environment is important to help prevent or alleviate urinary problems. If you notice any changes in your dog’s urination or suspect urinary issues, it’s best to consult with a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

A urinary tract infection (UTI) can affect a dog’s behavior. Dogs with a UTI may exhibit signs of discomfort or pain, which can lead to changes in their behavior. For example, they may appear restless, irritable, or exhibit signs of discomfort while urinating, such as frequent squatting or straining. Some dogs may also experience increased thirst or have accidents in the house due to the infection affecting their bladder control. Therefore, it’s important to monitor your dog’s behavior and consult with a veterinarian if you suspect a UTI, as prompt diagnosis and treatment are necessary to alleviate the infection and restore your dog’s comfort.

Yes, certain types of dog food can contribute to urinary problems in dogs. For example, diets high in certain minerals, such as magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium, can increase the risk of urinary stone formation or crystal formation in the urinary tract. Also, low-quality or poorly balanced diets may not provide the nutrients necessary for proper urinary health. Therefore, choosing a high-quality dog food specifically formulated to support urinary health and providing your dog with plenty of fresh water to help flush out its urinary system is important. If you suspect your dog is experiencing urinary problems, it’s best to consult a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and appropriate dietary recommendations.

While it’s always best to consult a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan, you can do a few things at home to help support a dog with a urinary tract infection (UTI). First, ensure your dog has access to plenty of fresh water to promote urination and help flush out bacteria. Cranberry supplements or cranberry juice (unsweetened, diluted) may also be beneficial, as cranberries contain compounds that can help prevent bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract walls. However, it’s important to note that cranberry supplements should not be used as a substitute for veterinary care and should be used under the guidance of a veterinarian. Additionally, provide your dog with a clean and comfortable environment, and monitor their symptoms closely. If the symptoms persist or worsen, it’s important to seek veterinary attention for proper diagnosis and treatment.

While some mild urinary tract infections (UTIs) in dogs may resolve independently, seeking veterinary care for proper diagnosis and treatment is generally recommended. Bacterial infections can cause UTIs, and without appropriate treatment, the infection may persist or spread to other parts of the urinary tract, leading to more serious complications. A veterinarian can perform a urine analysis and prescribe appropriate antibiotics to target the specific bacteria causing the infection. It’s important not to rely solely on home remedies or wait for the infection to resolve independently, as prompt veterinary intervention can help prevent potential complications and relieve your dog.

Kidney disease in dogs can lead to various symptoms, and coughing can be one of them. When kidneys are not functioning properly, waste products can build up in the body, causing imbalances and potential fluid accumulation in the lungs. This fluid buildup can lead to coughing or respiratory distress. However, it’s important to note that coughing can have multiple causes, and kidney disease is just one possible factor. Therefore, if your dog is experiencing coughing or any other concerning symptoms, it’s recommended to consult with a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

While some forms of kidney disease in dogs can have a hereditary component, most cases are not directly inherited. Certain breeds may have a higher predisposition to developing kidney disease, suggesting a genetic influence. However, most cases of kidney disease in dogs are caused by other factors such as infections, toxins, medications, immune system disorders, or age-related changes. It’s important to note that proper diagnosis and evaluation by a veterinarian are necessary to determine the specific cause of kidney disease in an individual dog.

Glucosamine is generally considered safe for dogs and is commonly used as a supplement to support joint health. However, in rare cases, some dogs may experience gastrointestinal upset, including diarrhea or loose stools, as a side effect of glucosamine supplementation. No direct evidence suggests that glucosamine causes urinary problems in dogs. However, if you notice any changes in your dog’s urinary habits or have concerns about their health, it’s best to consult a veterinarian for proper evaluation and guidance.

The choice of antibiotic for a urinary tract infection (UTI) in dogs depends on various factors, including the type of bacteria causing the infection and its sensitivity to different antibiotics. Commonly used antibiotics for treating UTIs in dogs include amoxicillin, ampicillin, cephalexin, enrofloxacin, and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole. A veterinarian will determine the specific antibiotic and dosage after assessing the dog’s condition and conducting appropriate diagnostic tests, such as urine culture and sensitivity. Therefore, following the veterinarian’s instructions and completing the full course of antibiotics to treat the UTI effectively is important.

Congenital kidney disease in dogs occurs when abnormalities or defects occur at birth. These defects can affect the structure or function of the kidneys, leading to various health issues. Some common types of congenital kidney disease in dogs include polycystic kidney disease, renal dysplasia, and hereditary nephritis. These conditions are typically inherited and can result in reduced kidney function, abnormal growth of cysts in the kidneys, and progressive kidney damage over time. Congenital kidney disease can lead to chronic kidney failure if left untreated or unmanaged. Treatment options may include medication, dietary management, and supportive care to help manage the condition and slow down the progression of kidney damage.

Yes, kidney disease in dogs can sometimes cause diarrhea. The kidneys are crucial in filtering waste products and maintaining the body’s balance of fluids and electrolytes. When the kidneys are not functioning properly, toxins can build up in the bloodstream, leading to gastrointestinal disturbances, including diarrhea. Additionally, dogs with kidney disease may experience changes in their appetite, weight loss, and dehydration, which can contribute to the development of diarrhea. Therefore, it’s important to consult a veterinarian if your dog has kidney disease and is experiencing diarrhea to determine the underlying cause and appropriate treatment.

Kidney disease in dogs can potentially cause shaking or tremors, but it is not a common or specific symptom of the condition. Various factors, including pain, anxiety, neurological issues, or other underlying health conditions, can cause shaking or tremors in dogs. Suppose you notice your dog shaking or experiencing any abnormal symptoms. In that case, it’s best to consult a veterinarian for a proper evaluation and diagnosis to determine the cause and appropriate treatment.

Yes, kidney disease in dogs can sometimes cause tremors. Tremors or shaking can result from electrolyte imbalances and toxins with kidney disease. These imbalances can affect the nervous system and lead to muscle tremors. However, it’s important to note that other factors can also cause tremors, so a thorough veterinary examination is necessary to determine the underlying cause and provide appropriate treatment.

Yes, certain factors can make some dogs more predisposed to urinary tract infections (UTIs). For example, female dogs generally have a higher risk of developing UTIs compared to males due to their shorter urethra, which makes it easier for bacteria to enter the urinary tract. Other factors that can increase the likelihood of UTIs include underlying health conditions that affect the immune system, urinary tract abnormalities, urinary incontinence, and poor hygiene. Therefore, it’s important to provide proper care, hygiene, and regular veterinary check-ups to help reduce the risk of UTIs in predisposed dogs.

The treatment for lower urinary tract problems in dogs depends on the specific condition and underlying cause. The treatment often involves a combination of medication, lifestyle changes, and dietary adjustments. For example, antibiotics may be prescribed to treat urinary tract infections, while anti-inflammatory medications can help with bladder inflammation. Surgical intervention may be necessary in cases of bladder stones or urinary blockages. Additionally, dietary modifications, such as a specialized urinary diet, may be recommended to support urinary health. Working closely with a veterinarian is important to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for your dog’s condition.

Urinary bladder stones in dogs, also known as uroliths or urinary calculi, can have various causes. The most common factors include:

  1. Diet: Certain diets, particularly those high in minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium, can contribute to forming bladder stones in some dogs.
  2. Urine pH imbalance: Imbalances in urine pH levels can create an environment conducive to stone formation. For example, alkaline urine pH may contribute to the formation of struvite stones, while acidic urine pH can be associated with oxalate or urate stones.
  3. Urinary tract infections: Infections in the urinary tract can lead to the development of bladder stones, particularly struvite stones, as bacteria can promote the formation of these crystals.
  4. Genetics: Genetic factors predispose some dog breeds, such as Dalmatians and Bulldogs, to certain bladder stones.
  5. Urinary tract abnormalities: Structural abnormalities or dysfunctions in the urinary tract, such as narrow urethra or urinary retention, can increase the risk of stone formation.
  6. Dehydration: Insufficient water intake can result in concentrated urine, which may contribute to the formation of bladder stones.

It’s important to note that the specific underlying cause of bladder stones can vary among individual dogs. Therefore, consulting with a veterinarian is crucial for properly diagnosing, treating, and preventing bladder stones in dogs.

Both kibble (dry food) and wet food can suit dogs with urinary issues. Still, it depends on the dog’s specific needs and a veterinarian’s guidance. Here are some considerations:

  1. Water intake: Wet food typically has a higher moisture content, which can help increase water intake and promote more dilute urine. This can benefit dogs prone to urinary issues, especially those at risk of forming certain bladder stones.
  2. Urine pH control: Some urinary issues may require specific manipulation of urine pH. Certain prescription diets in kibble and wet forms are formulated to adjust urine pH to reduce the risk of stone formation.
  3. Individual preferences: Some dogs may prefer one type of food. Feeding a food that the dog enjoys and readily consumes can help maintain a consistent diet.
  4. Veterinary recommendation: It’s crucial to consult a veterinarian to determine the most appropriate diet for a dog with urinary issues. They can assess the dog’s specific condition, conduct any necessary tests, and recommend a diet that best suits their needs.

In many cases, specially formulated prescription diets are recommended for dogs with urinary issues, specifically designed to address common urinary problems. These diets can be available in both kibble and wet forms. It’s best to work closely with a veterinarian to determine the most suitable diet for your dog’s urinary issues.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this veterinary website is intended for general educational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult a licensed veterinarian for any concerns or questions regarding the health and well-being of your pet. This website does not claim to cover every possible situation or provide exhaustive knowledge on the subjects presented. The owners and contributors of this website are not responsible for any harm or loss that may result from the use or misuse of the information provided herein.

Similar Posts