The urinary tract includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder, prostate and urethra. Urinary tract conditions, due to a variety of different causes, are common in dogs of any breed, though certain breeds may be predisposed to certain conditions. Urinary tract diseases share many of the same symptoms and require immediate evaluation and diagnosis from a veterinarian in order to treat the condition.
A buildup of bacteria in the urinary tract leads to urinary tract infections. Urolithiasis is the formation of crystals in the urinary tract. High urine pH contributes to crystal development. Conditions such as prostatic disease in male dogs, cancer or tumors in the urinary tract, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, Cushing’s disease, spinal cord injuries or congenital abnormalities can also contribute to urinary tract complications.
Symptoms of urinary tract conditions are very similar regardless of the underlying cause. Typical symptoms include inability to urinate or small urine production, bloody or cloudy urine, fever, incontinence, straining to urinate, crying or whining when urinating, strong urine odor, vomiting, appetite changes, back pain, increased water consumption and lethargy.
While urinary tract diseases can affect any dog, some dogs are predisposed for certain conditions. Older female dogs and dogs with diabetes are at a greater risk for urinary tract problems. Crystal development can occur in any dog; however, certain breeds show increased risk. These breeds include the bichon frise, Dandie Dinmont terrier, miniature poodle, miniature schnauzer, shih tzu, Yorkshire terrier, Dalmatian, dachshund, English bulldog, giant schnauzer, mastiff, Jack Russell terrier, Weimaraner, Lhasa apso, Newfoundland, Irish terrier and Cavalier King Charles spaniel.
Diagnosis and Treatments
If your dog experiences any urinary tract symptoms, seek veterinarian care immediately. Blockages in the urinary tract, if left untreated, can be fatal. Before treatment can begin, the veterinarian needs to determine the underlying medical cause. He will perform a physical examination of the kidneys and bladder as well as conduct tests such as a urinalysis and urine culture, blood work, radiographs and ultrasounds. Treatment depends on the underlying cause and can include antibiotics for bacterial infections, dietary changes to adjust urine pH, fluid therapy, surgery to remove stones, tumors or correct abnormalities, and treatment of any other underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes.