URINARY TRACT INFECTIONS It is hard to believe that just like people, dogs and cats can acquire the same urinary complications as we do! By Dr. McDonagh, DVM - Town Center Animal Hospital Approximately 14% of dogs will acquire a UTI in their lifetime, most commonly occurring in young to middle aged females, whereas middle to older aged cats more frequently acquire UTIs.
What is involved with the urinary tract? Understanding the parts involved with the urinary system is important because your pet can display different clinical signs depending on where an infection is occurring in the body. The urinary tract consist of two kidneys where urine is produced, attaching each to a ureter connecting to the urinary bladder where urine is stored in the body. The urine then enters the urethra and leaves the body.
Where do UTIs occur? A UTI can occur in any part of the urinary system. Most commonly a bacterial infection starts on the outside of the body and ascends up into the bladder. Skin and external genital area have large amounts of bacteria residing on the outside of the body. If a pet has abnormal anatomic structures, or their normal immune defenses are down, the bacteria can migrate up the urinary tract and reside in the bladder, which is normally a sterile environment. If infection is left untreated, or your pet has other concurrent systemic conditions, bacteria can move up to the kidneys in which signs of lethargy, nausea and fever can occur, along with potential to develop secondary complications such as bladder stones, or blocking the urethra completely!
Common signs to look for with urinary bladder infections: • Urinating small amounts at a time • Posturing to urinate repeatedly • Urinating more frequently • Having accidents in the house • Drinking more water • Mucous/discharge before or after a pet urinates • Blood spots may be present in the urine and also urine can develop strong odor 20
Las Vegas Pet Scene Magazine • July/August 2017
Some pets show no symptoms at all! Annual labwork involving CBC/Chemistry and urinalysis are screening tests to rule out underlying systemic conditions and infections that can be missed at home.
Testing for urinary tract infections: The main test confirming a urinary tract infection is a urine culture. Since the bladder is normally a sterile environment, a urine culture consists of obtaining a urine sample directly from the bladder by a process known as cystocentesis. The sample is then grown in a specific environment and checked for bacterial growth. Having a urine culture also allows for correct antibiotic treatment of the infection. A urinalysis allows your veterinarian to evaluate further properties of urine such as the concentration, presence of protein, blood, inflammatory cells, glucose, and crystals. Urine sediment can give overall clues to your pet’s systemic health. It is important to understand that since pets with other systemic conditions such as metabolic abnormalities, kidney injury, and bladder stones, bloodwork along with advanced imaging may also be recommend by your veterinarian to allow for optimal care for your pet.
Treatment Urinary tract infections are routinely treated with appropriate antibiotics. Depending on the type of infection, antibiotic treatment can last for a minimum of 10-14 days, up to 21 days. Treatment for persistent UTIs can average 31-45 days. Once antibiotic treatment is finished a repeat urine culture is recommend to confirm there is no longer bacterial growth. Pending other properties of your pet’s urine, special urinary diets along with supplements are also available to aid in the overall health and comfort of your pet.