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A urinary tract infection (UTI) in dogs is caused by bacteria that travels up the urethra (the opening to the bladder). If left untreated, a UTI could cause painful, potentially damaging bladder infections. This sort of infection is very common in small animals like dogs and is usually not a life-threatening condition unless left untreated. Here’s what pet parents should know about UTIs and how to treat them.
Occasionally, a dog’s UTI will happen without the pet's parents noticing. Other times, it’s very obvious something is wrong, like your dog begs to go outside more often, struggles to pee, or has accidents in the house. These behaviors are indicators of a mild infection, but signs of serious a UTI in your dog include:³
You should contact your veterinarian immediately if you notice any of these symptoms, even if you think they are mild. UTIs can travel from the urethra into the bladder, then onto the kidneys. If left untreated, your pet’s bladder and kidneys could be damaged, leading to costly veterinary treatments.⁴
There are many causes of UTIs, like diet, lifestyle, and the size of your dog. As gross as it sounds, the most common source of E. Coli that causes a UTI is your dog’s poop, but that isn’t the only cause. Medical conditions like adrenal disease, diabetes, and cancers can also cause UTIs. Other common issues are bladder stones and physical trauma, which can impact your dog’s ability to fight UTIs before they become a larger problem.³
There could be many reasons why your dog keeps getting UTIs. Some dog breeds, like French bulldogs, tend to get UTIs more than others because of their body structure. Older, female dogs get UTIs more than male dogs because a male dog’s urethra is longer, giving his body enough time to fight the bacterial infection.
While the breed and sex of your dog aren’t something you can control, there are other factors — like their weight — that you can manage. Dogs who are obese are at risk of developing diabetes, which leads to excess sugar in the urine and higher risks of infections.⁴
Any dog with a compromised immune system is more likely to develop UTIs.³,⁴ Young puppies are extremely vulnerable to all sorts of infections while they are growing, so it is important to make sure they are well cared for. Invest in dog insurance while they’re young so you can save on their vet care.
Most of the time, you can treat a UTI at home with guidance from your vet over the phone. They may ask you to monitor your pup, increase the amount of water they drink, and change their diet temporarily.
However, if your dog is crying in pain or you see blood in its urine, this is an emergency only your vet can handle.
Your vet will review your pet’s medical history and talk with you about any recent changes in their life, like a move into a new home or a change in food. They’ll conduct a urinalysis, which is a lab test to find microbes in your dog’s urine. Then, you’ll be given antibiotics, like amoxicillin, to treat the infection.³,⁴ They may offer you pain medication to make your pup’s recovery more comfortable. In the meantime, a sample may be sent to a lab for further testing to rule out more severe infections.
If your vet finds crystals in the urine sample, the next step is an X-ray to see if your dog has bladder stones or if their kidneys are infected. Your vet may suggest surgery if bladder stones are found. They may also prescribe medication while monitoring the situation, depending on your dog’s age and health.³’⁴
The best way to prevent UTIs is to simply keep your dog healthy! Life can get hectic with different, competing responsibilities, but your pup relies on you as much as you rely on them. Make sure to walk them regularly, keep their weight within recommended ranges, and give them plenty of water. Consider probiotics and supplements which can keep your dog’s immune system in tip-top shape.
UTIs are very common in dogs and puppies, but with care and patience from pet parents, they can be managed. With time, you’ll learn your dog’s habits so you can catch minor infections before the infection turns into an expensive vet bill.
Do you have two different breeds of dogs? MetLife — a recent “Pet Insurance of the Year” award winner — is the only pet insurance company to allow multiple pets under one deductible.¹ You can cover your dogs or cats under one policy with our unique family plan option.¹,² Fetch your free quote today so you can worry less about treating common pet illnesses.
¹ Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.
² Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC.
³ “Does Your Dog Have UTI Symptoms or Something Worse?,” American Kennel Club
⁴ “Bacterial Urinary Tract Infections,” Merck Veterinary Manual