Urinary infections in dogs and cats: how can they be avoided?
Urinary infections in dogs and cats

Like humans, dogs and cats can have urinary disorders. Urinary tract infections are the most frequent infections after skin infections. Sometimes difficult to detect, these urinary problems must be taken seriously, since they can become recurrent and have an impact on the general wellbeing of our pets.

Urinary infections in dogs and cats: what are they?

Known as urinary tract infections (UTIs) in veterinary medicine, these ailments include infections of the upper urinary system (kidney and ureter) or lower urinary system (bladder and urethra). UTIs are characterized by the presence and proliferation of bacteria in the urinary system.

Urinary infections – causes and risk factors

In cats:

Urinary tract infections are relatively uncommon, and often follow catheterization for urethral obstruction in male cats. These blockages in urine flow are associated with the presence of calculi or mucus plugs in the urethra.

In dogs:

Urinary tract infections are predominantly “ascending” urinary infections (proliferation of organisms from the intestine or skin that move up through the urethra), which are more susceptible to occur in females (shorter urethra).
In both species, long-term treatment with corticosteroids (for recurrent skin conditions) or with other immunomodulators (for autoimmune diseases) can promote the occurrence of urinary infections, as a consequence of  a  decline in the body’s defenses.

Symptoms and diagnosis

There are many symptoms of a urinary tract infection: the animal urinates in small amounts but more often, there is occasional blood in the urine; he/she may feel pain and lick  at the genital area. Sometimes general signs are also present: weakness, loss of appetite, fever…particularly with upper urinary tract (kidney) infections.
In order to diagnose the condition and identify the causes, the vet will take a urine sample  for analysis in order to detect  bacteria, crystals and/or blood. Radiography and ultrasound will help to show the presence of calculi, tumours, etc. A blood test can indicate whether certain diseases favoring UTIs, such as diabetes and Cushing’s disease are present.

Treatment and prevention of urinary infections

Immediate treatment will involve prescription of appropriate antibiotics, and if necessary, the administration of analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs. If there is an underlying cause (tumor, malformation, diabetes…), it will be treated insofar as this is possible.

To limit recurrence it is important  that the pet has access to fresh water at all times, drinks enough, and can urinate as often as necessary (keep the cat’s litter tray clean and odor-free, and let the dog out regularly). Certain food supplements may also prove very useful by strengthening the defenses of the urinary tract, and thus helping to prevent infections.

Dr. Isabelle Mennecier, veterinarian


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