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Have you ever had a bladder infection? Anyone who has is familiar with the aching, urgent feeling of needing to go right now and then only dribbling out a tiny bit of urine. You call your doctor, describe your symptoms, he prescribes antibiotics, and that’s the end of it.
It’s not so easy with dogs. Urinary tract infections (UTIs) and urinary tract stones are common in dogs. Because these conditions can be painful, it's important to know what to watch for in your dog.
When dogs get UTIs, they may strain or have difficulty urinating, it may be painful for them to urinate, and they may have blood in their urine.
Breaking housetraining is another possible sign of a bladder problem. You might not know that there’s blood in your dog's urine unless you see a pinkish stain on the carpet where he had an accident. Or you may notice that when you’re gone, your normally well-behaved dog is peeing near the door and producing a large volume of urine. It helps to be super observant about your dog’s urination habits so you will notice if he seems to be straining or taking longer than normal to urinate.
Take your dog to the veterinarian if you notice the following signs:
To get a diagnosis, your vet will need to analyze a urine sample for the presence of white blood cells, which signal infection, or crystals, which suggest that the dog may have bladder stones. A urinalysis is a start, but culturing the urine — taking a sample and letting bacteria grow — allows us to know for sure if there’s an infection and identify the bacteria causing it. It usually takes a few days to get the results of a urine culture.
Without a culture, your veterinarian can’t know exactly which antibiotic to prescribe or even if one is necessary. Because of the risk of developing antibiotic-resistant bacteria, we don’t like to prescribe antibiotics unless they are absolutely necessary and we know exactly which bacteria to target.
A culture also tells us other things about what might be causing the problem. For instance, it’s a long, hard slog for bacteria to make it all the way up the male urethra. We don’t see as many bladder infections in males because of that, so when they do have one, we know that something more serious may be going on, such as kidney or prostate infection or stones that are affecting the urinary tract.
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