urinary tract infections in petsWhen it comes to pet health problems, urinary tract infections are not all that uncommon. We frequently see patients with symptoms of a potential problem, and of course their caretakers have questions. Why did this happen? How will we fix it? Will my pet have problems again?

Carriage Hills Animal Hospital thinks it is very important that our furry patient’s advocates have all the information. We invite you to read on so that you know all about urinary tract infections in pets.

UTI Basics

A urinary tract infection is the condition in which bacteria invades the urinary tract of an animal. The urinary tract is defined as the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. These areas of the body are normally sterile, or bacteria-free. The body is very good at preventing infection normally.

Sometimes, though, the body’s normal defenses are breached by bacteria. This may be due to plain old bad luck, poor  hygiene, or an underlying predisposing factor. Things like altered immune function, stress, alteration in urine pH, systemic diseases, or abnormalities in the anatomy can lead to urinary tract infections in pets.

Most of the time UTIs involve the urinary bladder. Infection in the bladder causes irritation, leading to multiple symptoms which can include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Urinating small amounts
  • Accidents in the house
  • Straining during urination
  • Discomfort
  • Visible blood in the urine

Diagnosing Urinary Tract Infections in Pets

There are multiple things that can cause symptoms similar to those observed in urinary tract infections in pets. It is important for us to see your pet if he or she is demonstrating any of these symptoms.

Our physical examination can tell us a lot about your pet’s overall health and tip us off to any indication of predisposing issues. We also typically will check a urine sample, running a test known as a urinalysis.

When we run a urinalysis, we are looking at multiple parameters that help us to diagnose and treat your pet better. These include:

Gross appearance – The physical appearance of the urine including color and clarity are important parts of any urinalysis.

Concentration – This test, also known as specific gravity, can be helpful in assessing kidney function or diagnosing conditions such as feline interstitial cystitis.

Chemical analysis – A urine dipstick with multiple chemical test pads help to test the urine sample for qualities including pH, protein, glucose, microscopic blood, and several other important characteristics.

Sediment – Examining the particulate matter contained in a urine sample under the microscope is also important. We are able to assess the sample for things like red blood cells, white blood cells, bacteria, crystals (mineral deposits), and other cells contained in  the urinary tract.

Urine culture – If a urinary tract infection is suspected based on urinalysis results, we often run a urine culture as well. This test allows us to grow any bacteria contained in the sample, helping us to identify the culprit and what antibiotics will be best utilized to help your pet.

If your pet seems to have a complicated urinary tract infection or if the problem is recurrent, we may recommend additional diagnostic testing in order to assess for underlying problems. Blood testing is commonly utilized to check overall systemic health. We also utilize imaging included radiographs (x-ray) and ultrasound to look at the kidneys and bladder. These techniques can help assess for things like urinary tract stones and tumors within the urinary system.

When Things Go Wrong

Thankfully, most urinary tract infections in pets are easily cleared up with a round of antibiotics. Sometimes, though, the body does not behave itself.

Untreated properly, UTIs can lead to more serious problems. These include:

  • Urolith (stone) formation
  • Kidney infection (pyelonephritis)
  • Sepsis

This is why it is so important to let us know right away if your pet is showing signs of a potential urinary tract infection. Not only is it an uncomfortable and painful condition, but the consequences of ignoring it can be quite serious. Call us right away if you think your pet might need our help.