Home Remedies for Treating Your Dog’s UTI

What is a UTI in dogs?

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in any part of a dog’s urinary system, including the kidneys, ureters, bladder or urethra [1]. UTI’s are caused by bacteria which enters and multiplies in the urinary tract, most commonly E. coli from the GI tract [2].

Common symptoms of a UTI in dogs include [3]:

  • Frequent urination
  • Straining or crying when urinating
  • Blood in the urine
  • Excessive licking of genitals
  • Cloudy or foul-smelling urine

If left untreated, UTIs can spread to the kidneys and cause potentially life-threatening kidney infections. It’s important to get veterinary treatment for a suspected UTI as soon as possible.

When to see the vet

a vet examining a dog to check for signs of a urinary tract infection.

If your dog is showing any signs of a possible UTI, it’s important to have them seen by a veterinarian. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, you should take your dog to the vet if they display the following symptoms:

  • Frequent urination
  • Discomfort while urinating
  • Blood in the urine
  • Straining to urinate
  • Crying out while urinating
  • Licking around the urinary opening
  • Loss of bladder control

These signs indicate the UTI may be progressing and causing significant pain or discomfort for your dog. Waiting too long to seek treatment could allow the infection to spread to the kidneys, which is much more serious. According to the Forbes Advisor, any abnormal urinary symptoms in dogs should be evaluated by a vet right away to properly diagnose and treat the UTI.

You should also call your vet immediately if your dog stops urinating altogether. This could indicate a dangerous blockage of the urinary tract that requires urgent veterinary care.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to your vet if your dog shows concerning urinary symptoms. Early treatment improves the prognosis and can prevent complications from a UTI. Your vet can run tests to determine the bacteria causing the infection and prescribe the appropriate antibiotic treatment.

At-home Treatment Options

There are several at-home treatment options that may help dogs with UTIs feel better and potentially clear up the infection. These include:

Increased Water Intake

Increasing your dog’s water intake can help flush bacteria out of the urinary tract. Provide fresh water at all times and consider adding more water bowls around the house. You can also add water to your dog’s food or create bone broth ice cubes to encourage hydration.

Prescription Diet Food

Veterinarians may recommend prescription urinary or kidney diet dog foods, which are designed to promote urinary tract health. These foods contain reduced magnesium, protein, and phosphorus, along with increased omega fatty acids. They can help adjust urine pH and mineral levels to deter bacterial growth.

Cranberry Supplements

Cranberry is a popular natural remedy used to treat and prevent UTIs in both humans and dogs. Cranberry contains proanthocyanidins that prevent bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract lining. Give your dog cranberry capsules or liquid extracts to help flush out the urinary tract.

Herbal Remedies

Certain herbal remedies like marshmallow root, parsley, and couch grass may have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties to soothe UTIs. Consult your vet before using herbal remedies and follow dosage instructions carefully.[1]

Tips for Preventing UTIs

There are several things you can do at home to help prevent your dog from getting UTIs:

Proper Potty Training

House training your dog and establishing a regular potty routine can help reduce UTIs. Take your dog outside frequently, especially first thing in the morning, after meals, after playtime, and before bed. Stick to a consistent schedule as much as possible. Reward your dog for going potty outside with treats and praise (Source).

Stay Hydrated

Make sure your dog has access to fresh, clean water at all times. Change the water daily or more often if needed. Increased water consumption can help flush bacteria from your dog’s system before an infection develops (Source).

Healthy Diet

Feed your dog a high-quality diet and avoid unhealthy fillers. Some vets may recommend special therapeutic diets for dogs prone to UTIs. Ask your vet for diet recommendations tailored to your dog (Source).

Supplements

Certain supplements like cranberry, D-mannose, probiotics, vitamin C, and herbs like marshmallow root may help prevent UTIs in dogs. Check with your vet before giving any supplements.

Lifestyle changes

Making some simple adjustments to your dog’s lifestyle while they have a UTI can help speed healing and prevent recurrence. Here are some tips:

a dog drinking water from a bowl to help prevent urinary tract infections.

Take your dog out to relieve themselves more frequently, at least every 4-6 hours. More potty breaks reduce the time urine sits in the bladder and prevents bacteria from multiplying (Source).

Promptly clean and sanitize any urinary accidents in the house. Leftover bacteria can reinfect your dog. Use an enzymatic cleaner to fully break down the urine (Source).

Gently wipe your female dog’s vulva with unscented baby wipes after she pees. This removes extra bacteria clinging to the area (Source).

Try to minimize stress, which can make UTIs worse. Give your dog extra playtime, walks, and affection. Consider calming supplements if they remain stressed (Source).

When to call the vet again

If your dog’s UTI symptoms persist or worsen despite at-home treatment, it’s important to follow up with your veterinarian. Recurrent UTIs, meaning more than one episode in a six month period, also warrant a call to the vet for further evaluation.

Some signs that your dog’s UTI is not improving or getting worse include:[1]

  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Difficulty urinating or straining
  • Crying out while urinating
  • Urinating in inappropriate places
  • Blood in the urine
  • Loss of bladder control or dribbling urine
  • Lethargy
  • Decreased appetite
  • Vomiting

If your dog displays any of these worsening symptoms or has more than one UTI in a 6 month timeframe, contact your veterinarian right away. Recurrent UTIs may indicate an underlying issue that needs further diagnostic tests and treatment.

With veterinary guidance, recurrent UTIs can often be managed through additional medications, dietary changes, or addressing other medical conditions. Don’t hesitate to call your vet if your dog’s symptoms don’t improve with at-home care.

[1] https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/urinary-tract-infections-utis-in-dogs

Risk Factors

Certain dogs are more prone to developing UTIs than others. According to the VCA Animal Hospitals (https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/urinary-tract-infections-utis-in-dogs), the following dogs have an increased risk of getting UTIs:

  • Female dogs – Females have a shorter urethra than males, allowing bacteria quicker access to the bladder.
  • Senior dogs – Older dogs may have weaker immune systems or other age-related issues that increase UTI risk.
  • Certain breeds – For example, Boxers, Bulldogs, Dobermans, and Labrador Retrievers are predisposed to UTIs.
  • Dogs with other health issues – Diabetes, kidney disease, and adrenal gland disease can make dogs more prone to UTIs.

Veterinarians recommend paying close attention to signs of UTIs in higher risk dogs and bringing them in promptly for diagnosis and treatment if symptoms develop (Cornell University, https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/riney-canine-health-center/health-info/urinary-tract-infections).

Diagnosing a UTI

a vet using a microscope to examine a urine sample for signs of infection.

There are several tests vets use to diagnose a UTI in dogs, including:

Urinalysis

A urinalysis is usually the first test done when a UTI is suspected. This involves checking a urine sample for signs of infection, such as increased white blood cells, bacteria, and inflammatory markers. Abnormal urine concentration can also point to a UTI. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, a urinalysis is the first test a vet will do when urinary signs are present.

Urine culture

A urine culture is considered the gold standard for diagnosing a UTI, according to Today’s Veterinary Practice. This test involves growing any bacteria present in a urine sample in a laboratory. The bacteria can then be identified and tested to determine the most effective antibiotic for treatment.

Imaging

Imaging techniques like x-rays or ultrasound may be used to check for stones, tumors or other abnormalities in the urinary tract that could be causing the infection. According to BondVet, imaging helps rule out other potential causes of urinary issues.

Prescription medications

If your dog has a confirmed UTI diagnosis from the vet, they will likely prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection. Some common antibiotics used for dog UTIs include:

  • Amoxicillin
  • Trimethoprim-sulfonamide combinations like Septra
  • Cephalosporins like Cefpodoxime
  • Fluoroquinolones like Enrofloxacin

These antibiotics work by killing the bacteria causing the UTI. It’s important to give the full course as directed, even if your dog seems better, to prevent recurrence. According to Today’s Veterinary Practice, amoxicillin, cephalosporins, and trimethoprim-sulfonamides are recommended as first choices for uncomplicated UTIs.

Your vet may also prescribe pain relievers if your dog is straining or seems uncomfortable urinating. Common options are NSAIDs like Carprofen or Meloxicam. These can provide relief while the antibiotics clear the infection.

There are also urinary antispasmodics that may be prescribed alongside antibiotics, like PPA, to help relax the muscles and make urination less painful. These can provide additional comfort especially if there’s inflammation.

Follow your vet’s instructions closely when giving prescription UTI medications. Call them if you have any concerns about side effects or worsening symptoms.

Prognosis and recovery

The prognosis for dogs with UTIs is generally good, especially when treated early. With prompt veterinary treatment, most dogs make a full recovery within 7-10 days.

a happy, healthy dog that has recovered from a urinary tract infection.

The course of treatment usually involves antibiotics for 10-14 days to clear the bacterial infection. Some dogs may also be prescribed urinary acidifiers or supplements to make the urine less hospitable to bacteria. It’s important to finish the full course of antibiotics as prescribed, even if your dog seems better, to prevent recurrence.

To prevent recurrence, keep your dog well-hydrated and encourage urination. Feed a balanced diet and avoid too many high-protein or acidic foods which can irritate the bladder. Keep the hindquarters and genital area clean. You can also discuss prophylactic antibiotics with your vet for dogs prone to repeated UTIs.

With appropriate treatment and preventative care, most dogs recover fully from a UTI with no lasting effects. However, some dogs may experience recurring infections requiring further treatment. Overall, the long-term outlook is good if the underlying causes can be identified and managed.

Sources: https://www.smalldoorvet.com/learning-center/medical/utis-in-dogs/, https://www.animalhospitalofclemmons.com/site/veterinary-pet-care-blog/2020/12/18/urinary-tract-infection-in-dogs

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