What’s the Bladder With You? Common Urinary Problems in Pets
Some pet owners will never know the pain, confusion, and disruption associated with urinary issues in pets. Others, unfortunately, have enough experience that they can recognize the specific symptoms right away.
Any cat or dog breed can be affected by problems with the urinary tract (which includes the bladder, ureters, urethra, and kidneys), but pets that are predisposed for diabetes, Cushing’s disease, and hypothyroidism may be at higher risk. Both new and knowledgeable pet owners can become unnerved by urinary problems in pets, and getting help right away is crucial to relieving their pain.
The urinary tract is meant to be a sterile environment in which to pass urine out of the body. Unfortunately, when bacteria is introduced to the urinary tract, painful problems can occur. Of all the parts of the urinary tract to become infected, including the ureters (the tubes that carry urine to the bladder), urethra and kidneys, the bladder usually suffers the most.
Bacteria from feces or the environment that enters the urinary tract can create even bigger problems for older pets and those with compromised immunity.
Pet owners are alerted to urinary tract infections by sudden changes to a pet’s bathroom habits:
- Smelly, cloudy or even dark-colored urine
- Bloody urine
- Straining when urinating, or vocalizing discomfort in the litter box or outside
- Frequent trips to pee
- Reduced urine volume
- Excessive thirst
- Soiling inside the house or on furniture
- Withdrawing or hiding
- Abdominal pain
- Appetite loss
These symptoms are very unpleasant for your pet and will only get worse with time. Prompt veterinary attention will involve a urinalysis, blood work, and other advanced diagnostics to get to the bottom of their symptoms. Depending on the results, and if it’s not already obvious, X-rays, ultrasounds, scans and other testing can reveal the underlying cause of infection.
Part of the Puzzle
A single urinary tract infection (UTI) can be quickly resolved if caught and treated early, and may never affect a pet again. However, recurring urinary problems in pets may be related to other various issues, such as:
- Urinary stones
- Cushing’s disease
- Prostate disease
- Abnormal or incomplete formation of the urinary tract
- A growth on some part of the urinary tract
- Antibiotic bacteria
Preventing urinary problems in pets can be achieved by maintaining proper hygiene. Washing and wiping your pet down after they’ve sat in dirt, mud, or dirty water is a good place to start. Also:
- Keep the hair around their rear end relatively short to inhibit bacteria
- Bathe as needed
- Keep a timed scheduled for bathroom breaks; let your pet fully eliminate each time
- Always keep fresh, clean drinking water accessible
- Consider a prescription diet
- Add supplements to help balance out the pH
- Discourage excessive licking of the genital area
Solving Urinary Problems in Pets
Problems in and related to the urinary tract can be deeply unsettling for everyone involved. If you notice any shifts to your pet’s bathroom habits, or you’ve heard them crying or straining when doing their business, it is time to act quickly. Staying in front of colonizing bacteria is crucial to a pet’s treatment, and may even prevent future problems.
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