Urinary Issues in Dogs

Claire Dunling

From UTI’s and kidney or bladder stones to chronic illnesses – our dog’s urinary organs are affected just as easy as our own. Don’t let them suffer in silence – find out the key symptoms of urinary issues in dogs and what you can do to improve urinary health and what measures you can take to prevent.

Causes of urinary issues in dogs

A lower urinary tract infection (UTI) is an ailment usually found in female dogs but can also be a symptom of a weakened immune system for both genders. A chronic illness like kidney and bladder disease or diabetes can also be the root cause of your dog’s urinary issue.

Urolithiasis, or what is commonly known as kidney or bladder stones, is a common cause of urinary problems in dogs. Problems start when crystals build-up to form a stone in the urinary bladder. A symptom of urolithiasis is difficulty urinating or experiencing pain as the stone(s) are blocking the urinary tract. While there is no single cause of urolithiasis, certain factors can contribute to your dog’s urinary health including:

Infection: a bladder infection is mostly seen in female dogs, although male dogs can also be affected. Infection of the bladder can result in bladder stones.

Breed: smaller dogs are typically affected by urinary issues. Some specific breeds like bulldogs, Dalmatians and Yorkshire terriers tend to develop bladder stones.

Water consumption: if your dog doesn’t drink enough water their urine will be more concentrated, which could result in bladder stones. Also, if they are drinking too much, they may begin to urinate indoors or hold onto their wee, this could lead to a bladder infection.

Food: your dog’s diet plays a huge role in their overall health and well-being. Certain dog foods contain a high amount of minerals which can increase the chance of crystals forming. If your dog has a history of urinary health complications, be sure to check their food and mineral intake. For instance, Magnesium and phosphate are found in many canine foods but can cause the crystal struvite to form which then develops into stones. This is imperative to their bladder health and minimises the risk of more extensive treatment, like surgery, in the future.

Symptoms of urinary issues in dogs

If your dog has any urinary problem, the likelihood of them being in a lot of pain is high and if left for an extended amount of time, the situation could worsen and become fatal if there was a complete blockage which wasn’t treated. Signs include:

How will your vet diagnose urinary problems in dogs?

If you’ve noticed any of the above symptoms or are just generally concerned, contacting your vet is the correct thing to do. Firstly, your vet will ask about your dog’s drinking and weeing behaviour. For instance, their daily water intake, how frequently they urinate or how they behave when they relieve themselves. A sample of your dog’s urine may be needed for an examination as well as further testing like x-rays and blood tests. Depending on the severity of the condition, an operation may be needed to remove stones. In some cases, a catheter may be used to ease your dog’s discomfort.

Handling urinary issues at home

Altering your dog’s lifestyle is essential to their recovery after serious bladder or kidney issues. Ensuring your dog has a specific veterinary diet to minimising the size of bladder or kidney stones is your first port of call. Royal Canin Urinary S/O Veterinary Health Nutrition Dog Food is a complete dietetic feed for dogs formulated to dissolve struvite stones and reduce their recurrence through its urine acidifying properties, a low level of magnesium and a restricted level of protein, but high quality.

It may seem obvious, but ensuring your dog has access to plenty of fresh water and can relieve themselves frequently is crucial to their recovery. Drinking lots of clean water will ensure their urine is diluted and make sure their system is getting ‘flushed out’.

The article is an opinion and should only be used as a guide. You should discuss any change to your pet’s care or lifestyle thoroughly with you vet before starting any program or treatment.

If in doubt contact your veterinary practice

And always keep your vet's phone number handy - just in case!