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Bladder Infection in Dogs

Bladder infections are common, but can be very painful for dogs. Read on to know more about the causes, symptoms, and treatment of this condition...
DogAppy Staff
Owning a dog is not only a wonderful experience, but also a great responsibility. Right from the food, water, shelter, and overall health, this innocent animal is completely dependent on its owner. Hence, it becomes extremely important for any pet owner to know about some of the common health problems it faces, and what preventive measures can be taken to prevent them. Bladder infection is one such problem, and can affect dogs of all ages and breeds.

Causes
Also known as urinary tract infection or acute cystitis, it is a bacterial infection of the inside lining of the urinary bladder and the urethra (the duct through which the urine exits the body). Though it affects both male and female dogs, bladder infection is more common in female dogs, as they have a shorter urethra, allowing the bacteria to accumulate more rapidly. In some cases, the infection is also caused by crystals (minerals that merge to form bladder stones) causing irritation and inflammation in the bladder. Other probable causes include increasing age, diabetes mellitus, prostatitis, and long term corticosteroid therapy. Hence, any medical condition that can interfere with the body's defense mechanism can create an ideal breeding ground for the bacteria.

Symptoms
Knowing the symptoms is extremely important in order to prevent or treat. However, given below are some of the most frequent signs.
  • Frequent and painful urination (often at unusual places)
  • Dribbling urine or straining to urinate
  • Blood in the urine
  • Frequently licking genitals
  • Weakness and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased thirst
  • Stress, lethargy, and depression
During the initial stages of the infection the dog might not show any signs.

Diagnosis
Early diagnosis is essential for proper treatment, hence, if any of the aforementioned symptoms are seen in the dog, immediately consult a veterinarian. He/she will examine the dog thoroughly, diagnosing the bladder for tenderness, stones, or abnormal firmness. The doctor will then take a urine sample to detect bacteria, blood, white blood cells, protein, sugar, or any other abnormal ingredients. He/she will also check the urine's concentration and pH. In case of bladder stones or crystals, an x-ray or ultrasound image may be taken.

Treatment
To treat this bacterial infection, the vet will prescribe oral antibiotics, which are effective against bacteria. A 10- or 15-day course of antibiotics like cephalexin or amoxicillin can be prescribed to overcome the infection. For stones or crystals, depending upon the culture and sensitivity tests, the doctor will prescribe the necessary antibiotics. However, in the case of chronic or severe bladder infection, use of urinary antiseptics, long term antibiotics, and change in diet under the vet's supervision can be helpful.

Home Remedies
The simple home remedies given below will not only help treat the condition, but will also prevent it from occurring in the future.
  • Bathe the dog regularly to maintain proper hygiene.
  • Ensure that the dog is drinking ample amounts of clean water every day.
  • Taking the dog out every few hours will allow it to urinate regularly and prevent bacteria accumulation in the bladder.
  • Take the dog out for long walks regularly, as this stimulates the bladder. Also, don't let the dog hold its urine for a very long time, as this can lead to a buildup of bacteria.
  • Blackberries, raspberries, and cranberries contain compounds called ellagitannins that prevent bacterial adhesion to the bladder wall. Hence, provide the dog with the juices of these berries to avoid the condition.
Bladder infection is very common, and occurs at some point of time in the animal's life. However, if you observe any change in the dog's behavior or urinary habits, do not delay consulting a veterinarian. Early diagnosis is extremely important, as untreated bladder infections may develop into a serious, life-threatening condition. Hence, early detection can prevent complicated and expensive treatments, and can save your dog from pain, illness, and death.