Urinary tract infections are a common issue for dogs, with around 1 in 7 suffering a UTI at least once during their lifetime. (Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4895361/)
Thankfully, there are a number of options for dog UTI treatment depending on the severity of your pet’s condition. Your vet will need to diagnose the cause of the UTI before deciding on the best available option and consider carefully the side effects that may result from each.
4 Ways to Treat Urinary Tract Infections in Dogs
1. Pain Relief
Your vet will likely offer anti-inflammatory painkillers relief or suggest medication that can reduce inflammation and to prevent your dog from any discomfort they may be experiencing. Importantly, it will also help reduce any inflammation in the urinary tract.
2. Diet Management
Your vet may prescribe specialised dog foods for recurring UTIs, particularly if your dog also has crystals/stones in its urine. A high-quality, balanced and complete diet will provide the necessary nutrients to help your dog’s immune system function optimally. Canned food will increase the water content of your dog’s diet, which helps increase the amount of urine produced, helping to flush bacteria and crystals out of the urinary tract. Your vet may also provide a supplement to help boost the immune system and help reduce signs of infection.
There are a range of UTI medical interventions available to vets, each of which can be specific to the type of urinary tract infection present in your dog. These include:
- Antibiotics: These are prescribed when the UTI is identified as a bacterial infection. Symptoms can clear-up or improve after only a couple of days of treatment. Courses of antibiotics must be strictly adhered to and completed.
- Probiotics: For dogs on antibiotics to treat a UTI, vets may recommend the use of probiotics for dogs to help preserve the balance of bacteria while antibiotics treat the infection.
- Medications for strengthening the sphincter: These are formulated to help strengthen the muscles inside your dog's urethra so it doesn't suffer incontinence or urinary discomfort as a result of its UTI. Other medications can be used to stop bacteria from remaining too long in your dog’s bladder, along with a variety of probiotics and prebiotics which can improve gut health, which in turn allows the immune system to function at its full potential.
- Medications for other diseases which can cause UTIs: Sometimes, in order to treat a dog with a UTI, it is critical that other underlying conditions are treated first such as diabetes or other blood conditions, which increase the likelihood of further UTIs reoccurring.
This is often the last resort but can be necessary to remove large urinary stones (crystals). Recovery can take some time afterwards, and there will likely be follow-up treatment with your vet to get your dog back to good health.
The Cost of Letting a UTI Go
Admittedly, there are some conditions and illnesses from which dogs suffer that can heal by themselves. In general, dogs have a strong immune system and can sometimes recover well without support or intervention. But a failure to commence early treatment for a dog’s UTI can have serious consequences.
On its own, a UTI can be very painful for a dog and cause huge discomfort and distress. It can affect their appetite and mood, which can lower their immunity and make them more prone to other infections. Worse still, a UTI can continue to develop and render your dog's urinary tract dysfunctional. Further down the line, this can lead to bladder dysfunction, kidney stones and inflammation of the prostate. In the most severe cases, when a UTI is left untreated, it can lead to blood poisoning and kidney failure.
Home Remedies for UTI Treatment
The best course of treatment is to first consult and follow the advice of your vet. While medication may be prescribed, there are some steps you can take at home to assist your dog’s comfort and recovery from a UTI:
- Ensure your dog drinks plenty of water. Refill their bowl regularly with fresh, cool water every time.
- Go for some gentle exercise, only as long as they are comfortable.
- Do not allow children to overexcite them as this can trigger a urinary response which can become painful.
- Be patient. If your dog is in pain, it might act a little more aggressively. Give them space and comfort when they need it.
The information in this article was checked by ZamiPet Veterinarian and General Manager Dr Andrew McKay, BVSc, University of Melbourne, 2000. Vet Registration No: V3985
Disclaimer: This information is general advice only. Before starting any treatment or supplement with your pet, please consult your vet first for the best approach to getting your pet back to their best health.