Dora is a 4-year-old, spayed Labrador Retriever who struggles with recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs). For six months, she had to urinate often, and she gave off a smell.
When Dora’s owner spotted blood in her urine, she took her to the vet, who detected her with a UTI. Her symptoms improved rapidly when she was on antibiotics however then returned soon after she stopped taking the medication.
Her vet recommended another antibiotic, and her bladder concerns again seemed to deal with entirely – until a month later, when the blood was back.
Dora’s story is not unusual. Dogs with frequent UTIs give disappointment for both owners and veterinarians.
Here’s a look at why it happens – and what vets will do to combat the problem.
How Does a Recurrent Urinary Tract Infection Differ From a Regular UTI?
The bladder acts as a storage area for urine once it’s been made by the kidneys. Although the bladder is sterilized and without bacteria, the external genital area consists of a big amount of bacteria. If these bacteria gain entry into the bladder, and begin to grow, an infection can occur, resulting in the symptoms of a UTI.
Many dogs get easy UTIs, which develop once and can be treated easily with a short course of antibiotics. However dogs who experience more than three UTIs annually – or more than two UTIs in six months – are specified as having chronic or reoccurring UTIs.
What Are Common UTI Symptoms?
- Frequent, small-volume urination
- Painful urination
- Bloody or malodorous urine
- Urine dribbling
If you see any of these symptoms, take your animal to a vet, who will likely advise a urinalysis (UA) and a urine culture to make a proper medical diagnosis. The UA may give hints to hidden conditions, but a urine culture is the only test that can verify a UTI, along with identify the kind of bacteria in the bladder, so a vet can administer the right antibiotic.
If a dog is experiencing her first UTI, a vet may only collect a UA and prescribe an antibiotic. However if a UTI is reoccurring or a hidden condition exists, a UA and a urine culture must be performed.
Why Do Dogs Get Recurrent UTIs?
UTI symptoms typically deal with within two days of beginning an antibiotic treatment, but some owners do not provide the whole course to their family pets as prescribed, which can lead to persistent UTIs.
In other circumstances, if a urine culture was not performed, an inappropriate antibiotic may have been recommended or the dose and period were inadequate to totally clear the UTI.
To make sure that a UTI is gone, vets will generally recommend another urine culture five days after the last antibiotic dosage is offered.
There are likewise several underlying medical causes of persistent UTIs:
- Conditions that alter immune function, such as Cushing’s disease, hypothyroidism, diabetes and obesity
- Kidney or prostate infections, kidney or bladder stones and bladder growths
- Deteriorated urinary sphincters, which might take place after making sterile
- Neurologic issues
- Steroid usage
- Structural problems of the genitalia or congenital urinary abnormalities
How Do You Treat and Prevent Recurrent UTIs?
If an underlying cause is present, it needs to be fixed with medication or surgery to effectively avoid UTIs from relapsing.
But if no hidden concern is identified, veterinarians should use other methods to prevent persistent UTIs. Here are some options that your veterinarian might go over with you:
- Increased water intake to allow for more regular urination
- Anti-bacterial wipes, which can keep bacteria numbers low in the genital area and avoid them from acquiring entry into the bladder
- Long-lasting, low-dose prophylactic antibiotic therapy to keep the bladder sterilized
- Cranberry extract, which may prevent some bacteria from causing UTIs
- Bladder bactericides
Why Is Continued Monitoring of Recurrent UTIs So Important?
Reoccurring UTIs are a risk aspect for the development of particular bladder stones and might result in kidney infections that can cause significant damage.
All dogs with recurrent UTIs – whether they have symptoms or not – should be given regular urine cultures every 3 months.
In the event of a persistent UTI, antibiotics should be used for four weeks, in addition to a prevention method advised by your veterinarian.
As for Dora, she was diagnosed with excessive vulvar skin folds, which triggered skin infections that were spreading out into her bladder. As soon as she had surgery to fix the problem, she was kept track of with routine urine cultures for one year – and never ever experienced another UTI.