Detecting and Treating Common Types of Dog Bladder Infections

07.10.2022 - Reading time: 4 minutes

Ein Hund liegt auf einem braunen Hundebett

A bladder infection is quite a common illness in dogs and can affect both genders in all age groups. However, older animals get ill more often with bladder infections than younger dogs, and female dogs more often than male dogs.


What is a bladder infection?

A bladder infection, also called cystitis, is an infection in the area of the lower and discharging urinary tracts. Apart from the bladder itself other areas of the urinary tracts can often be affected, like the urethra for example. Bladder infections in dogs can be infectious or sterile (not contagious).

Infectious bladder infections are generally caused by the following pathogens:

  • Bacteria like Escherichia coli (E. coli), staphylococci and streptococci
  • Mycoplasma – these are bacteria that have no cell walls
  • Fungi like Candida albicans
  • Parasites like Capillaria plica, a species of hairworm

Most infectious bladder infections for dogs are caused by bacteria. Infections with mycoplasma, fungi or parasites tend to be rare.

Infection with parasites occurs only by direct transmission from the urethra of the infected dog to the urinary tract of the infecting animal. This can happen while mating or swimming together for example. The pathogen can also theoretically be transmitted by licking the genital area but this is rather improbable.

Causes of non-infectious cystitis:

  • malformations of the urinary tract
  • tumour in the bladder or urethra
  • bladder stones
  • urinary calculi, i.e. crystalline deposits found in the urinary tract

Non-contagious bladder infections occur rather rarely. This generally occurs due to bladder stones that irritate the mucous of the bladder and result in an infection. When the immune system of a dog is weakened because of another underlying illness like diabetes, there is the possibility that naturally occurring bacteria are increasing in the urinary tract and causing cystitis. Typical symptoms of cystitis are increased urination, an unpleasant odour of the urine, or even blood in the urine.

How do you recognise a bladder infection in a dog?

The main symptom that you as an owner will notice in your dog is an increased urge to urinate. This can result in your pet urinating very often suddenly, or urinating where it is normally not allowed, like in the home. Due to pain it is also possible that your animal only urinates small amounts, but quite often over a longer period of time. Some animals try to stop urinating all together due to the pain.

The following symptoms indicate a bladder infection in dogs:

  • noticeable, increased urge to urinate
  • frequent urination of rather small amounts of urine
  • pain when urinating
  • urinating in unusual areas, lack of hygiene
  • malaise, listlessness
  • no or visibly disturbed urination
  • Blood in urine
  • noticeable odour of the urine
  • fever with strong infections

If you notice one or more of these symptoms with your dog do not hesitate to contact your vet.

What types of bladder infections are there?

Basically, a distinction is made between acute and chronic cystitis in dogs. Acute cystitis normally arises quickly and suddenly and is mostly bacterial. If a dog constantly or regularly over a short period of time gets ill with a bladder infection one is talking about chronic cystitis, of which there are also two types.

Recurring cystitis: these are constantly recurring infections. The cause is generally pathogens that survive in the urinary tract of the animal or in the prostate of male dogs and lead to new infections. Too little a medication dosage or administering a wrong antibiotic can also be causes for recurrent cystitis. Multi-resistant germs can also be a reason for chronic cystitis.

Reinfections: these are recurring infections within a year with one or more new pathogens. The original pathogen is not relevant in this form of bladder infection. Animals with a compromised immune system are particularly prone to reinfection.

How does a vet diagnose a bladder infection in a dog?

To determine a bladder infection the vet first examines the dog’s urine. A urine sample from your pet is required for this, that you need to collect in a clean container, and that cannot be older than three hours. Then the urine sample is examined for germs, blood, bacteria, urinary stones and other parameters. Normally, the vet can make an accurate diagnosis based on the urine sample. However, if anything is unclear, a blood test, ultrasound or X-ray may still be performed.

What can I do if my dog is suffering from a bladder infection?

What is important is that you carry out the veterinary treatment diligently. This means that you give your dog tablets like antibiotics in the correct dosage, at the correct times, and over the required period. As a preventative measure, and during a bladder infection, ensure that your dog does not get cold. Dry him off well if he has gotten wet during a walk, and offer him a warm space in his dog bed. Discourage him from lying on cold stone slabs or other cool floors. You can alleviate bladder infection pains by laying a slightly warmed, not too hot water bottle, under his stomach.

During your dog’s bladder infection avoid stress of any kind and encourage him to drink a lot. To provide your dog with additional liquid you can, for example, add water to his dry food, only feed him wet food with some broth, or add some sausage-cooking water to his drinking water.

Some bladder teas specifically for dogs like equisetum tea or nettle tea can also help in a supporting manner. Ask your vet about this. In most cases bladder infections in dogs fully heal with the correct diagnosis and medication and your beloved four legged friend is soon fit again.

Futtermittel für Hunde zur Unterstützung bei Harnwegsinfekten

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