Skip to main content

Urinary tract infections in dogs are so painful – here are ways you can help your pet through one

What is the best dog food for urinary health? The answer may surprise you

A urinary tract infection, or UTI, is a common but pesky issue for humans. Though cats can get UTIs, it’s rare in the feline population. How common are urinary tract infections in dogs?

Unfortunately, it’s pretty common for vets to diagnose UTIs in dogs. We don’t like it when our pets are unwell, so this news may not be the best to hear. A UTI is a painful condition that happens when the dog’s urinary tract gets infected. It’s usually a bacterial infection.

Though common and uncomfortable, UTIs are treatable, and it’s essential to seek care to prevent the relatively minor issue from turning into a larger one. You can also take steps to decrease your pet’s risk of a UTI, such as finding the best nonprescription dog food for urinary health. Here’s what to know about urinary tract infections in dogs.

A sad white bulldog
Image used with permission by copyright holder

What causes UTIs in dogs?

Dogs, like humans, typically develop a urinary tract infection because of bacteria. Your dog is constantly exposed to bacteria on walks and even when they eliminate in the backyard. Sometimes, that bacteria gets onto the genitals and then enters the urinary tract, which includes the bladder, kidneys, and prostate.

Some dogs are more susceptible to UTIs, including:

  • Older female pets
  • Pets who have to hold their urine for long periods
  • Pups with diabetes
  • Dogs with kidney disease
  • Immunocompromised dogs, such as ones with Cushing’s Disease

Sad dog laying on the floor

What are the signs and symptoms of a urinary infection in dogs?

You never want your dog to get a UTI, but it happens. Understanding common signs can ensure you get them care quickly and reduce the time they spend in pain. Common flags your pet may have a UTI include:

  • Bloody urine
  • Straining to pee
  • Frequent attempts to urinate with very little pee coming out
  • Straining or whining while peeing
  • Sudden peeing around the house despite being reliably housebroken
  • Increased licking of genitals
  • Vomiting
  • Changes in appetite
  • Fever
  • Dripping urine

If your dog displays any of these symptoms, get your vet on the line and schedule an appointment. These signs often point to a UTI, but they may also indicate another issue. Only a vet can make an appropriate diagnosis and begin treatment.

A vet evaluating a Yorkie with their tongue out
Gustavo Fring / Pexels

What is the treatment for UTIs in dogs?

If your dog has a UTI, you probably want them on the mend stat. First, your vet will need to diagnose your pup with a UTI formally. To do that, they’ll run a urinalysis or pee test. The vet will likely have you collect this sample at home, such as on a walk.

Your vet is looking at the pH levels of your dog’s urine and will also check for ketones and glucose (sugar), which are flags for diabetes. Your vet may also order an ultrasound to check for bladder stones, a potential side effect of a urinary tract infection in dogs.

Once your vet makes a diagnosis, treatment can proceed. How does that look? Typically, treating a UTI in dogs involves antibiotics. These medications are best prescribed by a vet. Avoid giving your pet any medication meant for human UTI treatment. The vet may also discuss dietary changes for the prevention of recurrent UTIs.

A man walking his dog in the woods
Image used with permission by copyright holder

How can I prevent a UTI in my dog?

Prevention is the best medicine. In the case of a UTI, prevention protects your dog from discomfort and allows the two of you to play and cuddle happily together. Let’s discuss how you can protect your pet, including the best dog food for urinary health.

You can reduce your dog’s risk of UTI by:

  • Keeping them hydrated. Leave out plenty of water, which helps their urinary tract run like a well-oiled machine by flushing out toxins.
  • Feeding a well-balanced diet. The best nonprescription food for urinary health is actually standard, AAFCO-approved kibble. A well-balanced diet can protect against obesity and diabetes (these issues can also up the risk of a UTI in dogs). Portion the food in accordance with your pet’s age and weight, and ensure it makes up 90% of your pet’s diet.
  • Frequent chances to go potty. Ensure you’re giving your dog plenty of opportunities to “use the facilities,” because holding urine for too long can trigger a UTI.
  • Considering supplements with the vet. If your dog is constantly getting UTIs, your veterinarian may recommend supplements. They can give the best guidance on what your dog should take and how much.

You can’t completely protect your pet from getting a UTI. Sometimes, they just happen, so don’t feel bad. Simply get your dog the help they need, and know the two of you will likely return to normal soon.

No one wants their pet to feel pain, and UTIs are not comfortable for our canine companions. Quick diagnosis and treatment are the best ways to help your dog if they have a UTI. Common red flags your dog has a urinary tract infection include bloody urine or straining or whining to pee. If you notice these flags, call the vet. Prompt care can prevent the issue from worsening, such as bladder stones or a fever. Your vet will use a urine sample to diagnose the UTI. Then, treatment can begin, which usually involves antibiotics. As a pet parent, you want to protect your dog from a UTI. The best nonprescription dog food for urinary health is regular kibble — it has all the nutrients your dog needs.

BethAnn Mayer
Beth Ann's work has appeared on healthline.com and parents.com. In her spare time, you can find her running (either marathons…
How to remove tree sap from your dog’s fur and paws
Tree sap and dogs don’t mix well, so here’s the remedy
A woman pets her dog in a field

When you think of sap, you might picture the good things that come of it, like maple syrup. But this sticky substance can have a bad impact on your pet, and you'll need to be the one to take care of it. Sap can get all over your pet in summer, leading to matted fur or even an allergic reaction. If you find your buddy covered in tree extract, you'll have to give them an extra thorough bath, plus a few more steps. Here's how to get sap out of dog fur and paws.

What is sap?

Read more
Can dogs have honey? What you need to know
Here are the facts about dogs and honey
Dog watching honey dripping

Honey may be one of the most popular names for girl dogs, but can these pups taste their namesake? It's only natural to wonder about the safety of human foods for dogs, especially when you don't see or hear about dogs eating honey every day. It's more commonly found in pastries, teas, and plenty of delicious snacks for people, but can dogs have honey, too?
In just a minute, you'll know all you need to know about dogs, honey, and what can happen if you share this sticky treat with your furry friend (besides a mess, that is).

Can dogs have honey?

Read more
Coconut oil for dogs: The pros and cons you need to know
What are the benefits of coconut oil for dogs? It's complicated.
Coconut oil next to a coconut

If you've followed human wellness and nutrition trends over the years, you likely know olive oil is the golden child of oils. Lauded for being a healthy fat that can protect against heart disease, even cardiologists recommend consuming olive oil. Yet, coconut oil has also come into favor recently for health benefits ranging from weight loss to immune system and improving cognitive functioning in people with dementia. Keyword: People.

What are the benefits of coconut oil for dogs? Are there even any? Is coconut oil safe for dogs? These are all excellent questions and ones to ask a vet before giving any human food to a pet, whether you're allowing them to ingest the item or applying something topically. Some foods are toxic to pets, and topical application of some products can exacerbate the issues you want to fix. Where does coconut oil fit in? Here's what we do (and don't) know about coconut oil for dogs.
What is coconut oil?

Read more