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Urinary Tract Infection in Dogs – Signs, Causes, Treatment



Reviewed By: Dr. Joel Robertson

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Urinary tract infection (UTI) in dogs is a common problem that can cause discomfort and distress to our beloved canine companions.

While UTIs are easy to diagnose, preventing them from occurring in the first place is key.

This blog post will provide an overview of what causes UTIs in dogs, symptoms to look out for, possible treatments, and preventive measures that pet owners can take.

This article contains:

Key Takeaway

  • A urinary tract infection in dogs is a bacterial infection that affects any part of the dog’s urinary system, including the kidneys, bladder, ureters, or urethra.
  • Signs and symptoms of urinary tract infections in dogs include frequent urination, straining or whimpering during urination, excessive licking of the urinary opening, accidents in the house, strong odor to the urine, increased thirst, lethargy, fever, and blood in the urine.
  • Urinary tract infections in dogs are primarily caused by bacteria, most commonly Escherichia coli, that enter the urinary tract from the external environment and can also be caused by factors such as urinary stones, bladder inflammation, or a weak bladder.

What Is Urinary Tract Infection In Dogs?

Urinary Tract Infection in Dogs - Signs, Causes, Treatment

Urinary tract infection (UTI) in dogs is a condition where bacteria invade and multiply in the urinary system, causing inflammation and discomfort.

UTIs in dogs are typically caused by bacteria that enter the urethra and ascend into the bladder, although other factors such as bladder stones, tumors, or abnormalities in the urinary tract can also contribute.

Once inside the bladder, these bacteria can proliferate and cause an infection, leading to symptoms such as frequent urination, straining or crying out during urination, blood in the urine, strong-smelling urine, and sometimes fever or lethargy.

UTIs can be painful and uncomfortable for your pet, and if left untreated, they can lead to more serious problems like kidney infections.

Signs and Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infection in Dogs

The signs and symptoms of urinary tract infection in dogs often involve changes in urination habits and visible discomfort during urination.

Frequent Urination

Frequent urination is a common symptom of UTI in dogs. You may notice your dog needing to go outside more often than usual, or having accidents inside the house. This happens because the inflammation caused by the infection makes the dog feel like they constantly need to empty their bladder.

Difficulty Urinating

Difficulty or straining during urination is another sign of a UTI. Your dog may take longer than usual to urinate, appear uncomfortable while doing so, or may even cry out in pain. This is due to the irritation and inflammation in the urinary tract caused by the infection.

Blood in the Urine

Blood in the urine, or hematuria, is a symptom that should never be ignored. It can indicate a serious infection or other medical condition. The presence of blood can make the urine look darker or reddish.

Strong-Smelling Urine

A strong, unpleasant smell from your dog’s urine could also be a sign of a UTI. The bacteria causing the infection can change the smell of the urine, making it noticeably different and typically stronger than usual.

Lethargy or Fever

In some cases, a dog with a UTI may show signs of general unwellness such as lethargy or fever. These are signs that the body is fighting off an infection and may indicate that the UTI is severe or has spread to other parts of the urinary system.

Causes of Urinary Tract Infections in Dogs

Urinary tract infections in dogs are typically caused by bacteria entering the urinary system, but there can be other contributing factors such as bladder stones, anatomical abnormalities, or underlying health conditions.

Bacterial Infection

The most common cause of urinary tract infections in dogs is bacterial infection. Typically, bacteria enter through the urethra and ascend into the bladder where they multiply and cause an infection. These bacteria can come from various sources including contaminated water, feces, or unclean surfaces.

Bladder Stones

Bladder stones are another cause of UTIs in dogs. These are hard buildups of minerals that form in the bladder. They can cause irritation and inflammation which can pave the way for a bacterial infection.

Additionally, they can block the urinary tract, making it difficult for your dog to urinate and creating a conducive environment for bacteria to grow.

Anatomical Abnormalities

Some dogs may have anatomical abnormalities in their urinary system that make them more prone to UTIs.

This could include a shortened urethra, which makes it easier for bacteria to reach the bladder, or abnormalities that prevent the bladder from fully emptying, allowing urine to stagnate and bacteria to multiply.

Underlying Health Conditions

Underlying health conditions such as diabetes, Cushing’s disease, or kidney disease can also contribute to UTIs in dogs. These conditions can weaken the dog’s immune system, making it harder for them to fight off bacterial infections.


Stress can impact a dog’s immune system, making it harder for them to fight off infections, including UTIs.


Physical trauma to the lower urinary tract can damage the lining of the bladder or urethra, making it easier for bacteria to adhere and cause an infection.

Prostate Disease

In male dogs, prostate disease can contribute to the development of UTIs. An enlarged prostate can cause difficulties with urination, leading to an increased risk of infection.

Congenital Abnormality

Congenital abnormalities in the structure of a dog’s urinary tract can make it easier for bacteria to enter and multiply, leading to a UTI.

Spinal Cord Abnormalities

Spinal cord abnormalities can interfere with a dog’s ability to urinate properly, leading to urine retention and increased risk of UTIs.


Cancer in the urinary tract can cause changes in urinary habits and potentially lead to recurrent UTIs.

How is an Urinary Tract Infection in Dogs Diagnosed?

Urinary tract infections in dogs are diagnosed through a combination of clinical signs, urinalysis, and sometimes additional diagnostic testing.

Clinical Signs

The initial step in diagnosing a UTI in a dog is observing the clinical signs. These can include frequent urination, difficulty urinating, blood in the urine, strong-smelling urine, or general signs of illness like lethargy or fever.

The veterinarian will also take into account the dog’s medical history.


A urinalysis is a key diagnostic tool for UTIs in dogs. This test involves collecting a urine sample and analyzing it for the presence of bacteria, white blood cells, and other substances that may indicate an infection.

In many cases, a technique called cystocentesis is used to collect the sample. This involves inserting a needle directly into the bladder to obtain a sterile urine sample.

Urine Culture

In some cases, a urine culture may be performed. This is considered the gold standard for diagnosing UTIs. A urine culture involves growing bacteria from the urine sample in a lab to determine the type of bacteria and their sensitivity to various antibiotics.

Additional Diagnostic Testing

If the cause of the UTI is not clear, or if the dog has recurrent UTIs, additional diagnostic testing may be needed. This could include blood tests, imaging studies like an ultrasound or X-ray to check for bladder stones or anatomical abnormalities, or measuring blood pressure.

What is a Urinalysis and What Does It Look At?

A urinalysis is a diagnostic test that examines the physical, chemical, and microscopic properties of urine to aid in detecting and managing a wide range of diseases.

In more detail, a urinalysis involves multiple examinations to evaluate different aspects of urine. The first part of a urinalysis is the physical examination which looks at the color, clarity, and concentration of the urine.

This can provide clues about possible diseases or conditions. For instance, dark-colored urine might indicate dehydration while cloudy urine could suggest an infection.

Following the physical examination is the chemical analysis. This uses a special dipstick that changes color in response to various substances in the urine such as glucose, protein, and red and white blood cells.

An abnormal result in the chemical analysis can be indicative of several conditions, including kidney disease, diabetes, or a urinary tract infection.

Treatment For Urinary Tract Infections in Dogs

The treatment for urinary tract infections (UTIs) in dogs typically involves the use of antibiotics, pain management, dietary modifications, and in some cases, surgery.


Antibiotics are often the first line of treatment for UTIs in dogs. The specific antibiotic prescribed can vary depending on the results of urine testing to ensure the most effective medication is used. Commonly used antibiotics include Enrofloxacin, Orbifloxacin, Marbofloxacin, and Amoxicillin.

Pain Management

Managing a dog’s discomfort during a UTI is an important aspect of treatment. This can involve medications to alleviate pain and inflammation associated with the infection.

Dietary Modifications

Dietary changes can also be part of the treatment plan for a UTI in dogs. Increased water intake can help flush bacteria out of the urinary system. In addition, certain foods can affect the pH of the urine, which can help prevent the growth of bacteria.


In severe cases or when the UTI is caused by structural abnormalities or stones, surgery may be required. This could involve removing stones from the bladder or urethra, or correcting any physical anomalies contributing to the infection.

Natural Remedies

While not a replacement for veterinary care, some natural remedies like cranberries have been used to support urinary health in dogs. Always consult with a vet before starting any natural treatment.

Is There a Cure For Urinary Tract Infections in Dogs?

Yes, there is a cure for urinary tract infections (UTIs) in dogs, typically involving a course of antibiotics prescribed by a vet, along with other supportive treatments such as dietary changes and increased water intake.

Urinary tract infections in dogs are commonly caused by bacteria, and thus, the primary treatment is a course of antibiotics.

These antibiotics are chosen based on urine testing results to ensure they are effective against the specific type of bacteria causing the infection.

The course usually lasts between 7 to 14 days, and noticeable improvements should occur within a few days of starting treatment.

In addition to antibiotics, dietary changes can also be beneficial. Some foods can affect the pH of the dog’s urine, making it less conducive to bacterial growth.

Increasing the dog’s water intake can also help by flushing out bacteria from the urinary system.

Are Urinary Tract Infections in Dogs Contagious?

No, urinary tract infections (UTIs) in dogs are not contagious to other animals or people.

Urinary tract infections in dogs are typically caused by bacteria that have entered the urinary tract, often through the urethra and then moved into the bladder.

These bacteria are usually not spread from one animal to another or between animals and people. Therefore, if one of your dogs has a UTI, there’s no need to quarantine them from your other pets or worry about catching the infection yourself.

However, it’s important to note that while the UTI itself is not contagious, the bacteria causing the UTI could potentially be spread in some situations.

For instance, if a healthy dog were to come into direct contact with the urine of an infected dog, there’s a small chance they could also develop a UTI. But this is extremely unlikely under normal circumstances.

In rare cases, some research suggests that pets might be a source of certain bacteria, like E. coli, which can lead to UTIs in humans. However, this usually requires close and prolonged contact, and is not the typical way that UTIs are contracted.

What is The Cost of Treating an Urinary Tract Infection in Dogs?

The cost of treating a urinary tract infection (UTI) in dogs typically ranges from $100 to $200 for an uncomplicated case, but it can exceed $1,500 if complications or other conditions are involved.

The total cost of treating a UTI in a dog can vary based on several factors such as the severity of the infection, the type of treatment required, and the geographical location.

The general costs usually involve an examination fee, which can range from $45 to $65. Testing and collection for urinalysis can cost between $75 and $95, while a urine culture can cost between $170 and $200.

In terms of medication, the antibiotics typically used for treating UTIs in dogs can cost anywhere from $25 to $50, depending on the size of the pet and the specific type of antibiotic. A single antibiotic capsule can range from $0.39 to $3.00, with brand-name drugs usually being more expensive than their generic counterparts.

If the UTI is complicated by other conditions or requires surgery, the cost can significantly increase, potentially exceeding $1,500. Moreover, if the dog has recurrent UTIs, additional costs for preventive care or long-term management may be incurred.

Natural remedies for UTIs, such as herbal treatments and supplements, are generally less expensive, costing anywhere from $10 to $30. However, these should only be used under the guidance of a vet and are not a replacement for conventional treatments.

Recovery and Management of Urinary Tract Infections in Dogs

  • UTIs in dogs are typically treated with antibiotics. The specific antibiotic is chosen based on urine testing results to effectively target the bacteria causing the infection.
  • Pain medications and probiotics may also be part of the treatment plan to manage discomfort and support gut health.
  • In severe cases, supportive therapy such as intravenous fluids and hospitalization may be required.
  • Treatment duration can vary, but a course of antibiotics is usually prescribed for seven to 14 days.
  • Post-treatment, rechecking the urine tests is important to ensure the infection is truly gone. Some dogs might need antibiotics for a longer period than initially prescribed.
  • If a dog’s UTI is caused by a bacterial infection, a round of antibiotics will be prescribed.
  • Dietary changes might be recommended, particularly if the UTI is recurring. This could involve altering the pH of the dog’s urine to make it less conducive to bacterial growth.
  • Increasing water intake can help flush out bacteria from the urinary system.
  • If UTIs occur only once or twice yearly, each episode may be treated as an acute, uncomplicated UTI. However, if episodes occur more frequently, additional preventive measures or long-term management strategies may be needed.
  • In some cases, surgery might be necessary, especially if the UTI is caused by physical abnormalities or stones in the urinary tract.
  • Most UTIs are successfully treated with commonly used drugs, dosages, and administration intervals, though treatment can be challenging when other conditions are present.

What Can Happen if a Dog’s Urinary Tract Problems Go Untreated?

If a dog’s urinary tract problems go untreated, it can lead to serious health complications such as kidney damage, bladder stones, or life-threatening conditions like sepsis.

Urinary tract problems in dogs are not just uncomfortable for the pet, but they can also lead to more serious health issues if left untreated. One of the major risks is kidney damage.

The bacteria causing the urinary tract infection can travel up the urinary tract into the kidneys, resulting in a kidney infection called pyelonephritis. This can cause permanent damage to the kidneys and impair their function, which can be life-threatening.

Another potential complication of untreated urinary tract problems is the formation of bladder stones.

These are hard accumulations of minerals and other substances that can cause pain, blockages in the urinary tract, and further infections. In severe cases, surgery might be required to remove the stones.

In extreme cases, if the bacterial infection spreads from the urinary tract to the rest of the body, it can cause a systemic infection known as sepsis. Sepsis is a medical emergency that can lead to organ failure and death if not treated promptly.

Preventing Urinary Tract Infections In Dogs

Preventing urinary tract infections (UTIs) in dogs involves regular vet check-ups, maintaining hydration, a balanced diet, and proper hygiene.

Regular Vet Check-Ups

Regular veterinary check-ups are essential for preventing UTIs in dogs. A vet can perform a physical examination and run diagnostic tests to detect any potential issues early before they develop into a full-blown infection. This can include urine tests, blood tests, and ultrasound imaging.

Maintain Hydration

Keeping your dog well-hydrated is another key preventative measure. Adequate water intake helps to flush out bacteria from the urinary system, reducing the chance of an infection setting in. Always ensure that your dog has access to fresh, clean water throughout the day.

Balanced Diet

A balanced diet can also play a role in preventing UTIs. Some foods can help maintain a healthy urinary pH balance and prevent the formation of bladder stones, which can lead to UTIs. Your vet can provide guidance on the best diet for your dog’s specific needs.

Proper Hygiene

Maintaining proper hygiene can also help prevent UTIs. This includes regular bathing and grooming to keep the genital area clean and free from bacteria. For female dogs, cleaning the area after urination can be particularly beneficial.

Regular Exercise

Regular exercise can help promote a healthy urinary system. Physical activity encourages regular urination, which can help flush bacteria out of the system.

Prompt Attention to Urination Problems

If you notice any changes in your dog’s urination habits, such as frequent urination, difficulty urinating, or blood in the urine, it’s important to seek veterinary attention promptly. Early detection and treatment can prevent a minor issue from becoming a serious infection.

What Can You Give a Dog For an Urinary Tract Infection?

For a urinary tract infection (UTI) in dogs, the following treatments are typically provided:

  • Antibiotics: The most common treatment for UTIs in dogs is antibiotics. The specific type of antibiotic used will depend on the bacteria causing the infection.
  • Pain Relief Medication: To manage discomfort and inflammation, your vet may prescribe pain relief medication.
  • Probiotics: Probiotics can help restore the balance of good bacteria in your dog’s digestive system, which can be disrupted by antibiotics.
  • Increased Fluids: Encouraging your dog to drink more water can help flush bacteria out of the urinary system.
  • Dietary Changes: In some cases, dietary changes may be recommended to alter the pH of your dog’s urine, making it less conducive to bacterial growth.
  • Urinary Acidifiers or Alkalinizers: Depending on the nature of the UTI, your vet might prescribe urinary acidifiers or alkalinizers to help manage the infection.

Can a Dog’s Urinary Tract Infection Go Away On Its Own?

A dog’s urinary tract infection (UTI) is unlikely to go away on its own and typically requires veterinary treatment.

Urinary tract infections in dogs are typically caused by bacteria and, just like in humans, these infections often require antibiotic treatment to clear up.

If left untreated, the UTI might not only persist but could also worsen, leading to more serious health complications such as:

  • Kidney infections
  • Bladder stones
  • Sepsis

How Much Does a Dog UTI Test Cost?

The cost of a dog UTI (Urinary Tract Infection) test, or urinalysis, typically ranges from $40 to $100, not including the additional examination fee at the vet’s office.

The price of a dog UTI test can vary based on several factors, such as location, the specific veterinary clinic, and whether additional tests are required.

Generally, a standard urinalysis test can cost anywhere from $40 to $70. However, if the test is combined with other diagnostic procedures, the total cost can increase by $25 to $100.

Home Remedies For Urinary Tract Infections In Dogs

Home remedies for urinary tract infections in dogs include increasing water intake, using cranberries, apple cider vinegar, marshmallow root, and citrus juice.

Increase Water Intake

Encouraging your dog to drink more water can help flush bacteria out of the urinary tract before they have time to adhere and cause an infection. It’s important to make sure your dog always has access to fresh, clean water.


Cranberries are a well-known natural remedy for UTIs in both humans and dogs. They contain properties that prevent bacteria from sticking to the walls of the bladder, helping to eliminate the bacteria that cause UTIs. You can give your dog cranberry juice or cranberry supplements designed for dogs.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is another excellent natural remedy for UTIs in dogs. Its antiseptic properties can kill bacteria, aiding in the treatment of the infection. For small dogs, it’s recommended to add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to their water or food daily.

Marshmallow Root

Marshmallow root, also known as Althaea officinalis, is a natural home remedy for dog bladder infections. It can be used in tincture or glycerite form, with a dosage of 0.5 to 1.5 ml depending on the size of your dog.

Citrus Juice

Citrus juice, such as orange or lemon juice, can also help treat UTIs in dogs. Giving your dog 1-3 teaspoons of all-natural, not-from-concentrate citrus juice can help fight off the infection.


Q: How can I tell if my dog has a UTI or something else?

A: If your dog is showing any of the symptoms, it is important to go to a vet for a proper diagnosis. A veterinarian will be able to perform urine tests and physical examinations to determine if it is a UTI or another underlying condition.

Q: What causes bladder infections in dogs?

A: Bladder infections in dogs are usually caused by bacteria entering the urinary system. This can happen due to various reasons such as poor hygiene, underlying health conditions, weakened immune system, or anatomical abnormalities.

Q: Are UTIs common in dogs?

A: Yes, UTIs are fairly common in dogs. Female dogs are more prone to UTIs due to their shorter urethra, but male dogs can also develop UTIs. It is important to provide proper veterinary care to prevent UTIs and ensure prompt treatment if they do occur.

Q: Can UTIs in dogs go untreated?

A: If left untreated, UTIs in dogs can lead to more serious complications such as kidney infection or bladder stones. It is important to seek veterinary care and follow the prescribed treatment to prevent further health issues.

Q: Are UTIs in dogs similar to UTIs in humans?

A: While there are similarities, UTIs in dogs and humans can have some differences in symptoms and treatment. However, both can be caused by bacterial infections and require medical attention for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Conclusion and final thoughts

Urinary Tract Infection in Dogs is a serious condition that can cause pain and discomfort for your canine companion.

If you suspect your dog may have UTI, it’s important to take them to the vet as soon as possible.

There are several treatments available depending on the severity of the infection. So, early diagnosis and treatment will help ensure your dog will have the best outcomes.

Please take the time and leave a comment below if this article helped you, or you have any additional questions.

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