How to Treat Urinary Tract Infection in Dogs

There are an estimated 75 million pet dogs in the United States. Owners spend billions on the care of their beloved pets each year. A loyal dog is like any member of the family. When a family member gets sick, we want to do everything possible to help them. Good veterinary care is a must to provide your dog with a long and healthy life. Home remedies such as turmeric and good nutrition are vital as well. One common ailment that pet owners may have to deal with is urinary tract infections. We’ll take a look at how to treat urinary tract infection in dogs.

What Is a Urinary Tract Infection?

The urinary tract removes waste materials and excess water from the body. The entire tract consists of the kidneys, bladder, the urethra and the ureters. An infection in any part of this system is considered a urinary tract infection. The system is divided into the upper and lower parts, with the lower being the more common area to become infected.

The seriousness of urinary tract infections varies. They range from the mild and easily treatable, to the more serious. This largely depends on the root cause of the infection and how long it is left untreated. If your pet shows signs of an infection, it is important to act quickly.

What Are the Causes?

There are a number of different causes for a urinary tract infection. When you see your dog exhibit symptoms, it is important to take them to a vet right away. This way, the cause can be diagnosed and a proper treatment can be administered. Here are some of the common causes of urinary tract infections:

Bacterial infection

Bacterial infections are the primary cause of urinary tract infections. The bacteria may come from the dog’s environment or from its own feces. The bacteria typically enters the dog’s body through the urethra. From there, it can set up an infection anywhere in the urinary-tract system. If it settles in the bladder, it is known as cystitis. An infection in the kidneys is called pyelonephritis. Though it is more rare, bacteria in the bloodstream may also set up an infection within the urinary tract.

Bacterial infection

Bladder stones

The build up of minerals within the bladder can often lead to bladder stones. The urine in the bladder starts to form crystal structures when the bladder is not completely emptied after urination. These bladder stones may then cause more problems with urination. If the waste cannot be properly expelled from your dog’s body, bacteria will have a longer time frame to grow and cause infections.

Obstruction of the urethra

Anything that obstructs the urethra may lead to a urinary tract infection. Urine is normally a sterile substance, even though it is a waste material leaving the body. A healthy urinary-tract system is self cleaning and normally removes potentially-harmful bacteria. If something prevents your dog from urinating as usual, then bacteria have more time to grow and setup an infection. The most common cause of a blockage is actually bladder stones. If you witness your dog struggling to urinate, this may be a sign of an obstruction.

Incontinence / weak bladder

Incontinence can be a sign or even a symptom of a urinary tract infection. Sometimes a dog will have a weak bladder simply due to old age. With older dogs, they may start losing control of their ability to hold in urine, or they may even have canine cognitive dysfunction. This is when a dog, like many humans, starts to lose memory and can even forget house training. No matter the cause, this behavior may be due to an infection or it can cause one if urine is not moving freely through the urinary tract to remove bacteria.


If your dog has suffered a physical injury, this can lead to problems with the urinary tract. An accident that leads to damage of the bladder, kidneys or other parts of the urinary tract, can impede normal operation and lead to an infection setting in. If your dog is having trouble urinating after an accident, you should seek a veterinarian’s help immediately.


Of all of the potential causes of a urinary tract infection, this one may be the most frightening for a pet owner. One of the most common cancer types that leads to urinary tract problems is bladder cancer. One of the symptoms of this is when your dog seems to be in pain and distress during urination. Blood in the dog’s urine is another possible sign of cancer. These symptoms should be met with immediate medical attention from your family vet.


Stress can cause a number of health problems for your pets. It can lead to a urinary tract infection both directly and indirectly. Being stressed will lower your pet’s immune system and ability to fight off bacteria. Stress can also lead to your dog having strange eating, drinking and bathroom habits, all of which can lead to an infection of the urinary tract. If there has been a change to the environment or a new pet or human addition to the home, these changes can be the cause of stress to a dog. Pay special attention to your pet’s behavior during such changes.

Spinal cord abnormalities

Spinal-cord injuries and operations have been shown to increase the risk of a urinary tract infection in both dogs and humans. If your pet has had this type of injury or a surgery recently, make sure to pay attention to their behavior and frequency of urination.

Prostate disease

Prostate problems can be a potential cause of regular urinary tract infections in dogs. If the prostate is enlarged and pushing on the bladder, it can disrupt the normal urination flow and lead to infections.

Congenital abnormality

Sometimes a pet can be born with an abnormality or hereditary issue that makes it more susceptible to urinary tract infections. If this is the case, it may require a medical procedure or a lifetime of medication and special diets. Such abnormalities can go undetected for years until they cause a health problem later on in a dog’s life.

How Is the Cause Diagnosed?

Before a dog can be diagnosed by a vet, the owner must first recognize a problem. Some of the symptoms of a urinary tract infection in your dog include:

  • Blood in urine
  • Pain while urinating
  • Urinating in the house
  • Low amount of urination
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Obsessive licking in genital region


Your veterinarian will likely take blood and urine samples to test for bacteria. Urinalysis tests will usually reveal a urinary tract infection. In some cases, urine may need to be extracted directly from the bladder through the insertion of a needle.

How to Treat Urinary Tract Infections

The most common treatment prescribed by veterinarians will be some form of antibiotics. If this is your dog’s first infection and if it doesn’t seem to have a serious underlying cause, this will likely be the remedy. Antibiotics are usually prescribed through pills, but may be injected if the infection is really bad. Sometimes a vet may need to see how your pet responds to an antibiotic and then make a change to a different type.

If your pet has a blockage of the urinary tract, it may require surgery to remove the offending material. If bladder stones or tumors are the cause, this may be the prescribed solution. A surgery may also be necessary to correct a congenital abnormality. If your dog has another illness, such as diabetes, causing the infections, this will need to be treated with a separate medication. Dietary changes, more water and urinary acidifiers or alkalinizers may also be used. Regular supplements may be prescribed as a preventative measure to stop future infections.

What Natural Treatments Are Available?

If you are wondering how to treat urinary tract infection in dogs, there are a lot of natural treatments and home remedies. These should always be used along with whatever your vet prescribes. It’s generally a good idea to check with your veterinarian before trying a natural treatment. One of the best things for urinary tract infections is more water. Make sure to keep your pet’s bowl topped off with clean, cool water. Here are a few good home remedies to try:

  • Apple cider vinegar in water
  • Lemon juice in water
  • Grapefruit seed extract
  • Juniper berry extracts
  • Cranberry extracts
  • Berberis vulgaris
  • Marshmallow root
  • Echinacea
  • Goldenrod
  • UVA Ursi
  • Vitamin B
  • Vitamin C
  • Parsley

Turmeric for dogs is another good treatment to try. there have been over 6,000 studies to date that show a number of benefits to giving your dog turmeric as a supplement. You can create a paste or gravy with turmeric to add to your dog’s food or treats. Start with a small does at first and observe how your dog reacts to the turmeric. There are a variety of ways to purchase turmeric in capsules, powdered spice or even in ready-made supplements for your dog.

Turmeric for dogs

One of the benefits of turmeric is that it is a pain reliever. Urinary tract infections cause pain and turmeric can help to lessen the discomfort. It also has anti-inflammatory properties. When infected, the urinary tract becomes inflamed, leading to pain. Not only can the turmeric relieve pain, but by getting rid of the inflammation, it can even treat the source of the pain. Turmeric is even an anti-oxidant and anti-bacterial agent. It can help to negate bacteria that may be the root cause of your dog’s infections. On a side note, it’s also a great treatment for arthritis in older dogs.

What Happens if It Goes Untreated?

Older female dogs and those with diabetes are more susceptible for getting urinary tract infections. If your dog falls into one of these categories, be especially mindful of their behavior and urination patterns. Many dogs may have very little signs of something wrong. This is why routine check ups, good nutrition and hygiene are so important. While urinary tract infections may just run their course, they often must have antibiotics to knock them out. If left unchecked, the inflammation and pain will get worse.

Serious cases of a urinary tract infection can lead to death if not treated properly. There is also the issue of the possible, underlying causes of a urinary tract infection. If your dog has an injury, birth defect, stress-related issue or cancer, these can lead to death in and of themselves. It is always important to have the root cause diagnosed so that you can keep your pets healthy and happy.

How to Prevent Urinary Tract Infection

Now that we’ve covered how to treat urinary tract infection in dogs, let’s take a look at some methods of prevention. A regular turmeric supplement can be a great preventative measure. Turmeric can help in not only preventing urinary tract infections, but may prevent cancer and a whole bunch of other illnesses.

Your dog’s diet should be high in meat and protein. Meat is a good way to keep the urine acidic, which aids in killing bacteria that may cause urinary tract infections. The next thing to think about is how to keep your dog’s immune system going strong. A strong immune system will fight off bacteria and lower the risk of infections. A steady, healthy diet and exercise are good for the immune system. Arthritis prevention through turmeric can also help your dog to fully empty his or her bladder every time they go.

Make sure that your dog leads a stress-free life, as much as possible. Keeping your dog on a routine is one way to reduce stress. Pay special attention to your canine friend during times of change in the house. Keep your dog well hydrated. A constant source of clean, fresh water is important in preventing urinary tract problems. Bathe your dog regularly and keep the area around the external urethra clean. This will prevent bacteria from entering into the urinary tract system.


Every good pet owner wants their beloved dog to live a long and healthy life. Paying close attention to your dog’s eating, drinking and bathroom habits is a good way to catch potential problems early. A good pet owner will know their dog’s typical personality and behavior. If something seems off, it might be a good time for a visit to your vet. By following good hygiene and dietary guidelines, many potential illnesses can be avoided.

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