Urinary problems are also referred to as canine urinary incontinence. Unless your dog had a severe injury or is suffering from kidney failure, in most cases urinary problems do not require emergency treatment. That said, every case is different, so be sure to call your veterinarian if concerned.
Symptoms and Causes
There are several symptoms which could be interpreted as a urinary problem. These include:
- Behavioral Problems
- Unusual thirst (polydipsia)
- Skin issues in the vaginal area
- Blood in the urine (haematuria)
(lack of urine control)
In younger dogs, when these types of symptoms are observed, 64% have a urinary tract infection. If you dog has an infection, then other problems could occur such as the formation of bladder stones, issues with the bladder wall, kidney problems (pyelonephritis) and a bacterial infection in the blood (sepsis).
If your dog is experiencing pain when urinating or having difficulty, one of the following may be the cause:
- Mineral buildup in the urethra (Urethral calculus)
- Disease of the prostate (prostatic disease)
- Abnormal cell growth at the neck of the bladder (Bladder neck neoplasia)
- Nervous system problems
- Injury to the urethra (tube that carries urine from the body)
- Abnormal cell growth (neoplasia) in the urethra
- Infection in the urethra causing inflammation (Urethritis)
- Bladder that is out of place
- Pressure on the bladder
- Pressure on the urethra
- Muscle issues (Dyssynergia)
To test for the presence of infection your veterinarian will take a urine sample in the office via a catheter which is inserted directly into the bladder. This is the only way to get a clean sample. If bacteria grows in the sample, it confirms the presence of bacterial infection.
Urinalysis, which is a lab test of the urine, will also show other abnormalities such as the level of urea, PH level and the presence of crystals, the building blocks of stones.
If your veterinarian suspects a structural problem then a test called an endoscopy will be used to look inside your dog with a small camera. These types of problems may require surgical correction.
Treatment of Urinary Problems
Treatment for your dog urinary problem depends of course on the cause. Many conditions have both a treatment option using medications and/or surgery.
Urethral Sphincter Mechanism Incompetence (USMI): Problem that causes incontinence in female dogs. Medications exist which help with this condition. One of the most common is ephedrine which works is 90% of dogs. Treatment can last years. Others are Phenylpropanolamine and estriol (estrogen).
A surgical procedure called urethral sling procedures is used when medications don't. This works for approximately 75% of female dogs
Incontinence: If the cause of urine leaking or urine control is behavioral such as nervousness or hyperactivity, then a medication called Imipramine could help.
If the incontinence is resistant to treatment (called refractory urinary incontinence), then the medication class called gonadotropins may help.
If medications do not work, then your veterinarian may recommend an injection of collagen into the tissue (endoscopic treatment) which makes up the urethra (the tube which carries urine from the bladder to outside the body). This approach can work in approximately 60% of cases and is used as an alternative to surgical approaches.
Surgery for Female Dogs with Incontinence:
A surgical procedure called Colposuspension is used with female dogs when medications do not. Most dogs tolerate the procedure well with only 12% have a problem with painful urination (dysuria) and even fewer with slow urination (strangury).
Another approach, cystourethropexy, is where the surgeon attaches the bladder to the wall of the abdomen. This procedure is usually used after others are tried since it has a lower success rate.
Surgery for Male Dogs with Incontinence:
Treatment approaches for male dogs tend not be be as effective as those for female dogs. A surgical procedure called vasopexy is used as it works in approximately 1/5 to 1/3 of cases.
Treatment for canine urethral calculi (mineral deposits)
Your veterinarian will try and flush the minerals and any stones that may have formed from the body (retrograde hydropropulsion). If flushing doesn't work then a surgical procedure called a urethrotomy, which is an incision into the urethra.
Dog Urinary Tract Infection
If canine urinary tract infection is the problem, then antibiotics can be used to treat the problem. Dogs that are getting an infection for the first time and are easily cured, can probably prevent reoccurrence by keeping your dog clean and possibly adding a homeopathic remedy to the diet such as PetAlive UTI-Free Formula.
If the problems recur, then other causes that could have been triggered infection such as bladder stones need to be explored. Depending on the type of stone, they can either be dissolved through diet (struvite stones) or surgery (oxalate stones).