What Is A Bladder Infection And What Is The Cause?
Infection in the lining of the bladder, often known as cystitis, occurs in both male and female dogs. An infection can take place when bacteria finds its way into the upper portion of the urethra and/ or into the bladder and colonizes there. When the local defenses in those areas, which would normally keep infections away, become impaired, the bacteria cause an infection.
A full blown bladder infection is often preceded by urethral infections. There are certain factors that make dogs more susceptible to getting bladder infections. These factors include increasing age, long time exposure to corticosteroid therapy and diabetes mellitus. Bladder infections can often be associated with pre-existing prostatitis in male dogs who have not been neutered.
Female dogs are much more susceptible to lower urinary tract infections than male dogs. Also dogs who are prone to go long periods of time without eliminating are at higher risk of developing UTI’s and bladder infections. When left untreated for long periods of time, bladder infections can result in urinary stones. If neglected, a bladder infection can also lead to kidney infection. Prostate diseases and tumors are often seen in older dogs that have chronic bladder infections.
Infections that occur in the lower half of the urinary tract are most often caused by three common bacteria. These are Staphylococcus, E. coli and Proteus spp. These bacteria are responsible for more than half of the lower urinary tract infections. Other bactera that are not as common can include Enterobacter, Streptococcus, Pseudomonas, Klebsiella, and Corynebacterium spp.
Signs And Symptoms
There are multiple symptoms that can indicate a bladder infection but the primary sign is frequent urination that is difficult and accompanied by a lot of pain. If your dog is vocalizing or crying when they attempt to eliminate, it is a good idea to take them to your vet for an exam.
Other signs in the urine that can signal infection are blood or a cloudy appearance. An infection can also cause an abnormally foul smell in the urine.
Not all dogs display signs of lower urinary tract infection. However, most usually will. In female dogs, a common sign of infection may be excessive licking of the vulva and or vaginal discharge.
A sign that your dog may be having trouble urinating is if they go frequently but only eliminate a small amount each time. It is also possible that an infection can cause urinary incontinence, especially when your dog is confined or even in places that they are not accustomed to and would not normally urinate in voluntarily.
A less common sign is involuntary leakage when the bladder is touched.
If any of these signs become noticeable in your dog, the best step to take is making a visit to the vet for a urinalysis. This will reveal any bacteria, blood or white blood cells in the urine and will confirm whether or not your dog has an infection. It is also possible to have x-rays done as well as ultrasonography of the lower urinary tract to detect whether or not any stones have formed due to the infection. Any other abnormal lesions will also be detected through these means.
X-rays and ultrasonography are most often done following a second attack that occurs despite proper treatment the first time around. If a second round of infection persists, it can often suggest that there may be other issues like bladder stones.
Be prepared for your vet to also request a complete history of your dog’s health. This will include when the symptoms set in and what they were like in nature. Your vet will likely perform a thorough workup and examination of your dog’s physical state along with the urinalysis, biochemistry profile and a CBC, also known as a complete blood count. It is possible for the biochemistry profile and CBC results to show nothing abnormal, but the urinalysis will be crucial for determining a proper diagnosis.
Once an infection is diagnosed, the next step is treatment. Your vet will likely prescribe an oral antibiotic that is to be administered to your dog for two to three weeks. It is very important that antibiotics be administered consistently and for the entire length of time that they are prescribed. Once the antibiotic regimen is complete, a second urinalysis should be done to ensure that all signs of bacteria and infection have been eliminated.
Recovery without complication is common for most dogs through the use of the proper antibiotic. However, identifying and treating the problem quickly is vital to the overall health and well being of your pet. Severe complications in not only the kidneys, but also other areas including the heart, can occur if a bladder infection is not caught early on and treated properly and thoroughly.
If the infection returns for a second round, your vet may prescribe another round of antibiotics, either different or with a more prolonged treatment period. Also, culture and sensitivity tests may be done the second time around to better match and select an antibiotic for killing the infection. Chronic infections are often treated with urinary antiseptics or antibiotics that are designed for long term use and are administered every night before your dog goes to sleep.
Your vet may also prescribe urinary acidifiers. These are effective to prevent unwelcome bacteria from attaching to the bladder wall.
Homeopathic and Home Remedies
Although antibiotics are a common go to for treating bladder infections and UTIs, there are home remedies and homeopathic alternatives that can be used. These can not only be effective but much easier on your pocket book than a trip to the vet and costly prescription medicines.
Antibiotics can also cause unwanted side effects and many prefer to try natural methods for clearing up an infection before resorting to the antibiotics.
Certain berries have ellagitannins, compounds that provide the same effect as urinary acidifers by preventing bacteria from adhering to the wall of the bladder.
These include blackberries and raspberries. Cranberries create a similar effect. All of these berries are also useful for helping to lower in the pH in urine.
Juniper berry is an herb that helps the kidney to filter out impurities more quickly. As a result it increases urine production and can help to clear up a severe tract infection. Another herb that works as a diuretic and helps to increase the elimination of waste is the Parsley leaf. It is also very high in nutrition and works as an antiseptic.
As far as natural astringents go, one of the most powerful herbs available is the Uva Ursi leaf. It is used very often by holistic veterinarians for the purpose of attacking many different pathogens that are the roots causes of urinary tract infections. It is effective for stopping bleeding and minimizing inflammation that occurs with bladder infections.
For soothing inflammation in the urinary tract, use marshmallow root. It helps to boost the immune system and fights off the bacteria that are responsible for causing the infections. It is also effective for reducing irritation and providing some relief for the body.
Supplementing your dog’s diet with antioxidants and extra B vitamins when they are stressed, along with adding cooling foods like raw veggies and fruits and yogurts can help to reduce symptoms associated with bladder infections.
Although the above remedies are very useful and can be extremely effective, keep in mind that bladder infections can be very serious and dangerous. If severe symptoms persist, a trip to the vet is the best option.