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Bladder Infections in Dogs: Symptoms and Treatment

Cystitis is a bacterial infection of the lining of the bladder. Urethral infections in both males and females often precede bouts of cystitis. Other predisposing causes include increasing age, diabetes mellitus, and being on long-term corticosteroid therapy. In sexually intact males there may be a preexisting prostatitis. Dogs who go long periods of time without eliminating have a greater risk of developing bladder infections.

Urinary stones can occur as a result of cystitis. The bacteria form a nidus (a central point) around which the stone develops.

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The principal sign of cystitis is frequent, painful urination. The urine may appear cloudy and have an abnormal odor. Females with cystitis may lick at the vulva and have a vaginal discharge. The diagnosis is confirmed by a urinalysis showing bacteria, white blood cells, and often red blood cells in the urine.

Treatment: Cystitis should be treated promptly to prevent kidney infection. Your veterinarian will prescribe an oral antibiotic that is effective against the bacteria in question. Antibiotics are administered for two to three weeks, after which the urine should be checked again to be sure the infection has been eliminated.

Urinary acidifiers may be used to help prevent bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall. Blackberries and raspberries have compounds called ellagitannins that prevent bacterial adhesions to the bladder wall. Cranberries have a similar action, and all of these berries may help to lower urine pH. A second attack suggests a secondary problem, such as bladder stones, and the need for a veterinary workup. X-rays or an ultrasound may be done at this time. The second attack is treated with antibiotics selected on the basis of culture and sensitivity tests. A follow-up urine culture is obtained one to two months after discontinuing treatment. Chronic forms of cystitis may require the use of urinary antiseptics or long-term antibiotics given at bedtime.

Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate have been shown to help some cats with recurrent urinary infections. These are safe supplements that might help dogs-although so far there is no evidence that they affect urinary tract problems in dogs.

WebMD Veterinary Reference from "Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook"

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