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Painful Urination in Dogs

Painful urination in dogs can be a life-threatening emergency that needs immediate veterinary care, or it can be the result of an infection, easily treated with antibiotics.

To keep your dog in good health, it helps to understand what might cause painful urination in your dog and to know when you should see the vet right away.

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Signs of Painful Urination in Dogs

Signs that your dog is in pain when passing urine include: 

  • Straining
  • Vocalizing while trying to urinate
  • Avoiding your touch
  • Peeing more often while producing only a little urine
  • Urine with blood or mucus in it

You'll need to take your dog to the vet immediately if your pet produces only a few drops of urine -- or none -- when he or she tries to urinate. Don't wait: being unable to urinate can quickly result in serious illness for your dog or even death.

Painful Urination in Dogs: Common Causes and Treatments

A few of the more common causes of painful urination in dogs include:

Bladder Infection

While your dog's bladder is normally a sterile place, sometimes bacteria can climb from the genital area into the bladder, leading to infection and inflammation. Symptoms of a bladder infection can include painful urination, urinating only a little bit at a time, incontinence (unable to hold urine in), bloody urine, or urinating often. Some dogs show no symptoms at all.

Treatment for simple bladder infections is usually 10-14 days of antibiotics, with symptom improvement often within the first few days. Sometimes the urine is cultured to determine which antibiotic will work best. To prevent a relapse, always be sure your dog completes the entire course of antibiotics your vet prescribed.

Bladder Crystals and Bladder Stones

Sometimes the naturally occurring minerals in your dog's urine can clump together, forming crystals or stones. Many things can cause the minerals to clump, including an infection, medication, genetics, diet, how often your dog urinates, and how much water he drinks.

Symptoms of urinary stones can vary depending on whether they're in the kidneys, ureters, bladder, or urethra, but signs may include slow and painful urination, inability to urinate, bloody urine, vomiting, fatigue, as well as abdominal or kidney pain.

Treating bladder stones depends on where they're located and may include medication, surgery, or a change in diet. Treatment may also involve antibiotics if the crystals or stones are the result of an infection.

Prostate Problems

There are several reasons for an enlarged prostate in dogs, including tumors, cysts, and infection.

Symptoms of prostate problems may include straining to urinate, blood in the urine, and incontinence. If the enlargement is caused by infection, signs may also involve drinking more water and needing to urinate more often. Treating an enlarged prostate depends on its cause.

There are other, less common causes of painful urinary problems in dogs, including tumors in the bladder or urethra, scar tissue development, a fractured penis (rare), or trauma, for example, from a car accident.

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