Common Causes of Recurring Urinary Tract Infections in Dogs

Recurrent urinary tract infections (UTI’s) are no fun. The frustrated dog licks and urinates frequently in a vain attempt to ease the pain. They often keep their family members awake all night, begging to go outside. Worse yet, the dog has accidents in the house. The family comes into my exam room frustrated because the infection came back. Here are some common and uncommon causes of recurring urinary tract infections: (please note that UTI’s are more common in females due to the increased diameter and shorter length of the urethra as compared to males.)

1) Using the wrong antibiotic the first time. To save money, some people choose to skip performing a culture and sensitivity of the dog’s urine. Without this vital information, the veterinarian is left guessing which antibiotic to use.
2) Treating for too short a time. Unfortunately, some bacteria such as E. coli are difficult to get rid of and may require several weeks of therapy.
3) Failure to follow instructions. Once the dog feels better, some people stop giving the antibiotics. This may lead to antibiotic resistance.
4) Urinary stones that irritate the protective lining of the urinary system, making it less effective at repelling bacteria. The stones also offer bacteria a place to hide from contact with the antibiotic.
5) Diverticulum of the bladder wall. A diverticulum is an out pocketing in the bladder. Urine tends to stagnate in these pockets.
6) Abnormal anatomy including ectopic ureters (the ureters empty into the urethra instead of the bladder leading to incontinence), pelvic bladder (bladder is in the wrong location leading to urine pooling) and deep set or hooded vulva.
7) Uncontrolled diabetes. The sugar released into the urine provides energy for the bacteria.
8) Dilute urine. Common causes include kidney disease, diuretic therapy for heart disease, hyperadrenalcorticism (Cushings Disease) and excessive salt in the diet.
9) Immunosuppressive therapy
10) Vaginitis.
11) Incontinence

Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.