There are many different causes of urinary tract problems in dogs, both male and female. Some are caused by painful and irritating bladder and kidney infections and problems while others are caused by disease or even medications reacting on the urinary tract. The good news is that most urinary tract problems in dogs can be treated with a bit of management and common sense, as well as careful monitoring and regular vet check ups if you have any concerns.
The first and most important point to consider is that excessive urination is a sign of many different types of problems ranging from distemper to diabetes and even to marking behaviors that are hormonally driven. Since true urinary tract problems are not behavioral but are either caused by a disease, injury or congenital problem the hormonal problems with urination will not be discussed in this article.
One of the first signs of a urinary tract problem is frequent urination. In some cases blood will be present in the urine or there will be a noticeably foul or strong smell. This is typically a sign of a severe type of infection, either in the urinary tract, bladder, or the kidneys. Any signs of blood or pus in the urine should immediately result in a trip to the vet. Try to keep your dog from urinating just before you go and provide him or her lots of water as the vet will want to take a urine sample. Do not delay in getting your dog to the vet as a severe infection or stoppage of kidney function can be fatal in a very short period of time.
In most urinary tract infections females will be more prone to problems than males. Overweight females that have excess skin and fat by the external opening of the urinary tract will be more likely to get infections as the urine is trapped in this area leading to bacterial growth and infections. Keeping the external genital area clean is important, as is watching for signs of excessive licking of the area that can be a key indicator that the dog is having problems.
Bladder and kidney stones are also a problem in dogs that can be noted by painful straining to urinate, blood in the urine and general poor health. Urolithiasis or cystinuria are the common medical terms for the condition. Stones are most commonly a problem in males where they become lodged in the narrow urine tract in the penis, resulting in serious and even fatal stoppages and blocks. Immediate treatment that may include surgery to remove the stones is usually required followed by special diets and medications to prevent the formation of crystals in the urine.
Occasionally dogs will be prescribed medications for one ailment or condition that will cause problems in urine retention or production of excessive urine. If this is a concern or if you notice that your dog's urination habits have changed since starting a new medication be sure to communicate your concerns to your vet as soon as possible.