Causes of UTI in Dogs and Cats

Causes of UTI in Dogs and Cats
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Urinary tract infections are caused by bacteria that can be brought on by a number of various health conditions. Learn more here.

In both dogs and cats, urinary tract infections are most commonly caused by bacteria that gathers around your pet’s urethral opening and moves into the urinary tract and bladder when your pet’s natural defenses are down. Escherichia coli, or E. coli, is the bacteria most often responsible for causing urinary tract infections. There are many strains of E. coli and most are harmless. However, when a virulent strain enters your pet’s urinary tract, it can result in a painful infection. Other bacterias as well as some fungi and algae can also cause UTIs, though these cases are less common.

There are a number of health conditions and lifestyle factors that can contribute to the development of a UTI. Pets with certain health risks should be closely monitored so that an infection can be detected and treated as soon as possible. Your pet’s diet, water intake, and urination habits can also impact urinary tract health, so make sure that your pet is eating veterinarian-approved foods, drinking plenty of water, and urinating regularly to expel bacteria from the urinary tract.

At-Risk Conditions

Some health conditions make it easier for bacteria to build up in the urinary tracts of both dogs and cats. These conditions include bladder cancer, bladder tumor, kidney stones, bladder stones, debris caught in the urinary tract, injury, spinal cord abnormalities, incontinence from excessive drinking or weak bladder, stress, congenital (or inborn) abnormalities, diabetes, or other urinary tract dysfunction. In dogs, prostate disease may also contribute to frequent UTIs. If your pet suffers from one of these conditions, your veterinarian may make recommendations for long-term treatments - such as antibiotics - to improve your pet’s related urinary tract health.

Hydrate and Expel

You can help keep bacteria at bay by providing your pet with easy and regular access to clean drinking water while allowing for routine urination. The more often your pet is able to urinate, the less likely that bacteria will be able to remain in the urinary tract. Let your dog out regularly and provide an accessible litter box for cats. Your pet should never have to “hold it” for too long.

UTIs and Diet

Some research suggests that your pet’s diet can have an effect on urinary tract health. Because of this you should take care to select appropriate foods. Your veterinarian may suggest food with a high moisture content that will increase your pet’s water intake, thus encouraging more frequent urination to flush out the bladder. You may also be advised to avoid foods with too many preservatives, colorants, or additives that can deplete your pet’s immune system. Foods should always be properly stored to reduce the risk of bacteria formation or spread.

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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  • Kimba

    2/14/2014 1:04:32 AM

    i have a 3 year old american bulldog cross american staffy and have just notice't she went to the toilet while she was laying down she is not lazy and is in great shape at 42kg, she is very fit. doz anyone kno why she has done this i was thinking she has an infection but not sure

    • PetCareAmy

      2/14/2014 6:25:27 AM

      It certainly could be an infection. Sounds like it would be worth a call to your vet. If you need to find a vet, you can use our Vet Finder (

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