Urinary Tract Infections are a common and incredibly painful health issue that affects both dogs and cats. Most often caused by bacteria that enters the urinary tract when your pet’s natural defenses are down, UTIs can result in serious health complications and even death if left untreated. In most cases UTIs are completely treatable, and you can take steps to reduce the chance of your pet suffering this unpleasant ordeal in the future. Here are five facts to consider when looking to treat and prevent UTIs:
1. Health Helps
Every pet deserves a healthy, active lifestyle. Good nutrition, exercise, and proper grooming can all contribute to better overall health. In the case of UTIs, these factors can have a direct impact on your pet’s likeliness to become infected. Evaluating your pet’s diet, providing plenty of clean water, encouraging exercise, and keeping your pet groomed will not only give you a happier, healthier pet, it may also reduce the chance of infection that can be caused by unhealthy or contaminated food, infrequent urination, or the forming and spreading of bacteria under unhygienic circumstances.
2. A Common Bacteria
Escherichia coli, or E. coli, is the bacteria most often responsible for causing urinary tract infections. E. coli lives in the digestive tracts of both humans and animals, and most strains are harmless. However when your pet’s immune system and natural defenses are down for one reason or another, virulent strains of E. Coli can enter the urinary tract through the urethra and aggregate in the bladder. While other types of bacteria, fungi, and algae can also cause UTIs, E. coli is the worst offender.
3. Take Care
Pets can’t help themselves when they develop an infection, so it’s up to the owner to monitor their pet’s behavior and take action when something seems off and the pet begins to show symptoms of a UTI. Extra attention should be paid to pets with health conditions that may increase the chance of getting a UTI, such as 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.
For these pets, your veterinarian may suggest taking additional preventative measures. In some cases, your pet may not exhibit any symptoms, so keep up with regular trips to the veterinarian to monitor your pet’s overall health. Early detection and treatment are important to relieve your pet of their pain and to reduce the risk of developing serious health complications that may require more intense and more expensive treatments.
4. Who is most affected by UTIs?
There is a lot of talk about which pets are most susceptible to UTIs- - younger or older, male or female, dogs or cats, pets with health conditions. In reality any pet can develop a UTI and you should take proper care to prevent, identify, and treat these infections.
5. Follow Up to Follow Through
In addition to a physical examination and a discussion of the symptoms, your veterinarian may also run some tests to diagnose a UTI. A urinalysis detects the infection, and a urine culture confirms the infection and identifies the infecting bacteria. In many cases a course of Cephalexin antibiotics or Clavamox will be prescribed to treat the UTI. Once this or any treatment is complete, some veterinarians suggest a follow-up urine culture to confirm that the infection has been eliminated. This extra step can help to detect persistent infections that require further treatment.
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.