Home Remedies for Dog Urinary Tract Infection
Dogs are said to be man’s best friend and owning or adopting dogs is continuing to grow in popularity. In the United States alone, there are more than 43 million households who own dogs. People across the world have learned to appreciate these loving companions. Dogs are friendly, loyal, caring, and loving creatures and they deserve the best care that they can get.
Given the best care, dogs can grow healthy and playful. However, owners can never be sure that their pets won’t get sick no matter how much time and attention is spent on taking care of them. Along with ear infections and diarrhea, urinary tract infection is one of the most common illnesses encountered by dogs.
Urinary Tract Infection and its Causes
Urinary Tract Infection or UTI may affect the bladder, the kidneys, the ureter or the urethra. UTI can affect both male and female dogs but female dogs are more susceptible to this kind of illness. Diabetes also make older dogs more prone to UTIs. Some UTI cases are easily treated and last only for a few days, while some take a longer time to subside.
When infection occurs in the kidneys, it is referred to as upper UTI while infections in the bladder or urethra is referred to as lower UTI. Majority of UTI cases are caused by bacteria. These bacteria may come from the surrounding environment, or from the dog’s own fecal matter. Bacteria enter the dog’s urinary tract through the urethra and move upwards to the bladder where they stay and reproduce.
However, some bacteria move further upwards and into the dog’s kidneys through the ureter. In addition to bacteria, there are also other organisms that may cause UTI but they are less common. These organisms include fungi, viruses, algae, parasitic worms, and mycoplasma.
Moreover, there are also cases of UTI which do not involve infection but are rather caused by other health problems or conditions. One common example is weak urinary sphincter muscle which causes the dog’s urine to flow out. Other health-related causes are crystals and/or debris accumulation in the bladder, weak bladder, cancer, stress, and prostate disease.
For UTI to be treated early, dog owners should be familiar with its symptoms. The following are symptoms that dog owners have to watch out for:
- Difficulty in urinating
When the dog takes a longer time urinating than usual or whimpers and arch its back while urinating, it could indicate that the dog is experiencing pain.
- Lack of appetite
Dogs with UTI usually lose their appetite. So when the dog hides or simply refuses to eat his food, it may be a cause for concern. Do note though, that there are other possible health-related reasons that could cause such a symptom to manifest.
- Frequent urination
Another common symptom is frequent urination. After urinating, the dog feels like urinating again and strains for a few more times. If the dog wants to be let out to take a pee quite often, it is a telling sign.
- Dark and/or bloody urine
Upon observing some of the symptoms above, the owner should also check the color of the dog’s urine. It should not be too dark or bloody. Letting the dog pee on a paper towel is a good way to check for the color of urine.
- Excess licking of genitals
It is normal for dogs to lick their genitals; however, excessive and frequent licking may indicate that the dog is experiencing pain or discomfort. This is usually observed before and/or after urinating.
Restlessness in general could be a telling sign that the dog is not in its best health condition. It may also indicate that the dog is uncomfortable or is in pain.
Other common symptoms include weight loss, lethargy, and fever. When caught early on, UTI can easily be treated through home remedies to prevent further complications. However, pet owners should also know that it is still best to consult a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment. Upon noticing the signs of UTI, pet owners should collect a urine sample from the dog and bring it to the veterinarian for a urinalysis. This is the best way to test whether the dog is really suffering from urinary tract infection.
Upon seeing early signs of UTI, pet owners may use the following home remedies to help alleviate pain and lower the chances of spreading the infection.
- Keep the dog comfortable
The first thing a pet owner can do for any sick pet is to keep it comfortable. Allow the dog to rest in a cool and comfortable place. Avoid scolding the dog and giving it stress.
Pet owners should give and encourage dogs to drink more water upon noticing signs of UTI. Water will help cleanse the dog’s urinary tract by flushing out the bacteria or other organisms causing the infection. Always make it a point that the dog has access to clean and fresh water. If the dog refuses to drink water, owners may opt to give soup or stock. It can be given as it is or mixed with dog food.
- Cranberry Juice
The effectiveness of this remedy is still disputed by veterinarians. However, some believe that cranberry juice may help lower the pH level of the dog’s urine, thereby preventing bacteria and other infection-causing organisms from sticking to the wall of the bladder. Aside from that, many disease-causing microbes are sensitive to low-pH environments. Owners should take caution in using this remedy especially if the cause of the UTI is unknown. Cranberry juice may cause the dog’s urine to become acidic, which may pose a more serious problem if the cause of the UTI is crystals or stone.
- Vitamin C
Vitamin C or ascorbic acid has an effect similar to that of cranberry juice. Vitamin C acidifies the dog’s urine and helps prevent the recurrence of infection. However, the same caution in advised in using vitamin C as it may result to complication in crystal-caused UTI cases.
- Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar can be used as a substitute for vitamin C and cranberry juice. The acidic content of the vinegar can help in neutralizing the infection-causing organism. Depending on the age and size of the dog, one to two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar can be administered by mixing it with dog food.
- Frequent Bathing
This remedy is good if the UTI is still in its early stages and not severe. Frequent bathing prevents the recurrence of infection. It will also help prevent the bacteria from spreading or entering the dog’s body through the opening of the urethra.
- Parsley Leaf
Parsley leaf is known to effectively increase the production of urine, thereby eliminating bacteria and other harmful organisms that are found in the dog’s bladder. Aside from being a diuretic, parsley leaf also has antiseptic qualities which may aid in treating the urinary infection.
- Neem or Chamomile tea
Neem is an effective antibacterial ingredient and can be used to treat bacteria-caused UTI. It also has anti-inflammatory properties which will help alleviate the pain experienced by the dog.
Chamomile has a similar effect as neem. However, chamomile has stronger antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and can be administered even if the infection is already in its advance stage. Both neem and chamomile can also serve as diuretics, stimulating urine production and expelling harmful organisms in the process.
- Feed your dog a balanced diet
The presence of infection means that the dog’s body is literally being attacked by harmful organisms, making it all the more important to make sure that the dog is getting the right nutrition. Dry food or kibble should be replaced with wet food such as fruits and vegetables. This will help strengthen the dog’s immune system as it fights off harmful organisms.
Word of Caution
As previously pointed out, despite the availability of remedies readily available at home, it is still best to consult a veterinarian before administering anything. As UTI can be a result of several causes, pet owners should first make sure what the cause is so proper medication and treatment can be given.
Lastly, prevention is still and always better than cure so keep the dog’s surrounding clean by frequently cleaning the dog house and giving the dog frequent baths. Also, pet owners should be responsible enough to schedule regular vet visits to make sure that their beloved canine companions are always in their best shape.