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Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) in Dogs

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common in small animals, developing in up to 27% of dogs. Generally, a UTI occurs when bacteria travels up the urethra and into the bladder.

Urine in the bladder is supposed to be sterile, but once bacteria find their way there, they can grow and reproduce, causing a UTI. Additionally, some dogs will develop bladder stones in conjunction with their UTI, which opens the door for additional health issues.

Older female dogs, and dogs with diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes), more commonly develop UTIs than the general population. Dogs who have bladder stones are also more prone to recurrent UTIs. This highlights the importance of getting a complete diagnosis whenever there is evidence of disease in the urinary tract. Bladder stones must be removed or dissolved in order to restore bladder health.

Some breeds of dog are prone to certain types of bladder stones, including; Dalmations, Bichon Frise and Miniature Schnauzers.

Causes of Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) in Dogs

Approximately 27% of dogs will develop a urinary tract infection (UTI) at some point in their life, with a large percentage of those being caused by a bacterial infection. However there are a number of other reasons why your dog may be suffering from the uncomfortable symptoms of a UTI including:

  • Viral infection
  • Urinary stones
  • Crystals
  • bladder inflammation
  • Weak bladder
  • Fungal infection
  • Kidney disease
  • spinal cord disease
  • Prostrate disease
  • Cancer

Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infections in Dogs

Some common UTI symptoms include:

  • Bloody and/or cloudy urine
  • Straining or whimpering during urination
  • Accidents in the house
  • Needing to be let outside more frequently
  • Licking around the urinary opening
  • Fever

Sometimes, however, dogs don’t show any symptoms of a UTI at all. In these instances, your veterinarian might discover the infection while testing for other things.

For symptomatic dogs, these signs could point toward a possible UTI. However, there are some more serious conditions that your veterinarian will want to rule out first.


Your vet will carry out a physical examination to detect a fever, painful or enlarged bladder or kidneys. Following this, urinalysis is carried out by testing a fresh urine sample for acidity, blood, infection, sugar, concentration and crystals. A urine culture test may also be carried out if bacteria are found in the sample or when an animal experiences recurrent/on-going cystitis.

Blood tests can also be carried out to check for kidney disease, infections and signs of underlying hormonal disorders such as diabetes or Cushing’s disease which may cause your dog to drink more than usual. X-rays and ultrasound scans may be used for ongoing or recurrent UTIs, to check for urinary stones in the bladder or urethra, diagnose bladder tumours and to see if urinary tract anatomy is normal. Prostate and spinal disease may also be picked up on imaging.

Treatment of Urinary Tract Infections in Dogs

If you suspect your dog has a UTI, see your veterinarian for antibiotics. The test for a dog UTI is a urine culture. Your vet will analyze a sample of your dog’s urine to see if bacteria are present and if there are any crystals, which can signal that your dog has bladder stones too.

Your dog may also need x-rays to check for bladder stones if your vet finds crystals in the urine sample. Bladder stones can cause recurring bladder infections and need to be treated as well.


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