The bladder is an organ that stores urine. In the case of dogs, it is located within the dog’s abdomen in the area between the rear legs.
When a dog releases himself, the muscles in the bladder wall contract, sneezing the urine out through the urethra (the narrow tube that carries the urine outside the body).
A ring of muscle called a sphincter surrounds the urethra near the bladder, closing off the urine flow until it is time for the dog to release himself.
Dog bladder infection (cystitis) is a bacterial infection of the lining of the dog’s bladder. Bacteria sometimes travel up the urethra into the dog’s bladder, causing an infection.
In many cases, an urinary tract infection precedes a bladder infection in dogs.
Female dogs are more prone to urinary tract infections and bladder infections. The reason is that their urethra is shorter, making it easier for bacteria to travel upwards.
Bladder stones can occur as a result of bladder infections in dogs. The bacteria in the bladder can form a “nidus” (a central point) around which the stone develops.
Bladder stones therefore can become a “hiding place” for bacteria against antibiotics. This leads to difficult-to-treat chronic bladder infections in dogs.
Also, a canine bladder infection, if left untreated, can lead to kidney infection which is more serious. Be sure to take your dog to the vet if he shows signs and symptoms of a bladder infection.
Causes of Dog Bladder Infection
Underlying problems that can cause a bladder infection in dogs include:
- Diabetes mellitus
- Long-term corticosteroid therapy
- Lack of fresh, clean drinking water
- Insufficient bathroom time resulting in the dog holding urine
Symptoms of Dog Bladder Infection
The classic symptom of dog bladder infections is frequent and painful urination.
A dog with a bladder infection usually strains to urinate frequently, and very often only a small amount of urine is passed.
The urine is cloudy and has an abnormal odor. Because of the frequent urge to urinate, the dog may have “accidents” around the house.
Other canine bladder infection symptoms include:
- Back pain
- Female dogs may lick frequently at the vulva and have a vaginal discharge
Diagnosis and Treatment of Dog Bladder Infection
Diagnosis is by a urinalysis to check for bacteria, white blood cells and red blood cells in the urine.
X-rays may be taken in order to rule out the possibility of bladder stones.
Conventional treatment of canine bladder infections is the use of oral antibiotics for two to three weeks. After that, another urinalysis will be done to ensure that the infection has been eliminated.
Prevention of Bladder Infection Using Supplements
Bladder infections in dogs can be prevented by using the following supplements:
Cranberries (also blackberries and raspberries) are effective in preventing cystitis. They help to keep bacteria from adhering to the lining of the bladder and the urethra. They may also help to lower urine pH.
You can give non-sweetened cranberry juice (about half an ounce for dogs) to your dog. Or, you can use a cranberry powder product such as Solid Gold Berry Balance for Cats and Dogs.
Vitamin C can acidify the urine which in turn helps to control bacterial infections. Vitamin C also has anti-inflammatory properties and therefore can prevent infections.
Cod-liver oil is rich in vitamin A which is essential in keeping the lining of the bladder and urinary tract in good condition.
You can also prevent canine bladder infections by giving access to your dog fresh, clean water at all times. Also make sure that he has plenty of bathroom time to release himself.
Feed your dog a high-quality natural diet instead of cheap kibbles which are usually packed with grain-based carbohydrates. These carbs can alter the pH of your dog’s urine, creating an environment that encourages bacteria to thrive.