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The Top 6 Urinary Diseases in Dogs

From urinary tract infections in dogs to dog incontinence, we take you through the signs and symptoms of some common urinary diseases in dogs.

Arden Moore  |  Oct 3rd 2017


A happy, healthy dog sports a well-working “plumbing” system. Consult your veterinarian if your dog’s bathroom habits change, as catching conditions early can lessen the harm and may even save your dog’s life. Here is a rundown on the most common canine urinary diseases to look out for:

If you suspect any of these urinary diseases in dogs, take a pee sample!

If you suspect any of these urinary diseases in dogs, take a pee sample! Photography ©BENCHAMA1234 | Thinkstock.

1. Urinary tract infection

Upper urinary tract infections in dogs involve the kidneys and ureters, while lower UTIs in dogs impact the bladder and urethra. Common causes can include bacterial infections (particularly, Streptococcus and Escherichia coli), endocrine diseases and injury. Dogs with UTIs will exhibit many of these signs: cloudy or bloody urine, inability to urinate, straining when trying to pee, painful urination, obsessive licking of the genital area, increase in the amount and/or frequency of urination, suddenly house soiling, back pain and vomiting.

2. Kidney infection:

Pyelonephritis is the medical term for an inflamed kidney infection caused by bacteria. A weakened immune system can make your dog more vulnerable to a variety of bacterial infections, including those associated with dental disease. All of these bacterial infections can weaken the kidney’s ability to filter toxins and waste products from the blood. Common symptoms associated with kidney infection include foul breath, vomiting, weight loss, bloody urine, pale gums, lethargy, reduced appetite and change in the amount of urine.

Kidney or bladder stones:

Some dog breeds, including Shih Tzus, Miniature Schnauzers and Dalmatians, are more prone to develop crystals or stones in the kidneys (medically referred to as nephrolithiasis). Many causes are linked to kidney stones, including high levels of calcium. Bladder stones are made from chemical compounds like struvite, urate or calcium oxalate crystals. Look for these warning signs: straining to urinate, discolored urine, house soiling accidents, frequent tries to urinate and licking around the urinary opening.

3. Diabetes:

This chronic disease (formally known as diabetes mellitus) is a metabolism disorder in which the glucose-insulin connection is not working in harmony. Look for these early signs: increased thirst and increased urination, weight loss and increased appetite. However, if diabetes is allowed to progress, your dog will display vomiting, loss of appetite, diminished energy and, eventually, cataracts, urinary tract infections and kidney failure.

4. Cushing’s disease:

Also known as hyperadrenocorticism, this condition results from an excessive production of cortisol released by the adrenal glands. Older dogs are most at risk. It’s tricky to diagnose, but affected dogs will be extremely hungry and thirsty, urinate more often and in greater volume, develop infections, lose muscle and bone mass plus suffer from enlarged abdomens.

5. Prostate gland disease:

Some male dogs do not display any symptoms of this infection that can develop in intact dogs. But here are some common signs: blood in the urine, blood in ejaculate, difficulty in urinating or defecating, ribbon-shaped stools, decreased appetite, stiff walking and abdominal pain.

6. Dog incontinence:

A weakened urinary sphincter muscle causes urine to leak out. Other causes can include hormonal imbalance, spinal cord disease, urinary tract infection or stones and reaction to certain medications. An incontinent dog will drip urine (even while sleeping or climbing stairs) and develop redness around the vulva or penis area. This condition tends to affect middle-aged to senior dogs.

Thumbnail: Photography ©Artnature/Thinkstock.

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Editor’s note: This article appeared in Dogster magazine. Have you seen the new Dogster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? Subscribe now to get Dogster magazine delivered straight to you