This is all my research on Urinary tract infections, condensed into a simple and easy to read article, so you can make the best and most informed decisions on treating UTIs.
What is the urinary tract?
The urinary tract is a waste removal system. When your dog eats, the body takes nutrients from the food and it goes into the blood. Not everything taken into the blood is needed or in fact healthy, it’s waste. The kidneys and urinary system help the body to eliminate the waste.
This waste is called Urea, it’s carried in the bloodstream (after entering the blood through the digestive process) to the kidneys, where it is removed along with water and other waste.
The journey begins in the kidneys, then it travels dog the ureters, the tubes from the kidney to the bladder. Then when your dog takes a number 1, it goes through the urethra, the final tube.
What are the symptoms of a urinary tract infection in dogs?
- 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
What are Urinary Tract Infections?
Urine infections affect around 27% of dogs. These are infections that cause inflammation in the urinary tract and are mainly an overgrowth of bacteria, but they can also be caused by fungus overgrowth, and in extremely rare cases, viral infection. (1)
What are the types of Urinary Tract infections in Dogs?
- Bacterial Cystitis
- Sporadic Cystitis
- See here for Urinary Stones (Struvite, Cysteine, Calcium Oxalate)
What causes Urinary Tract Infections in dogs?
A digestive issue is normally caused by improper digestion. An underperforming digestive system, but generally caused by improper use.
There are factors thought to influence the risk of contracting a UTI. These factors included whether or not the dog is male or female, (females more likely) if they’ve been spayed or neutered (more likely than intact dogs), some breeds are predisposed and age is a factor as well.
Those are factors that increase the likelihood, these following are the causes on Urinary Tract infections in dogs:
Urine Microbiome Imbalance – Incorrect Diet/ Overuse of antibiotics
The urine microbiome is a community of microorganisms (such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses) in the urine, healthy dogs has a diverse bacterial and fungal species. (2)
We used to think that urine was sterile! In fact it contains its own ecosystem of bacteria that comes from the foods that you feed your dog. There is a balance of bacteria which keeps your dog healthy, when it becomes imbalanced, the overgrowth of certain bacteria cause an infection.
pH of the Urine – Incorrect Diet
A healthy dog produces slightly acidic urine between 6.0-6.5 pH. There is a correlation between bacterial overgrowth with more neutral urine, around pH 7. (3)
Improper macronutrient balance
If a dog’s diet is not made up of the proper balance of ingredient, for example fresh meat which is acidic, the balance of ingredients become unnaturally alkaline for dogs. The more neutral pH creates a safer environment for more bacteria to grow and become imbalanced.
Improper functioning of the Lower Urinary Tract – Incorrect diet or inherited
The Lower Urinary Tract has several mechanisms for the defence against bacterial overgrowth and imbalance, this includes releasing anti-microbial peptides and releasing neutrophils, immune cells. (4)
How to treat?
Treatment of your dog’s urinary tract infection with diet will mean eliminating the underlying causes, to make sure to minimize further damage.
The most important part of ensuring there’s no recurrence, is going to be a move to a fresh food diet. A diverse, balanced bacteria, creating a healthy microbiome, both in the gut and the urine, comes from having a diet with a range of natural fresh foods in the diet.
This will have secondary effects of improving the lower urinary tracts ability to deal with bacterial overgrowth and ensure the urine pH is within the correct range. The use of more acidic ingredients like cranberries or pomegranate can also decrease urine pH effectively. (5)
By using a range of anti-inflammatory ingredients, in combination with a complete diet, your dog will likely not have any recurring issues.
Specific nutrition for a dog with Urinary Tract Infecitons
A high protein diet is recommended, high in meat to help acidify the urine.
A standard medium fat diet is recommended.
This should be lowered to help balance the gut bacteria and to aid lowering urine pH.
Vitamins and Minerals
A standard complete diet is recommended.
Recommended supplements for a dog with a Urinary Tract Infeciton
If you’d like a consultation to help create a plan for your dog, please click here.
If you’d like specific Urinary health recipes, bespoke to your dog, please click here.
- Melgarejo, T., Oakley, B.B., Krumbeck, J.A., Tang, S., Krantz, A. and Linde, A., 2021. Assessment of bacterial and fungal populations in urine from clinically healthy dogs using next‐generation sequencing. Journal of veterinary internal medicine, 35(3), pp.1416-1426.
- Robin R. Shields-Cutler, Jan R. Crowley, Chia S. Hung, Ann E. Stapleton, Courtney C. Aldrich, Jonas Marschall, Jeffrey P. Henderson. Human Urinary Composition Controls Siderocalin’s Antibacterial Activity. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2015; jbc.M115.645812 DOI: 1074/jbc.M115.645812
- Byron, J.K., 2019. Urinary tract infection. Veterinary Clinics: Small Animal Practice, 49(2), pp.211-221.
- Chou, H.I., Chen, K.S., Wang, H.C. and Lee, W.M., 2016. Effects of cranberry extract on prevention of urinary tract infection in dogs and on adhesion of Escherichia coli to Madin-Darby canine kidney cells. American journal of veterinary research, 77(4), pp.421-427.
- Gerber, B., 2018. Current tips on the management of canine urinary tract infections.