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Watch out for Red Snow!

January 14, 2020

Did you know we see an increased number of cases involving bloody urine in the winter months?

This is not because dogs are more susceptible to the causes of bloody urine during this time. More likely, your dog has had bloody urine for a while, and you are only able to see it in the white snow.

Common causes for bloody urine in dogs are:

Urinary tract infection (UTI) – When a pathogen, usually bacteria, invades the urinary tract (typically the kidneys or bladder) and causes disease/clinical signs. The urinary tract consists of the kidneys, ureters (tubes that carry urine to the bladder for storage), the urinary bladder, and the urethra that conducts urine outside the body.

Bladder stones – Solid mineral deposits that form inside the bladder of dogs and cats.

Bladder tumor – An abnormal growth of tissue within the bladder.

Prostatitis – Prostate infection in unneutered male dogs.

For the purpose of this article we will be focusing on Urinary Tract Infections.

Signs and symptoms of a UTI:

Increase thirst and urgency of urination.

Urinating small amounts frequently.

Inadequate bladder control during their normal amount of time.

Bloody urine.

A urinalysis is a test that can be run which can diagnose many illnesses. When we run a urinalysis in the hospital, a doctor is typically looking to see if there are any white blood cells or bacteria that would indicate a urinary tract infection. We can also learn if there are crystals in the urine (often caused by diet) that may indicate bladder stones. Testing to see if the urine is dilute or concentrated and if there is protein in the urine may indicate if there is a problem with the kidneys.

That is why we recommend running a routine urinalysis on dogs and cats at least once a year. For those patients that are prone to urinary crystals or infections in the bladder, we recommend more frequent testing between 2-4 times a year.

Urine sample collection techniques:

Now that you know why and when to collect a urine sample, let me explain how.

The easiest way for you to collect a routine urinary sample is to take a clean plastic container and collect the urine while your dog is going to the bathroom outside. We call this “free-catch”. The first sample in the morning is best, but any sample is better than none. We are always happy to help with collecting a sample, just ask our front desk staff.

You can also collect a sample from the floor or “tabletop” as we call it. This collection method is least ideal but will work in a pinch.

*Try to bring your sample as soon as you can. If you can’t get to our building right away, you can keep it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before testing.

The most sanitary and helpful sample for diagnostic purposes is what is know as cystocentesis. This is when one of our doctors collects the urine via a needle tap directly into the bladder. This is a safe method that bypasses the lower urinary tract and this way we can be sure the sample was not contaminated by bacteria in the vulva or prepuce.

Why send out a urine culture:

Our doctors can do some amazing things with a little urine, some dye and a microscope, but they unfortunately cannot look at the bacteria in the urine and say for sure which antibiotic we have in our arsenal will treat that specific organism. That is where a urine culture comes in. For a first-time urinary tract infection, it is highly recommended that a urine sample be sent to the lab to culture the bacteria and let us know which antibiotics will work to treat the infection. To avoid contaminants in the sample, it is recommended that the urine be collected via cystocentesis. If you do not wish to culture the urine, however, the doctor would select an antibiotic to start with and recommend a follow up sample in 10-14 days to see if the infection was cured.

Our Advice on Watch out for Red Snow in 2024

Why are there more cases involving bloody urine in dogs during winter?

The increased number of cases involving bloody urine in dogs during winter is not due to dogs being more susceptible to the causes of bloody urine in colder months. Instead, it’s more likely that the bloody urine has been present for a while but becomes more visible against the white backdrop of snow. This contrast makes it easier for pet owners to notice signs of bloody urine, leading to an apparent rise in reported cases and prompting more visits to veterinarians for diagnosis and treatment.

What are the common causes of bloody urine in dogs?

Common causes for bloody urine in dogs include urinary tract infections (UTIs), where pathogens invade the urinary tract, leading to inflammation and bleeding; bladder stones, which are solid mineral deposits that can irritate the bladder wall; bladder tumors, abnormal growths that can cause bleeding; and prostatitis, an infection of the prostate gland in unneutered male dogs. These conditions can lead to blood in the urine, signaling the need for a veterinary evaluation to effectively diagnose and treat the underlying cause.

What are the signs and symptoms of a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) in dogs?

Signs and symptoms of a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) in dogs include increased thirst and urgency of urination, frequent urination in small amounts, inadequate bladder control or accidents, and the presence of bloody urine. Dogs may also show discomfort or pain, such as whining or straining while urinating. These symptoms suggest a possible UTI, warranting a veterinary consultation for diagnosis and treatment. Early detection and appropriate medical intervention can prevent complications and ensure a quick recovery for the affected dog.

Why is routine urinalysis recommended annually for dogs and cats?

Routine urinalysis is recommended annually for dogs and cats to monitor their urinary and overall health proactively. This preventive measure helps detect various conditions, such as urinary tract infections, kidney disease, diabetes, and bladder stones before they become more serious. Identifying issues early can lead to more effective management or treatment, improving the pet’s quality of life. Additionally, frequent testing for pets prone to urinary problems allows for timely adjustments in their care plan, preventing recurrent issues and ensuring ongoing health.

What are some methods for collecting a urine sample from a dog?

Some methods for collecting a urine sample from a dog include the “free-catch” method, where a clean container is used to catch urine. In contrast, the dog urinates outside, which is typically considered the easiest way for pet owners. Another method is collecting urine from a hard surface, though less ideal due to potential contamination. The most sterile and preferred method, especially for diagnostic purposes, is cystocentesis, where a veterinarian collects urine directly from the bladder using a needle. This method minimizes contamination and provides the most accurate sample for analysis.

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