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.
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.
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