All About Urinary Tract Infections in Cats and Dogs

Is your pet’s urination irregular? This could be an indication of a urinary infection. Learn the symptoms of a UTI and how you can help your pet return to normal.

What is a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection)?

Urinary tract infection (or UTI) is a bacterial infection affecting dogs and cats. It can happen when non-native bacteria, most commonly bacteria that naturally occur in the body and the skin or gut, get into the urinary tract of a cat or a dog. These bacteria take up residence in the urinary tract and cause an infection.

Some pets are more susceptible to UTIs. Like humans, female cats and dogs are more likely than males to develop UTIs. UTIs also occur more often in older animals, pets with kidney disease, diabetes, and other conditions that affect the immune system.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

A UTI can be seen in both cats and dogs.

  • Urinate with a lot of force
  • Uncomfortable urination
  • Smaller amounts of urine more frequently urinated
  • Unusual accidents at home
  • Reduced Urination
  • Bloody or cloudy urine
  • Urine with a foul smell
  • Grooming excessively around the genitals

You may not even notice that your pet is suffering from a UTI. Diagnosing a UTI in animals that mask symptoms or act normally can be challenging. Many pets go to the vet for an unrelated issue, only to find out through tests that they have had a UTI for years.

The most common way to test for a urinary infection in cats and dogs is by urinalysis, which pushes the urine for signs of infection. You won’t need to make your pet pee into a cup.

The majority of urine samples are taken through cystocentesis. This is a minorly invasive but scary procedure where a veterinarian inserts a long needle into the bladder and collects a model that has not been contaminated on its way out. The vet will then conduct a culture test and sensitivity test to determine the type of bacteria and prescribe the best antibiotics.

A UTI is often the best solution to urinary issues. Many bladder issues that can be symptoms of a UTI may also indicate more serious medical conditions, ranging from bladder stones to cancer. Your vet will run several tests to determine if your pet has a UTI and rule out other medical problems.


It’s good to know that UTIs are relatively easy to treat! Your vet will prescribe antibiotics for most urinary tract infections in dogs and cats.

The vet may change your pet’s antibiotic after the results of the urine culture tests are returned. This is because the new antibiotic will target the specific bacteria they fight. Most cases can be resolved in a matter of days with antibiotics. If your pet is in pain while urinating, your vet may prescribe pain medication to help them heal.

Untreated UTIs, while usually a minor problem, can cause more serious problems. For example, if an infection in the bladder turns into a kidney infection or internal blockages develop in the urinary system. Even if your pet’s symptoms seem mild, it’s important to visit your local veterinarian for treatment. You can prevent future health issues by acting quickly!

Probiotics are a great way to replenish the healthy bacteria in your pet’s gut after antibiotic treatment. Antibiotics can wipe out both the good and the harmful bacteria. To keep your pet’s digestion and health in top shape, give them a healthy dose of probiotics.

You can give your dog probiotic supplements or feed them a diet rich in probiotics. ( The same is valid for cats). You can ask your vet if probiotics should be taken along with antibiotics or if you should wait until the treatment is completed.

Recurring Infections

You may notice that while most pets return to their normal bathroom routines after treatment, your pet could get a second UTI quickly. Some pets are prone to recurrent infections of the urinary system.

Several medical conditions can increase the likelihood that a pet will have recurring infections. UTIs can be caused by other urinary tract infections and conditions that affect your pet’s immunity. Some pets have physical characteristics that make them more vulnerable to bacterial infections in their urinary system.

Consider environmental factors which may introduce unhealthy bacteria into your pet. Their food or water can cause this. It’s essential to change your pet’s drinking water regularly. Stagnant or stagnant water can grow bacteria within 24 hours.

Leave pet food out for a short time. Follow the instructions on packaging your pet’s favorite food to ensure proper storage. You might need to realize that those bulk bags of kibble are going wrong! Remember to wash the bowls of your pets with soap regularly. Just scooping out leftovers won’t be enough to stop bacteria from growing.

Pets who have experienced multiple UTIs or infections requiring antibiotic treatment may also develop antibiotic resistance. Bacteria can adapt to antibiotics over time and reduce their effectiveness. If this occurs, you and your veterinarian will need to collaborate to find new treatments for your pet. This may include switching antibiotics or other alternatives.

The following is a list of preventions.

UTIs are no exception to the old saying, “a pound saved by prevention is worth two pounds of cure.” You can reduce the chances of your pet getting UTIs by changing their environment and routine.

  • Water helps flush out harmful bacteria from the urinary system, so ensure they always have access to it. Consider a pet fountain that has running water. This will keep bacteria away and make water more appealing for your pet.
  • Your pet will drink more water if they are exercising vigorously. A healthy body also supports the immune system and overall body function.
  • Remove any water or food leftovers from the bowl and replace them with fresh water.
  • Speak to your veterinarian about the causes of UTIs in your pet. Treating the root cause is always the best solution if your pet has other conditions that make them susceptible to infection.


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