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Help! My Senior Dog has a Recurrent UTI

Close up of a golden retriever with it's head layed across its front paw

Urinary tract infections (UTI) are quite common among senior dogs. Although most canines get simple UTIs that can be treated easily with antibiotics, some older dogs can develop chronic infections. If your senior dog has developed 3 or more infections in a year, it’s the case of a recurrent UTI. Keep reading to know about the potential causes, indicating signs, and possible treatments for this condition.

What Causes a Recurrent UTI in Senior Dogs?

Most cases of urinary tract infection can be easily treated with antibiotics. However, an incomplete course of the medications can result in a UTI relapse. Therefore, veterinarians need to perform a urine culture after the course of antibiotics. This will ensure that the disease is cured completely. 

Similarly, an inaccurate prescription from the vet can also allow the disease to reappear. For example, prescribing an ineffective antibiotic or suggesting the wrong dosage (or duration) might result in a re-infection. A urine culture at the time of diagnosis can solve this problem. Some other factors that can cause a recurrent UTI in your senior dog are listed below.

  • Weak sphincter muscles in the urinary tract
  • Prostate infections
  • Kidney disease
  • Stones in the bladder and kidneys
  • Obesity
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Diabetes
  • Hypothyroidism

Symptoms of UTI in Senior Dogs

Beagle laying on hardwood floor next to a wet pee pad with a human hand on its head

Canines are very good at hiding pain and it can be difficult for most owners to detect a problem. However, the following are some signs that can indicate UTIs.

  • Excessive thirst
  • Changes in appetite
  • Back pain
  • Increased accidents
  • Difficult urination
  • Cloudy urine with blood and foul smell
  • Lethargy

What to Do If My Senior Dog has a Recurrent UTI?

If your pup is suffering from persistent urinary tract infections, the following methods can be used to cure the ailment.

Visit a Vet

Siberian Husky on an exam table with a vet rubbing its head

If your canine friend keeps developing a UTI again and again, schedule an immediate appointment with your vet. Once at the clinic, he/she will perform a variety of tests, like CBC, urinalysis, urine culture, and ultrasound. All of them will help the vet to figure out the underlying cause. In addition to them, a physical examination is also done to look for dermatitis and other skin infections.

Use Medications

Medication being spilled from a medicine bottle onto a teal colored background.

If a medical problem is identified, the veterinarian will prescribe a suitable antibiotic treatment. In regular cases, a course of 2-5 days will eliminate the infection. However, the antibiotic therapy can be extended to 4-6 weeks if there is a complication. In case of kidney or prostate infections, this duration can be increased to 6-8 weeks.

NOTE: In both cases, follow-up urine cultures are very important to note the efficacy of the treatment.

Surgical Treatment

German shepherd mix laying on a exam table being tended by a vet

This method is mostly used for treating recurrent UTIs in female dogs. This is because a surgical repair of the vulva is needed to prevent infections caused by perivulvar dermatitis. Likewise, surgery can be an effective treatment for canines with vaginal septal remnants.

Preventative Care

Close up of a beagle drinking water

These techniques are helpful only if the vet didn’t find any medical complications in your pooch. Let’s discuss some of the most useful methods to prevent a recurrent UTI in your senior dog.  

Provide Plenty of Drinking Water – It’s very important to ensure that your pooch is drinking sufficient water to minimize the chances of a re-infection. It will result in frequent urination, but it’s necessary to keep the urinary tract clean and bacteria-free.

Ensure Continued Monitoring – If your pup has the issue of recurrent UTIs, you must take him/her for a urine culture every 3 months. Even if the symptoms are not there, these tests can prevent serious problems, like kidney disease and bladder stones. If an infection is detected, consult the vet for an appropriate antibiotic course.

Try Cranberry Extracts – This useful ingredient can prevent UTIs by controlling the disease-causing bacteria.

Use Antibacterial wipes – This is another effective technique to minimize the harmful bacteria around the genital area of your pooch. In this way, they won’t be able to enter the urinary tract and cause an infection.

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