Urinary tract infections are among the most common health problems that veterinarians see on a daily basis. About 14% of all dogs will have a UTI at some point in their lives. It’s less commonly seen in cats, only seen in about 1% of the population. But, urologic problems tend to be more serious in cats, even life-threatening. Whether you have a dog or a cat, early diagnosis and treatment will help to ensure that the condition does not become more serious. If left untreated, the condition can spread, affecting the bladder and damaging the kidneys. Scar tissue can form, making urination constantly painful and/or difficult.
Pain is the first sign to look for. It is sometimes more difficult to recognize that your cat is in pain, since they tend to deal with it on their own. One sign would be excessive grooming of the genitals or urinating outside of the litter box. You see, your cat would think that the pain is associated with the box itself. So to her, urinating elsewhere may be less painful. If she “goes” on a light colored surface, you may see slight traces of blood. In that case, you should contact your vet right away.
Dogs have more UTIs, because we keep them inside, restricting their access to a “bathroom”, so to speak, and requiring them to “hold” their bladders for sometimes long periods of time. Dogs are more likely to whine or cry when the pain begins. They may run away after urinating and tuck their tails between their legs.
Vets usually prescribe antibiotics, but the side effects can create other health problems, including loss of appetite, lethargy and vomiting. The loss of appetite may be temporary, but if your pet refuses to eat, you should talk to the vet about changing the medication or consider other treatment options. A homeopathic veterinarian may prescribe uva ursi, berberis, cantharis, staphysagris or a combination of the herbs and botanical extracts. All of these are well known tonics for treating and preventing urinary tract infections.
Prevention & Maintenance
First of all, you should make sure that your pet has easy access to clean, fresh water. Filtered or bottled is preferable to chlorinated or fluorinated water. If you have a dog, you should consider installing a pet door, so that she can go outside when she needs to. If that’s impossible and you work outside the home, try to find someone that can take her for a walk in the middle of the day. An eight or ten hour day is a long time to make her wait. Think about how many times you use the bathroom every day. For small dogs, absorbent pads are available and it is relatively easy to train them to “go” there. When you come home, you simply pick them up and throw them away.
Moist food is better than dry. If you have been feeding dry, you may notice some changes in their bowel movements. These usually clear up in a short time, but if things have not improved after two weeks, try a different brand. Consider organic and raw, unprocessed foods and never give your pet anything that contains sugar. Avoid the use of commercial flea collars, powders and sprays. When walking your dog, avoid areas that have been sprayed with weed or bug killer. All of these things are toxic and the smaller your pet, the more likely he or she will have a negative reaction. Make sure that your animals get regular exercise and minimize the stress in their lives. If you are currently using a regular veterinarian, consider switching to a holistic vet. They are normally more aware of the stress that a vet visit causes an animal. They avoid over-immunizations and help you learn to support your pets’ immune system function.