Has your dog ever had a UTI?
Urinary tract infections can be common in dogs and as they are uncomfortable and frustrating to deal with, we think it’s important to discuss what could be the underlying cause of your dog’s bladder problem. You’d be surprised to know that it might not really be what it seems...
Contrary to popular belief, not all UTI’s are from a bacterial infection. While they can be, many bladder issues are from inflammation and there’s actually no bacteria associated with them. This is the reason why in some cases, prescribing antibiotics doesn’t help ‘cure’ the bladder infection in question. To a vet who leads with integrative medicine and who looks at all possibilities before prescribing meds, the I in UTI doesn’t necessarily stand for infection, but rather inflammation.
First, let’s talk about the signs of UTIs in dogs. UTIs can include organs such as the kidneys, ureters, urethra and bladder. Common signs of UTIs in dogs include:
- Frequent desire to urinate and in small amounts.
- Urine could contain blood. Sometimes you may see a little blood at the very end or it could be unnoticeable. Getting your dog to pee on paper towels is a good way to see if there’s blood present or not.
- Seeing your dog licking before she/he urinates or he/she may lick when she comes back inside the house.
- Urination accidents in the house.
- General restlessness.
- Waking up a couple of times in the middle of the night needing to go outside.
- Trying to pee again right having peed.
- trying a few times and squatting or straining a few different ways.
If left untreated, UTIs can cause complications like stones, dysfunction, infertility, kidney infection and even kidney failure. So let’s try to make sure your dog’s bladder function is as clean as a whistle. If your dog is showing symptoms of a UTI, it’s a good idea to have your integrative vet run a urinalysis. The reason being that the UTI in itself could be a symptom of a more serious problem. These problems are much less likely, but it’s always good to rule out, catch and treat something as early on as possible. Sometimes your veterinarian will recommend a urine culture, urine cultures help identify the type of bacteria to treat so your vet can choose the right antibiotics for treatment. If you aren’t planning on using antibiotics or you want to try naturally first, you can ask to wait before having a culture done.
We’re not against antibiotics, but we do recommend trying a natural approach prior to jumping right into the meds. The problem with antibiotics is that they don’t just destroy the possible bacteria causing the infection, they also destroy a lot of the good bacteria in your dog’s gut. As we mentioned at the beginning of this blog, some urinary tract infections in dogs are actually inflammation or a symptom of a more serious problem. In those cases, the antibiotics are destroying your dog’s microbiome without effectively treating the real cause of your dog’s UTI. This is why we see dogs that have recurrent UTIs come back frequently. Another thing to take in consideration is that antibiotic resistance is a real thing and the more your antibiotics your dog takes, the less effective they become over time.
So what do we do? Luckily, there are lots of natural options available to prevent and resolve UTIs. Let’s review some natural remedies that can help.
NOTE: For homeopathic or herbal remedies, you will still need an expert’s help, so please consult an integrative or alternative vet prior to trying any of these remedies.
- Couch grass is a common weed in North America and is sometimes called quack grass. According to ‘Herbs for Pets’ by herbalist and homeopathic expert Gregory L. Tilford, it is a go-to for urinary tract problems. Couch grass is an anti-inflammatory, mild antimicrobial and pain soother. It’s also a diuretic, which means it can help encourage urination and toxin elimination.
- Parsley leaf is another diuretic that can help with UTIs. It has magic antiseptic properties, plus it’s easy to give your dog. How do you give your dog parsley for a UTI? Tilford recommends you juice the parsley leaf. Feed the juice at 1 teaspoon per 20 pounds of your dog’s body weight, he also says it’s best to give it by mouth and on an empty stomach. (We also add parsley in all of our meals!)
- Marshmallow is one of the most versatile herbs for dogs. It’s a demulcent that soothes and protects irritated and inflamed tissue. This makes it a perfect remedy for urinary tract infections in dogs. It helps reduce inflammation and creates a barrier between the lining of the urinary tract and harmful bacteria.
- Cranberry is a well known natural remedy for UTIs in humans, and it turns out it can work for your dog too. The sugar in cranberries is called D-mannose, studies show that D-mannose stops bacteria from attaching to the urinary tract. Studies also show that D-mannose can improve UTI symptoms. The flavonoids in cranberry may also stimulate the innate immune system, which can help battle bacterial infections more efficiently.
Now that we’ve given you some useful treatments/remedies, can we talk prevention? One of the best ways to help prevent UTIs in your dog is through the food you feed her/him! (No surprise here, your dog’s health starts with it’s micro biome.) Probiotics encourage the growth of healthy bacteria, which help crowd out harmful bacteria. They also produce short-chain fatty acids that boost your dog’s overall health. This can help prevent bacteria growth to reduce the risk of UTIs caused by infections.
PS : you can find pre/probiotics for dogs in foods like yogurt or kefir or in capsules as supplements.
Fruits and vegetables are also full of antioxidants, and antioxidants help the immune system run way more efficiently, cranberries, broccoli and blueberries are all antioxidants that you can find in our fresh blends. High carb diets can upset the gut flora because of all the sugar and starch and one of the biggest sources of unhealthy carbohydrates for dogs is kibble. In fact, processed food can contain 30 to 60% starch. That number becomes even more concerning when you realize that dogs don’t need starch... So if you feed your dog kibble, that means that more than half his/her diet could be food that he doesn’t actually benefit from and, well, could be what’s making him/her sick!
So what do you feed your dog instead?
Raw, species-appropriate diets are the best choice when it comes to all aspects of your dog’s health and that most certainly includes UTI prevention. Raw diets give your dog a complete, balanced, natural source of the vitamins and minerals she/he needs to boost his/her immune system and there are no starchy carbohydrates that promote inflammation or bacterial growth in our meals. Feeding your dog a PLDF diet puts all the chances on his/her side to avoid infections like these and keep your dog wagging, healthy and happy.