Urinary issues  in pets may be frustrating and create a big mess for you to clean but is often painful and may be life threatening for your pet. The two most common urinary tract diseases are urinary tract infections (UTIs) and urinary bladder stones. Symptoms of urinary tract disease in your pets include: 

  • Having the need to urinate often
  • Urinating out of the litter box or in abnormal places 
  • Straining to urinate
  • Having blood in the urine
  • Painful urination
  • Crying out when urinating

If any of these signs are noted in your cat or dog it is important to have them seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible since life threatening complications can occur. 

  • UTIs can lead to kidney infections if left untreated. 
  • Bladder stones can block the outflow of urine causing the urinary bladder to rupture and can lead to uremia (a serious life threatening condition).

Let’s do a quick overview of the structures and functions of the urinary system to help you better understand these illnesses. Then we can discuss the specifics of the urinary tract infections, bladder stones and “blocked” cats. We’ll look at the symptoms seen, how they are diagnosed and how they are treated.

What is the Urinary Tract and What are its Functions?

The urinary tract consists of a pair of kidneys that are each connected to the urinary bladder by tubes called ureters.  Urine is created in the kidneys then stored in the urinary bladder. When the bladder becomes full the urine is voided out via the urethra. As simple as the urinary system seems, it actually plays a vital role in overall health and has many important functions. 

  • The kidneys filter the blood to remove wastes and toxins from the body
  • The urinary tract maintains the balance of fluids and electrolytes to prevent body edema and swelling of the brain
  • Releases hormones to help regulate blood pressure
  • Releases the hormone erythropoietin to control red blood cell production
  • Regulates calcium and phosphorus levels for proper bone health and to prevent mineral deposition in the body
  • Regulates the acid-base balance to prevent conditions like metabolic acidosis

Now that you are more familiar with the urinary tract and its functions, let’s take a look at the two most common urinary tract diseases in cats and dogs, how they are diagnosed, and how they are treated. 

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

What is a Urinary Tract Infection?

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) occur when bacteria enter the urethra and urinary bladder. The urinary tract is a sterile environment, meaning microorganisms are not normally found in the bladder or urine. An infection occurs when bacteria from the genital region are able to travel up the urethra into the urinary bladder.

What are the Signs of a UTI?

If your cat or dog has a UTI, you may notice your pet has an increased need to urinate, blood tinged urine, or  your pet may be  urinating in inappropriate places like outside of its litter box. You may also notice your pet drinking more water than usual and/or licking their genital regions more frequently.

How is a UTI diagnosed?

A UTI is diagnosed by your pet’s veterinarian.

  • Based on your pet’s history of symptoms
  • A physical examination
  • Finding bacteria present in your pet’s urine sample 

How are UTIs Treated?

Antimicrobial medication will be prescribed to treat your pet’s infection as well as an anti-inflammatory and/or pain medication if warranted. A urine culture will also be done to help determine if the appropriate antibiotic is being used to treat the infection. UTI treatment is usually swift and successful especially if diagnosed early. 

Complications and prolonged infections can occur but are rare. They are typically seen if the full dose of antibiotic is not administered or the bacteria is resistant to the antibiotic medication that was prescribed. It's important to monitor for signs and seek out appropriate treatment early. 

Urinary Bladder Stones (Uroliths)

What are Uroliths?

Uroliths are stones that are formed by minerals in the urine. Minerals that have been filtered from the blood by the kidneys are deposited in the urine. The filtered minerals first form crystals. Crystals can commonly be found in normal urine samples. Under specific conditions these crystals can clump together to form hard stones called uroliths. Uroliths can form in all locations of the urinary tract but they are most commonly formed in the urinary bladder. Most uroliths are made of either struvite, calcium, phosphate, or ammonium. These stones range in size, shape, and texture depending on their mineral makeup.  The medical term used to describe urinary bladder stone formation is urolithiasis

What are the Causes of Stone Formation? 

Crystals form in urine when the kidneys excrete an excess of uric acid and other minerals. Crystals combine to form larger groups and stones under specific conditions such as alkaline urine that can occur when a pet has a UTI. Normal urine pH in cats and dogs is typically acidic with a pH range between 5.5 to 7.5. This is due to the typical meat-based, high protein diets most cats and dogs are fed.  However, some diets, medications, and diseases can cause the urine to become alkaline. Alkaline urine and crystal formation can be seen when pets are taking sulfonamide medications, have liver disease or acute renal failure and in ethylene glycol intoxication. Crystal and stone formation is also common in dalmatians due to a genetic trait that causes increased uric acid excretion from the kidneys compared to other dog breeds.

What are the Signs of Urinary Bladder Stones? 

The signs of urolithiasis are similar to other urinary tract diseases. Your pet may need to urinate frequently, urinate in small amounts, urinate in abnormal places, or experience pain while urinating. Uroliths cause irritation and inflammation to the bladder wall so blood tinged urine may be more commonly seen with this disease. Your pet may also experience persistent or frequently recurring UTIs despite treatment with antibiotics due to the bladder stones harboring the bacteria. 

How are Bladder Stones Diagnosed?

A veterinarian can diagnose bladder stones by:

  • Your pet’s history of symptoms
  • Palpating stones in the urinary bladder on physical examination
  • Finding specific types of crystals in your pet’s urine sample
  • Seeing stones within the urinary tract on X-ray

How are Uroliths treated?

  • Treat underlying conditions: Underlying conditions and diseases such as UTIs and liver disease are treated and managed appropriately to stop or reduce stone formations. 
  • Stone dissolution: Some stones can be broken up or dissolved by feeding a diet which promotes acidic urine.  A medicated diet is fed that reduces the urine pH to below 6.
  • Lithotripsy: Shock waves or lasers are used to break up stones into small enough particles to be urinated out
  • Surgical removal: Surgical removal via cystotomy is recommended if dissolution or lithotripsy is not an effective or viable option.  

Urolithiasis may cause a serious condition in cats and dogs called urethral obstruction. The term “blocked” is commonly used to describe urethral obstruction.

“Blocked” Cat (Urethral Obstruction)

Uroliths may also cause a urethral obstruction which is a MEDICAL EMERGENCY!  A urethral blockage occurs when a urolith becomes lodged in the urethra preventing the outflow of urine from the urinary bladder. The urinary bladder expands to full capacity and can even rupture. Male cats are more commonly affected by urethral blockage but dogs can also experience urethral blockages. Urethral obstruction is commonly referred to as being “blocked”. 

What are the Signs of a “Blocked” Cat or Dog?

This condition is very painful and pets will cry out when trying to urinate. Many attempts to urinate may not produce urine. The urine eventually backs up into the kidneys and disrupts appropriate filtration of toxins and wastes from the blood. Kidney dysfunction or bladder rupture leads to a life threatening condition called uremia where urea builds up in the blood. The excess of toxins and wastes in the blood cause depression, anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, coma and death within 3 days. 

What is the Treatment for a “Blocked” Cat or Dog?

Prompt, emergency medical treatment is warranted for this condition. A urinary catheter is passed to attempt to push the stone back into the bladder and restore the outflow of urine.  If a urinary catheter can not be passed then emergency surgery must be performed to release the blockage and provide a new route for urine outflow. Fluid therapy and an EKG will also be started to correct the uremia and monitor heart function.  

Prevention is Key

Careful monitoring and appropriate care for your pet can help to prevent urinary tract diseases. Providing plenty of clean, fresh water is very important to maintain good health and to help keep the urinary tract system functioning appropriately. Providing the appropriate diet for your pet’s age, life stage, activity level, and breed can help prevent excess mineral excretion and crystal formation. Urinary Bladder supplements can also support urinary tract health. Urinary tract supplements can help to maintain normal urine pH, support kidney function and also support immune system health. 

Fera Pet Organics Bladder Support For Cats and Dogs promotes a healthy bladder and urinary tract with all organic ingredients. Our supplement supports normal urine pH, enhances kidney function, supports immune function and can even reduce the frequency of UTIs. In our Bladder Support supplement you’ll find only the best organic ingredients to support your pets urinary health.

  • Organic Cranberry: Prevents bacteria from sticking to the bladder wall and reduces the recurrence of UTIs
  • D-mannose: A simple sugar that prevents bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall and may also be a good source of prebiotic.
  • Organic Marshmallow root: Inhibits bacterial growth and also helps to relax and soothe the bladder by reducing inflammation
  • Organic Astragalus root: Stimulates the immune system by inhibiting free radicals
  • Organic Stinging Nettle root: Helps relieve the constant urge to urinate and improves urine outflow and emptying of the urinary bladder

All Fera Pet Organic supplements are soy and dairy free, and do not contain any artificial colors, dyes, or harmful preservatives. All our supplements are veterinarian  formulated and backed by the National Animal Supplement Council’s quality seal. Each batch is quality tested for purity and potency by third party laboratories to guarantee the highest quality product for your pet companion. We only use the best quality ingredients in our supplements because that's what we would want for our pets. We hope our Bladder Support for Cats and Dogs supplement can help your pet stay healthy, happy, and active.

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