Puppy bladder infections may be more common than we think and especially in small breed puppies.
When you think about it, young puppies tend to drink more and consequently urinate more than adults.
Their tiny pee spots may go undetected on a rug, so even the most caring small breed owners may not recognize a puppy bladder or urinary tract infection in their new puppy.
Even if these pee spots are noticed, most owners will assume it is all part of the housebreaking routine.
Small breed dogs are notorious for been harder to potty train than their larger cousins and will have numerous accidents before they are fully trained.
Owners generally understand this and are not likely to suspect anything other than typical house training issues.
As the name implies, it is an infection in the bladder and normally also along the urinary tract. These infections are caused by bacteria that enter the urinary tract from the outside.
Once bacteria enter, they multiply in the urinary tract. Vets will call these urinary tract infectionsor UTIs. If the infection moves into the bladder, causing the bladder to becomes inflamed, it is described as a puppy bladder infection.
In a healthy dog, the bladder is a sterile environment where bacteria are normally not present.
Another name for a puppy bladder infection is cystitis Other symptoms often accompany these problems, and the puppy becomes miserable.
Sadly we often mistake pottying mistakes for bladder infections and rather than treating the medical problem we try to treat it as a behavioral issue, which it is not.
Puppy bladder infections can occur in both genders, but in older dogs, it is the females that are most affected.
Bacteria that is already in the environment enters when the puppy urinates so those puppies with short legs, and cobby bodies are the most vulnerable.
In most cases, the puppy urinates and in so doing touches the ground or grass that is contaminated with the bacteria.
Bacteria that are most commonly associated with bacterial infections are Escherichia Coli, (E. Coli) Candida Albicans (C. Albicans) and Streptococcus Enterococcus. (S. Enterococcus) but others have been identified including fungal and viral infectious agents.
Puppies are susceptible because they have immature immune systems. A strong, mature immune system would naturally destroy the bacteria, preventing any from taking hold in the bladder for too long.
Puppies that do not drink enough water to flush out their systems are also vulnerable because the urine tends to remain in the bladder which is a fertile area for the bacterial growth.
Sometimes puppies that are confined and refuse to urinate in their sleeping area will end up with a contaminated bladder for the same reason.
Puppies placed on a vegetarian or high grain diet may be at risk because it tends to turn their urine alkaline.
A UTI can also be caused by other underlying problems such as cancer, diabetes, bladder stones, Cushings’ Disease or Renal Dysplasia. These issues are more common in older dogs.
As I previously noted, it is often difficult to identify symptoms in small dogs, especially young puppies. Typical symptoms are likely to include
So, just how do you determine if your puppy is having pottying mistakes or has a puppy bladder infection?
If you have ever had a urinary tract infection, you know how painful and irritating a bladder infection can be. It is best not to wait too long before calling your veterinarian, if you suspect that your puppy might have an infection.
If you do suspect that your dog may have a puppy bladder infection, it is highly recommended that you obtain a urine specimen.
The vet will diagnose the problem through a physical exam, urinalysis and possibly blood tests.
The urinalysis will consist of looking at the chemical make up, the pH, the presence of blood and sometimes the vet will also do a culture to determine what types of bacteria are present.
The physical exam includes palpating the puppy’s abdomen, and if she suspects any blockages, an x-ray or ultrasound may be performed.
The standard treatment for mild puppy bladder infections is antibiotics that need to be taken until they are all completed gone.
Clavamox is the drug of choice at least in the U.S. If the infection is severe, hospitalization may be required.
Plenty of fresh cool water should be offered.
Your vet may also prescribe a prescription dog food that will lower the pH of the urine keeping it on the acidic side.
If you are worried that the puppy is not drinking enough water, add warm water to the food for added moisture.
Sometimes the vet will recommend a cranberry extract to add to the dog’s diet after the dog is well to prevent or at least decrease the frequency of future urinary tract infections
Your puppy is going to be miserable, but in addition to that, severe bladder infections can move into the kidneys causing life threatening infections, renal failure or bladder rupture.
It is not worth waiting. If you suspect that your puppy is having a problem, a quick visit to the vet will confirm your suspicions.
There is no guarantee that your puppy will never have another UTI or bladder infection, but there are ways to reduce the chances of it returning.
For chronic problems sprinkling a little cranberry powder on food could keep your puppy free from new bladder infections.