“Dr. Rannals, my dog has been going to the bathroom every few minutes and this morning she urinated on the floor and it had blood in it. Does she have bladder problems?”
Animals can often get the same conditions as humans. And just as humans are susceptible to urinary infections and stones, so are your dogs and cats. In fact, urinary problems are some of the more common things we see here in the clinic.
Cats and dogs with urinary bladder inflammation, called cystitis, typically have similar signs that include frequent urination (often small amounts of urine), blood in the urine, appearing to be straining to go, staying in the litter box longer than normal (cats), and often wetting at inappropriate locations. Cats will often wet outside the litter box, and often times on tile floors or in the bath tub. (Owners often tell me they think the cat is trying to tell them something.) Females seem to have this more often than males but not exclusively. When it occurs in males, it can become a critical life threatening situation, as males cats can become obstructed and cannot urinate. Male dogs also can develop very small stones that get lodged in the urethra and can cause partial or even complete obstructions. ANY MALE CAT showing these symptoms needs to be seen by a veterinarian a.s.a.p.
There are several factors that trigger these urinary episodes. Mineral content and pH of the main diet, genetic factors and sometimes certain types of bacteria may all play a part in the onset of cystitis. Although we think of these episodes as “infections,” they often are really “inflammations of the bladder” that then may lead to secondary infections. In other words, the bacteria may jump in onto an already inflamed bladder.
A more serious level of cystitis involves the formation of urinary bladder stones (called uroliths). These are not to be confused with gall stones that are common in people. As the bladder gets inflamed, sometimes mineral crystals in the bladder form that can irritate the bladder wall and may coalesce to form small stones. Think of them as snow flakes that build up to form snowballs, then large snowmen… OK, that’s gross.
We need to differentiate between just the inflammation/infection and the presence of actual stones. That’s why a lab workup is needed that usually involves some blood tests, urinalysis, and imaging (ultrasound, x-rays or both).
Treatment, obviously, depends on what we find after these tests. Cystitis may only require oral meds and possibly a dietary change. Bladder stones often require surgery. There are special prescription diets that will slowly dissolve certain types of stones, which can avoid surgery sometimes.
So if you think your dog or cat may have urinary bladder problems, let us help. For more information or to set up an appointment, call us at the Rannals Small Animal Hospital in Whitehouse, Tx at 903-839-7235.