Bacterial Urinary Tract Infection

Posted on June 12, 2015

Bacterial Urinary Tract Infections, UTI’s are infections of the urinary system.  They most commonly affect the bladder as bacterial cystitis. UTI’s are more common in female dogs, and older cats. UTI’s can occur with other concurrent diseases.

A UTI occurs when bacteria enters the urinary tract and multiplies while an animal’s immunities are temporarily or permanently down.   A veterinarian will collect a urine sample by a procedure called a cystocentesis.  A needle is inserted into the bladder, removing urine to place it under a microscope looking for bacteria or white blood cells.  White blood cells denote inflammation, but do not necessarily confirm a UTI.  It is also possible for a UTI to be present without revealing white blood cells or bacteria.  A urine culture can be performed by a laboratory growing bacteria on culture plates for confirmation.  If bacteria are present and grow, the organism can be identified performing an antimicrobial susceptibility.  It takes one day for bacteria to grow and one to two days for identification and antimicrobial susceptibility testing.

Other testing that may be performed;

1.       Blood work

2.       X-rays

3.       Ultrasound

4.       Scoping

Animals suffer differing symptoms depending on the area of infection in the urinary system.  Some symptoms include;

1.       Urgency and irritation

2.       Blood in urine (hematuria)

3.       Difficulty in urinating (stranguria)

4.       Foul-smelling urine

5.       Inability to hold urine

6.       Urinating small amounts

7.       Inability to pass urine

8.       Urination inappropriate areas of the house

Infections can involve the kidneys, reproductive systems, uterus, prostate and result in an animal displaying fever, pain, lethargy, vomiting, blood in urine, and lack of appetite.  However, the symptoms do not always mean a UTI is present.  Symptoms can be associated with other diseases such as chronic kidney failure, feline leukemia virus, bladder stones, and more.


Antibiotics are used to treat uncomplicated UTI’s for 10 to 14 days.  The length can be altered by such factors as the age of the animal, type of animal, sensitivities to antibiotics, reoccurrences, type of bacteria, and other complicating factors.

Complicated UTI’s that occur along with other complicating diseases should be treated with antibiotics for 3-6 weeks, accompanied with a urine culture evaluation midway during treatment and after treatment.  Older cats usually have a complicating chronic kidney failure, as young cats infrequently have UTI’s.  Diabetes mellitus and Cushing’s disease are examples of complicate accompanying diseases.  A veterinarian should periodically evaluate a pet when it has reoccurrence.  In some animals, a urinary antiseptic or antibiotic must be given long term to prophylactically prevent UTI’s with a low dose of antibiotic given once a day at night.