Urinary System
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NJ Veterinary Medical Association
390 Amwell Road, Suite 402
Hillsborough, NJ 08844
Phone:  908-281-0918
Fax:  908-450-1286

Health Concerns: Urinary System

Dear Veterinarian:
My dog seems to have a problem on and off with urinating blood. I know this can't be normal. What is causing it?

Dear Pet Owner:
Blood in the urine is also known as hematuria, and it is not normal. One of the most common causes is a bacterial infection in the urine. This is commonly referred to as cystitis (although cystitis-which is inflammation of the bladder, can be caused by other things besides bacteria). Bacteria can cause an infection, and hence the inflammation and irritation. Your dog will feel the need to urinate more frequently even though there is only a small amount of urine left in the bladder. Sometimes your pet will appear to strain to urinate. He may also want to go out more often, or urinate in strange places. A urinalysis is the best test to check for a bladder infection. You will have to collect a urine sample, at least several tablespoons worth. The fresher the better and refrigerate the sample until you can bring it to your veterinarian. For recurrent bladder infections, a cystocentesis will be done to help identify the exact bacteria causing the problem. Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections of the urine. A follow-up urine sample and /or culture is done again after antibiotics are finished. Another cause of bloody urine can be stones in the bladder. Stones can form due to infection, diet, or the particular environment in your pet’s bladder, and are comprised of different types of crystals. The crystals and stones rub on the bladder wall causing irritation and bleeding. Some crystals and stones can be helped with diet, others need to be removed surgically. Stones are also a potential problem in male dogs as they may become stuck in the urethra and cause a serious obstruction.

Male dogs that are not neutered can develop blood in the urine due to inflammation of their prostate gland. Dogs can also get abscesses and tumors in their prostate. Neutering your pet as a puppy will help prevent these problems.

Be sure to speak to your veterinarian as soon as you see a change in your pet’s urinary habits. Depending on the cause, early intervention and an ounce of prevention may add years to your pet’s life.


Dear Veterinarian:
My 10-year-old female cat has had chronic problems with bladder infections. The symptoms seem to clear up readily with antibiotics, but then recur some weeks to months later. Is there any relief for my cat?

Dear Pet Owner:
Cystitis, or infection of the urinary bladder can be chronic in some breeds of cats. There may be many reasons for the chronicity of your pet’s bladder problem. You and your veterinarian should work together to solve her problem and here are some suggestions.

An x-ray or ultra-sound of the bladder might reveal bladder stones or cystic calculi. These can serve as sources for reinfection. Surgery is usually required to remove these stones.

A culture and sensitivity is a laboratory test that can be done on a urine sample. This test grows any bacteria found in the urine out onto an agar plate. These bacteria are identified and then tested against a panel of antibiotics. You can then determine which antibiotic will be effective in treating the infection. Some bacteria strains are resistant to many antibiotics and this might be why your cat is having recurrent infections.

In addition to these tests, a blood panel can determine if the kidneys are functioning normally. Occasionally a bladder infection can travel up to and involve the kidneys. Sometimes the right antibiotic has been used but not for a long enough time. Most bladder infections should be treated with antibiotics for a minimum of 6-8 weeks.

As you can see, it often takes more than a few days of pills to deal with a chronic bladder infection. Often times, after a complete work-up, your veterinarian will recommend dietary changes or might determine that your cat’s problems aren’t physical at all, but behavioral. Also, the problem of chronic cystitis in male cats presents a whole different set of issues. Good luck with your cat.

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