How to Tell Dog Has UTI

Dr. Joe Alcorn, M.S., D.V.M.

Dr. Joe Alcorn is founder of Care Animal Hospital in Temecula, California. He has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Colorado State University. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and his advice has been featured in large publications like Bustle and Martha Stewart.

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Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are not uncommon in dogs. Most of the time, this is caused by a bacteria infection. This infection can be quite painful and discomforting to your dog and if left untreated it can lead to worse conditions in the kidney or prostate. Read on to find out how to tell if dog has a UTI and what to do.

How to Tell If Dog Has a UTI

Any dog can suffer from a UTI; however, it is more common in female dogs or those with an underlying health condition. These include dogs with a weak immune system, diabetes, or bladder stones.  

Two dogs wearing a leash out for a walk

There are a few telltale signs to point out a UTI in your dog. However, some dogs are not symptomatic and you might not notice any sign of a UTI until your trip to the vet. So, what are a few symptoms to look out for?

Change in Urinary Habits

If you notice changes in your dog’s urinary pattern, it might be signs of a UTI. A few other signs include:

  • Frequent urination 
  • Strained or dribbling urine
  • Crying or painful noises while peeing 
  • Cloudy urine
  • Strong offensive odor from the dog’s urine
  • Blood in the urine
  • Difficulty urinating 

All these signs are common UTI symptoms that require immediate attention. Other symptoms include: 

  • Dehydration
  • Weight loss 
  • Lethargy
  • Fever 
  • Severe back and body pain

Veterinary Check-Ups

As we mentioned earlier, not all dogs show symptoms of a UTI infection. Even with these signs discussed above, you might still be unable to tell if and when your dog has a UTI. This is why regular checkups with your vet are important. Your vet would notice signs that you cannot and run further exams to confirm this.

The most common tests are urinalysis and urine culture. This would help the vet check for bacterial growth or other causes of a UTI. If a UTI is confirmed, these tests also point out the specific cause of the infection and help determine the best course of treatment.

What Causes UTI in Dogs?

A UTI mostly occurs in dogs due to the presence of bacteria in the bladder. Several bacteria and fungi can cause a UTI in canines. Of these bunch, E.Coli seems to be the most common of all. The presence of bacteria in the bladder means that urine cannot remain sterile as it should normally. 

Dog having trouble peeing

The bacteria not only reproduce and cause a buildup that leads to the UTI infection. It can also cause bladder stones or spread to the kidney and cause worse health problems.

There are also a few other health conditions that can lead to a build of bacteria in the bladder, causing UTIs. They include: 

  • Spinal cord injuries 
  • Congenital disorders
  • Prostate cancer or diseases 
  • Kidney stones 
  • Bladder stones or tumors
  • Weak bladder
  • Cancer

You cannot be sure of the primary cause of a UTI until you visit the vet for a proper diagnosis. Knowing the primary cause can help you prevent future reoccurrences, and adopt the right treatment plan.

How Do You Prevent UTI in Dogs?

More often than not a healthy dog is at less risk of catching a UTI. By making sure your dog eats a balanced meal often, drinks water regularly, and gets enough exercise you would be reducing its chances of catching an infection. Dogs with a strong immune system also stand a better chance of fighting off these infections.

To prevent repeated recurrence, you would need to follow your vet’s recommendations. Most times this can include:

Your vet can advise better based on the results of the test, your dog’s current health, and your health history.

How Do You Treat UTI in Dogs?

There are a few ways to treat a urinary tract infection in your dog. These remedies can either be done by using medicines, or through surgery depending on the severity of the Infection.


Medications should also be used in prescribed doses to avoid health complications. You should only use medicine prescribed by your vet on your dog. 

Woman checking if her dog has UTI
  • Antibiotics: Depending on the primary cause of the infection, your vet could prescribe antibiotics or other medications. You should make sure your dog completes the entire course to prevent stronger reoccurrence.
  • Anti-Inflammatory: These are often recommended to reduce the pain associated with the UTI and make your dog comfortable
  • Dietary changes: A change in diet might be recommended to help control your dog’s urine acidity level.


In cases of bladder stones or other non-bacterial causes, surgery may be required. Depending on the results of the urine test, it isn’t uncommon for the vet to request an X-ray for further diagnosis.

Your vet should schedule another urinalysis once the treatment is completed. This is to confirm that the UTI is gone and your dog has no other infection.

Why Should You Treat UTI in Dogs?

Urinary tract infections, when left untreated, can lead to serious medical complications for the dog. Aside from the discomfort and pain, the dog would experience during this period, leaving infections untreated could cause blockage of the urinary system. This would ultimately lead to a build-up of waste and toxins that can cause septic shock or death in the worst cases.

If your dog’s UTI is caused by another underlying condition such as bladder stones, leaving it untreated could also worsen the dog’s health and invite other ailments. Most of these lead to eventual death when it’s not quickly diagnosed and treated.

Seeking professional advice and treatment for your dog as soon as you notice something wrong not only alleviates whatever pain they might be feeling. It also keeps you assured they are in good health. 


UTIs in dogs can either be a result of a bacterial infection or other extreme underlying health conditions. In either case, it should not be left untreated. It is advisable to always seek proper diagnosis and treatment recommendations once you can tell a dog has a UTI.