Urinary Tract Infections, Bladder Infections

A urinary tract infection (UTI) can occur anytime the army of bacteria existing in the moist area outside the urinary opening decides to march up the urethra, especially if your pet does not urinate often enough (at least every 6 hours). The bacteria proliferate in the bladder urine, and from there to the kidneys. These infections occur mostly in female dogs, but are also increasingly seen in male dogs. The most common organisms that cause UTIs are Escherichia coli, Streptococcus, Enterococcus, Staphylococcus, Enterobacter, Proteus, Klebsiella, and Pseudomonas. E. coli is the most common organism found in canine and feline urine. Bladder infection, also called cystitis, is very common in female dogs (particularly spayed female dogs).

Some experts believe that urinary tract infections are directly related to diet in both cats and dogs. Dry commercial pet foods are often contaminated with bacteria, which may or may not cause problems. Improper food storage and some feeding practices may result in the multiplication of E. coli. For example, adding water or milk to moisten pet food and then leaving it at room temperature causes bacteria to multiply. Yet this practice is suggested on the back of packages of some kitten and puppy foods.

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Recurrent or untreated UTIs are a significant problem, because they can cause progressive scarring of the bladder and kidney failure. In one study, urinary tract infection was suggested to be the cause of the bacterial arthritis. Certain medications and diseases can predispose your pet to the development of UTI. Antibiotics, corticosteroids, glucocorticoids, diabetes, tumors, and urogenital diseases, such as epididymitis. Recurrent and persistent UTI are most commonly seen in middle-aged to older German Shepherd Dogs, Miniature and Toy Poodles, and Labrador Retrievers. Treatment of these conditions can effectively prevent recurrent urinary tract infections.

Obesity may increase the risk of UTIs through several mechanisms. Firstly, obese animals are more likely to suffer from arthritis and joint pain, with overall reduced mobility. This reluctance to move can cause animals to void their urine less often and give bacteria a better opportunity to adhere to the bladder walls. Severely obese animals are also more likely to have infections within the skin folds surrounding the tail base and perineal areas. Ascension of bacteria from the perineal, rectal, and genital areas are the most common sources of bacterial UTIs.2

German shepherd pup

Urinary tract infections are usually treated with antibiotics. Dietary therapy is a useful preventive measure for pets with urinary tract infections. Generally, the same diet prescribed for controlling struvite bladder stones is recommended for dogs and cats with chronic urinary tract infections. If processed foods must be fed, most holistic veterinarians prefer canned foods, which contain large amounts of water, rather than dry foods. Since most infections commonly occur in alkaline urine (urine with a high pH), diets should help maintain an acidic urine (low pH) as much as possible. Vegetarian or cereal-based diets are more likely to cause an alkaline urine, while animal-based protein promotes acidic urine.

One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to take advantage of the benefits of cranberries in preventing or treating urinary tract infections is to drink cranberry juice. Cranberry juice does not inhibit bacterial growth or has effect on the pH of the urine. Rather, the positive effect of cranberry juice can be attributed to inhibition of bacterial adherence to the cell walls of the urinary tract. Proanthocyanidins (condensed tannins) from cranberry appear to be the compounds responsible fro preventing pathogenic bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract.1 Cran-Max is an extract made from 100 percent cranberry fruit solids through a highly effective process that intensifies the natural benefits of the whole cranberry. It is more powerful and works faster in treating UTIs than cranberry juice because of its time-release mechanism that protects it from destruction by stomach acids.


  1. Mandell, Douglas and Bennett's principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases
  2. Prevalence of asymptomatic urinary tract infections in morbidly obese dogs. Susan G. Wynn,corresponding author1,2 Angela L. Witzel,2 Joseph W. Bartges,3 Tamberlyn S. Moyers,2 and Claudia A. Kirk2 PeerJv.4; 2016



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