Diagnosing Cystitis in Dogs

Cystitis in dogs may develop when bacteria enters into the bladder from the urethra. This type of infection is called bacterial cystitis. There are predisposing factors that can increase the risk for a dog to develop cystitis. Dogs that have weak immune systems may be more prone to urinary infections. Dogs that take certain prescribed medications may be more likely to develop cystitis. It is important for your veterinarian to know all of the medications that your dog takes on a regular basis.

Dogs with sugar in their urine, which may be a symptom of diabetes mellitus, may have an increased chance of developing cystitis. Dogs that have trouble emptying their bladder completely when they urinate may also be more prone to developing urinary infections.

Symptoms of Cystitis in Dogs

The dog's physical symptoms need to be evaluated by the veterinarian when diagnosing cystitis. The possible symptoms of cystitis in dogs include the following:

  • Frequent urination
  • Urinating in inappropriate places, even though the dog has been properly house trained
  • Painful urination
  • Cloudy urine, abnormal color
  • Difficult urination
  • Possible blood in the urine

It is possible for dogs to have cystitis with no obvious symptoms of the infection. Dogs that have been prescribed steroid medication for an extended period of time are known to develop urinary infections without experiencing the common symptoms.

Diagnosing Cystitis in Dogs

A urinalysis sample, along with a urine culture and sensitivity are usually ordered by the veterinarian to properly diagnose cystitis in dogs. There may be an increased white blood cell count and bacteria in the dog's urine if he has cystitis.

Based on the urine culture and sensitivity results, the veterinarian may prescribe appropriate antibiotics to be given by mouth for 10 to 14 days for acute cystitis. It is not uncommon for the vet to check the dog's urine sample after the dog is finished with his antibiotic treatment. The vet will check to see if the dog's infection is completely gone.

Some dogs may develop recurrent infections or chronic cystitis, and the veterinarian may prescribe low-dose maintenance antibiotics to be taken over a longer period of time. This may help to prevent future urinary infections and decrease the risk of infection spreading into the kidney. It is important that the medication is given as prescribed by the veterinarian for the correct time period. Relapse of cystitis in dogs is often due to inadequate treatment of antibiotics. Urine samples may need to be checked every one to three months to follow the dog's progress.

There are additional diagnostic tests that may be ordered to rule out any other underlying medical problems, such as stones, tumors or birth defects. Ultrasonography or x-rays may be ordered for this purpose. The vet may decide to order specific blood tests to check for other diseases that may increase the risk of urinary infection.

Prevention of Cystitis in Dogs

It may be helpful to encourage your dog to urinate more frequently to help prevent future infections. It is also beneficial to have fresh, clean water routinely available for your dog to drink, unless you need to monitor his fluid intake for other health reasons.