Interstitial Cystitis in Dogs

Interstitial cystitis is a term that indicates an inflammation of the bladder and the walls of the bladder. This type of cystitis is not caused by an infectious agent, and is typically more difficult to treat.

Causes of Interstitial Cystitis in Dogs

The inflammation of the canine bladder or the walls of the bladder is most commonly caused by bacteria, viruses or other infectious agents. However, these cause cystitis in dogs. Interstitial cystitis is caused by different factors such as:

  • Injuries of the pelvic area
  • Acute or chronic kidney problems
  • Chronic urinary tract infections
  • Bladder stones
  • Kidney stones
  • Bladder tumors
  • Bladder cysts
  • Diet
  • Hereditary defects of the urinary tract

Dogs that receive certain drugs such as cyclophosphamides can also suffer from interstitial cystitis.

Symptoms of Canine Interstitial Cystitis

Interstitial cystitis in your pet can be a source of great pain, so you will observe your dog straining to urinate and possible crying during urination. Other symptoms of interstitial cystitis may include:

  • More frequent urination, but in limited amounts
  • Increased thirst
  • Blood in the urine
  • Mucus in the urine
  • Bloated appearance
  • Pain when touching the dog's stomach or pressing on the bladder
  • Lack of appetite, in advanced cases
  • Weight loss due to the lack of appetite
  • General state of weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Frequent vomiting, in advanced cases

Diagnosing Cystitis

Interstitial cystitis is also called sterile recurring cystitis, and can be diagnosed with a few clinical tests. A urine sample is necessary to detect if the dog has an infection. The vet has to differentiate between cystitis caused by viruses or bacteria and interstitial cystitis. The inflammation of the bladder and its walls can only be detected by performing x-rays and ultrasounds. These tests may also reveal the presence of tumors, cysts or bladder stones. The vet may palpate the dog's stomach to detect possible tumors, cysts or bladder stones, which can be felt if they are large enough.

Treatment Options for Canine Interstitial Cystitis

The treatment options for interstitial cystitis may vary, according to what the vet finds as a primary cause of the bladder inflammation. The treatment may be:

  • Medication, to dissolve bladder stones or to cure chronic urinary tract infections
  • Surgery, to remove kidney or bladder stones, polyps or tumors (when possible). Surgery will also be applied to fix certain birth defects
  • A change in diet

In some cases (i.e., when the interstitial cystitis is caused by the presence of polyps), the vet may not recommend any treatment, just some pain medication. If the tumors affecting the bladder are malignant, chemotherapy will be required so that the cells won't spread. If the interstitial cystitis is caused by drugs, the vet will recommend discontinuing them and prescribe a treatment with similar effects.