Urethritis in Dogs

Urethritis is a condition that occurs in dogs when they suffer inflammation of the urethra. Urethritis can make it difficult for your dog to urinate, and it has a number of causes. Read on to learn more about urethritis in dogs.

Causes of Urethritis in Dogs

Urethritis usually occurs due to an infection or cancer in or near the urethra. This condition can also occur if the urethra suffers trauma. When urethritis occurs, the urethra becomes too narrow to allow urine to flow through normally. Causes of urethritis in dogs can include:

  • Bacterial infection of the bladder, prostate or vagina

  • Bladder stones

  • Injury to the bladder or urethra

  • Chronic active granulomatous urethritis

  • Squamous or transitional cell carcinoma

  • Use of a urinary catheter

Sometimes, urethritis occurs without an apparent cause. Vets call this idiopathic urethritis. 

Symptoms of Urethritis in Dogs

If your dog develops urethritis, he'll feel the need to empty his bladder more often and more urgently. This is because his inflamed urethra isn't passing urine as efficiently as it should. Your dog's urine might be bloody, and he might lose the ability to urinate altogether. Depending on the cause of your dog's urethritis, he could experience genital discharge or abdominal pain.

Diagnosing and Treating Urethritis in Dogs

Your vet will need a physical exam and a complete medical history in order to diagnose urethritis in your dog. Your vet will probably be able to feel your dog's swollen urethra by palpitating the area with his fingers. Blood and urine tests can help your vet pinpoint the cause of your dog's urethritis. X-rays can be helpful, especially if your vet suspects bladder stones; a biopsy of urethral tissue can diagnose most causes of urethritis in dogs.

Your dog's treatment will depend upon the cause of his urethritis. If your dog has bladder stones, tumors or a urinary catheter, your vet will need to remove the obstruction, possibly with surgery. If a bacterial infection is to blame, antibiotics can treat it.

If your dog has cancer, treatment may begin with surgery and continue chemotherapy or radiation treatment. If your vet can't find a cause for your dog's urethritis, or if your dog is suffering from chronic active granulomatous urethritis, then he will prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve your dog's symptoms.

Preventing Urethritis in Dogs

It can be difficult to prevent canine urethritis, because it has so many different causes. You can help keep bladder, prostate and vaginal infections from developing into urethritis by having them treated right away. Most urinary tract problems can cause urethritis, so see your vet as soon as possible if your dog develops urinary symptoms. 

If your dog is diagnosed with urethritis, follow your vet's instructions carefully and administer all medications as per his instructions. Monitor your dog's progress as he recovers; if his symptoms do not get better or worsen, it could mean something else is causing his urethritis. Call your vet if your dog fails to improve with treatment, or if his symptoms worsen.