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How to Treat a Dog UTI at Home: 11 Steps To Fixing A Canine Urinary Tract Infection - PawSafe

How to Treat a Dog UTI at Home: 11 Steps To Fixing A Canine Urinary Tract Infection

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

how to treat a dog with UTI at home

If your pup’s been acting a bit off lately and you suspect it’s a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), you’re probably searching for ways to offer relief from the comfort of home. This is especially true for pet parents with spayed female dogs, where UTIs can be recurring and extremely common nasty infections.

So, UTIs in dogs are more common than you’d think, and while it’s essential to consult a veterinarian for any health concerns, there are some home remedies and insights that might help in the meantime. 

Throughout this article, we’ll delve deep into strategies grounded in expert research. In fact, we’ll lean heavily on the work of Dr. Joe Bartges, DVM, and Dr. Claudia Kirk, DVM, who have extensively studied the nutritional management of canine urinary tract diseases. So, buckle up, grab a notebook, and let’s dive into the world of dog UTIs!

Hydration and proper diet can prevent future infections.

Before we dive into a complete guide for how to treat a dog’s UTI, let’s briefly take a moment to understand what they are.

Understanding Canine UTIs

A Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) in dogs occurs when bacteria invade the urinary tract, leading to inflammation and discomfort. UTIs can affect any part of the urinary system, from the kidneys to the bladder.

Signs & Symptoms:

A Step-by-Step Guide to Managing a Canine UTI at Home

Navigating through the woes of your dog’s urinary tract infection (UTI) might feel overwhelming, but with a few evidence-based insights, you can make the journey smoother. Here’s a step-by-step guide grounded in expert research:

1. Consult Your Veterinarian First

Before diving into any home remedies for canine UTIs, it’s vital to ensure that your dog is indeed dealing with a UTI and not something else. Similar symptoms can arise from conditions like kidney stones.

A veterinarian’s diagnosis will offer clarity and ensure that you’re addressing the right issue.

2. Address Underlying Health Issues

Recognize that bacterial urinary tract infections often occur more frequently in animals with health conditions such as diabetes mellitus, hyperadrenocorticism, chronic renal failure, and hyperthyroidism. Proper management, including diet, can help prevent recurrent UTIs.

It’s also important to make sure your dog really has a UTI, and not another condition like Kidney stones, which you can see in the x-ray image above.

Obesity, a common nutritional disorder in pets, can increase the risk of UTIs. Prioritize a balanced diet and regular exercise to help your canine maintain a healthy weight.

3. Hydrate Your Dog

Keeping your dog well-hydrated can aid in flushing out bacteria from the urinary system and reduce the risk of infections. For tips and tricks on ensuring your dog gets enough water, check out this guide on how to hydrate a dog.

4. Understand Diet’s Role & Urinary PH

Contrary to popular belief, Dr. Bartges says that feeding an acidifying diet or adding urinary acidifiers does not prevent recurrent bacterial UTIs. Bacteria can survive in a pH range from 4 to 9. However, we will discuss what we will cover what you need to know about urinary PH and how you can influence it through diet.

Acidifying urine is mainly proven beneficial for certain types of kidney and bladder stones, some believe it may assist UTIs. Now, keep in mind, this is tricky territory because while alkaline urine can cause some kinds of kidney stones, acidic urine can cause other kinds. So, it’s not uncommon for your vet to prescribe a prescription dog food for oxalate kidney stones, only for the dog to get struvite stones a few months later.

But the point here is, changing your dog’s urinary PH is more for kidney stones than it is for UTIs. But it may still help. So let’s look at how you can affect your dog’s urinary acidity.

To achieve more acidic urine, you can introduce methionine to your dog’s diet. This amino acid is a precursor to taurine and generally safe for dogs without specific health concerns.

  • Start by using a litmus test to check your dog’s urinary PH. Collect their urine and use a simple litmus to see if the pee is above the 6 to 6.5 range. If it is, you can add methionine supplements to your dogs diet.
  • Dosage: 100 mg twice daily is fine for dogs that are medium-sized or smaller. Bigger dogs can get 200 mg twice daily.Keep an eye on the urinary PH with regular litmus tests to monitor how much you need to supplement.

Can I give my dog Apple Cider Vinegar for a UTI?

Many websites suggest Apple cider vinegar as a natural remedy for a dog UTI. A study published in Nature investigated the antimicrobial capacity of ACV against three microorganisms: E. coli, S. aureus, and C. albicans and found that it was quite effective. However, research on its efficacy against UTIs is still inconclusive and it has not been tested on dogs so we don’t recommend it at this stage.

5. Ensure Your Dog Pees Often

Just like in humans, letting urine sit in the bladder for extended periods can increase the chances of bacteria multiplying, leading to infections. Ensure your dog has frequent opportunities to relieve itself throughout the day. This will help flush out bacteria and reduce the risk of a UTI becoming established.

6. Teach Your Dog to Pee on Command

Training your dog to pee when instructed can be beneficial, especially if you’re trying to ensure they empty their bladder fully. Start by using a specific word or phrase every time they pee naturally. Over time, they’ll associate that command with the act of urinating. This can be especially helpful during UTI treatments to ensure they’re expelling as much bacteria as possible.

7. Ensure Complete Bladder Emptying

After your dog has peed once, give the command again to encourage them to empty any remaining urine. This ensures that no urine, which could contain bacteria, remains behind in the bladder. Over time, with consistent reinforcement, this can become a routine for the dog, further aiding in the prevention and treatment of UTIs.

8. Consider Cranberry Extract

Cranberries contain compounds that might prevent specific bacteria, like E. coli, from adhering to the urinary tract.

Although widely available and used, controlled clinical trials supporting the preventative role of cranberries are limited. An in vitro study with canine cells did not show conclusive benefits. Still, plenty of anecdotal evidence does suggest that adding cranberry extract or even cranberry juice to your dog’s water can help get rid of the bacteria.

9. Explore Probiotics & Kefir

A study in Science Direct that talks about how just like women, healthy female dogs have a good amount of LAB (Lactic Acid Bacteria) in their vaginas. These LABs are actually superheroes in disguise; they fight off the bad guys (pathogens) and could be useful in dealing with UTIs in dogs. 

But hold up! Dr. Hutchins and the gang from this other study found something different. They tried giving oral probiotics to increase vaginal LAB in dogs but found out that these LABs are not usually in the vaginas of dogs. And the probiotics? They didn’t change things much. However, this may be due to the fact that many human probiotics just don’t survive in a dog’s gut. So, let’s not rule it out.

There’s another twist in the story. Kefir, the fermented drink, might be our UTI-fighting hero. A study on the good stuff in kefir found that some strains of Lactobacillus from kefir can really mess with the Uropathogenic Escherichia coli (a big villain in UTIs). In Particular, Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus paracasei strains came out shining, showing they might help in handling infections.

In a nutshell? While there’s potential in using probiotics against UTIs in dogs, it seems kefir might be leading the way.

10. Look into Botanicals and Other Natural Remedies or Supplements

1. Couch Grass (Agropyron repens)

This grass has traditionally been used for urinary issues, including UTIs. It may help soothe the urinary tract and act as a diuretic to flush out bacteria.

  • Safe Dosage: Typically, a tea can be made by steeping 1 teaspoon of the dried herb in a cup of hot water, then giving 1/4 to 1/2 cup to the dog, depending on size, twice daily.

2. Bearberry (Uva Ursi)

Known for its urinary antiseptic properties, it may help disinfect and soothe the urinary tract.

  • Safe Dosage: For a tincture, give 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon per 20 pounds of the dog’s weight, once or twice daily. But it’s essential not to use it for extended periods.

3. Parsley Leaf

Parsley acts as a diuretic, helping the body eliminate more urine and potentially flushing out bacteria.

  • Safe Dosage: A tea made from parsley can be given – 1/4 cup to small dogs, 1/2 cup to medium dogs, and 3/4 cup to large dogs, twice daily.

4. Horsetail

This herb might help with UTIs due to its antibacterial properties and its ability to tone the urinary tract’s mucus membranes.

  • Safe Dosage: For tinctures, typically 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon per 20 pounds of the dog’s weight, once or twice daily.

5. Marshmallow Root

This herb is known to soothe and coat the urinary tract, potentially helping relieve any irritation.

  • Safe Dosage: For tinctures, usually 0.5 to 1.5 ml per 20 pounds of the dog’s weight, once or twice daily. For dried herb in capsules, 1 capsule per 20 pounds of weight, once or twice daily.

Mannose, a supplement, may inhibit certain bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract, though clinical evidence is scanty.

Remember, before giving any natural remedies or changing your dog’s diet, it’s essential to consult with your vet. What works for one dog might not be suitable for another, and it’s crucial to ensure safety and effectiveness.

11. Keeping the Urinary Area Clean To Prevent Canine UTI’s: A Gentle Approach

Cleanliness plays an indispensable role in managing and preventing UTIs. Maintaining a neat and hygienic urinary area for your dog can significantly reduce the chances of bacterial buildup. Let’s explore the best practices to keep this area pristine without causing any harm.

1. Avoid Soaps and Shampoos

  • It’s tempting to reach for a cleansing agent, but it’s best to steer clear of soaps and shampoos. These can disrupt the delicate microflora of your dog’s urinary area, potentially causing more harm than good.
  • Instead, rely on plain water to gently cleanse the area. It’s effective in removing debris and potential irritants without disturbing the natural balance.

2. Address Weight Concerns

  • Overweight dogs often have folds around the vulva, which can become havens for bacteria. Reducing your dog’s weight not only brings numerous health benefits but also helps in keeping the urinary area free from bacterial buildup.
  • Regular exercise and a balanced diet can assist in weight management.

3. Trimming the Fur

  • Long or excessive fur around the urinary area can trap bacteria and yeast, increasing the risk of infections.
  • Use a pair of clean, sharp scissors or grooming clippers to trim the fur around the area. If you’re unsure about doing this yourself, consider seeking assistance from a professional groomer.

4. Regular Check-ups

  • Inspect your dog’s urinary area regularly for signs of redness, swelling, or discharge. If you spot anything unusual, it’s a cue to consult your veterinarian.

Maintaining cleanliness without causing disruption to the natural state of your dog’s urinary region is essential. By following these gentle approaches, you can ensure your dog’s comfort and health in the long run.

12. Stay Educated and Flexible

Remember that while many canine and feline urinary disorders might not directly link to dietary factors, they can still benefit from nutritional management.

It’s crucial to grasp the underlying causes of urinary tract diseases and the influence of food and feeding. Staying informed will help you devise the best nutritional and treatment plan for your furry friend.

Remember, while dietary changes can assist in managing and preventing UTIs, they should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult with your veterinarian before making significant alterations to your dog’s diet or administering supplements.

Final Thoughts

Urinary tract infections in dogs are common but treatable. While there are several home remedies and preventative measures to consider, it’s essential to remember that every dog is unique. What works for one may not work for another. Always consult with your veterinarian before making significant changes to your dog’s care or diet. Remember, early detection and appropriate treatment are crucial to ensuring your furry friend’s health and happiness. Stay informed, observe your dog, and act promptly to address any concerns.

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe

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Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.