Blood In The Urine In Dogs

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Hematuria or blood present in the urine of dogs is not an uncommon finding. When urinating, a dog should not strain. An increase in frequency is also an indication that something is wrong. A normal urine sample from a dog can range from dark yellow to clear yellow depending on the concentration. An owner should not be able to visually see blood in the urine. The presence of blood in the urine can lead to a list of concerns, ranging from the most common like a urinary tract infection to the most severe like a bleeding disorder.

The common clinical signs associated with blood in the urine are inappropriate urination (like accidents in the house), frequent urination of small amounts, straining or trouble urinating, increase in frequency of urination, and drinking more water. Some animals will not show any signs at all. The more common concerns with seeing blood in the urine are a urinary tract infection, inflammation of the bladder (cystitis), bladder stones, enlarged prostate in un-neutered male dogs, and bladder neoplasia (cancer).

Female dogs more commonly develop urinary tract infections due to the shorter length of the urethra and the ability of bacteria to easily ascend it. Any age dog can be affected, but problems increase as animals age due to other conditions that predispose dogs to urinary issues. On physical examination, these animals can be uncomfortable upon the vet feeling the bladder, or there might be evidence of an underlying more serious problem that could lead to a bladder infection.

Causes of inflammation of the bladder or cystitis include crystals developing in a dog’s bladder due to the type of diet the animal is being fed, bladder infections, and bladder stones. The most common clinical sign with cystitis is blood in the urine. As the body breaks down the food in certain diets, it can lead to the formation of microscopic sediment (crystals) in the bladder, which can cause irritation to the bladder wall. If diagnosed early enough, diet changes can correct the problem, but left untreated, there is the potential for crystals to form bladder stones over time. Bladder stones can be very uncomfortable for dogs. Owners will not only witness blood in the urine, but some will actually see just blood at the end of the urination process. Very small stones also have the potential to get stuck in the urethra and cause a urinary blockage.

Un-neutered male dogs can have blood in the urine as they get older due to the development of an enlarged prostate. This is an age-related condition caused by a benign enlargement of the prostate due to the increased persistence of male hormones. This condition can be corrected by neutering.

Bladder cancer is more common in certain breeds of dogs like Scottish Terriers, Beagles, Shelties, and West Highland White Terriers. Middle-aged to older spayed female dogs are more prone to develop bladder cancer. The presence of blood in the urine is commonly seen but will persist despite antibiotics.

A veterinarian should see any dog with blood in the urine. Based on history, physical examination, and a urine sample analysis, the problem will be better understood. Urinary tract infections are commonly treated with appropriate antibiotics based on the urine sample. Sometimes, a sterile urine sample will need to be obtained. Certain diet changes might be recommended if crystals are seen persistently in the urine samples, especially if blood in the urine persists despite appropriate treatment. Further diagnostics are needed for dogs with bladder stones, enlarged prostates, and bladder cancer concerns. These tests include blood work and imaging like X-rays and ultrasound.

Other conditions that can cause blood in the urine include but are not limited to bleeding disorders, such as clotting factor deficiencies, thrombocytopenia, vasculitis, and coagulopathies; trauma; renal neoplasia; drug induced; infectious: viral, fungal, bacterial (leptospirosis); etc. All of these conditions would require further following up based on the recommendations by a veterinarian.