What Pet Parents Should Know About UTIs In Dogs

Get the scoop on urinary tract infections.

dog UTI

If your pup starts needing to use the bathroom more than usual, you might be worried about her, especially if she starts going in the house!

If your dog’s potty trained and starts having accidents inside, it can be a sign that something more serious might be going on. In some cases, a urinary tract infection (UTI) will cause bladder issues in pups, which will require a treatment plan from your vet.

We reached out to Dr. Aliya McCullough, a veterinarian on staff at Fetch by The Dodo, to learn more about UTIs in dogs so you can help your pup feel healthy again.

UTI symptoms in dogs

According to Dr. McCullough, these are the common signs of a UTI in dogs:

  • Frequent urination
  • Straining while urinating
  • Urinating small amounts at a time
  • Accidents in the house
  • Excessively licking their genitals
  • Bloody urine

Causes of UTIs in dogs

There are a number of things that can cause UTIs in dogs and some factors that make your pup more likely to get one.


A dog’s genitalia get exposed to a lot of things that contain bacteria, from urine and poop to random stuff on the ground. “Dogs get UTIs when bacteria from the external genitalia or the urethra (tube that connects bladder to the external genitalia) travels to the bladder,” Dr. McCullough told The Dodo.

Underlying urinary problems

A UTI can be a sign of underlying urinary issues, such as bladder stones, kidney infections, cancer or congenital abnormalities, Dr. McCullough said.

Medical conditions

“Certain medical conditions can predispose dogs to UTIs, including diabetes, Cushing’s disease, kidney disease, bladder stones or congenital urinary tract abnormalities,” Dr. McCullough said.


Female dogs are more likely to get UTIs because of the size and position of their urethras. Their urethras are shorter and wider, “making it easier for bacteria to move into the bladder,” Dr. McCullough said.

Diagnosing UTIs in dogs

When you take your dog to the vet for a UTI, they’ll likely ask for a urine sample from your pup to test it for bacteria, which is known as a urinalysis.

“When evaluating a urine sample, veterinarians will look for abnormalities, such as the presence of bacteria, white blood cells and red blood cells,” Dr. McCullough said. “In some cases, a bacterial culture is necessary to identify the exact species of bacteria and the appropriate antibiotic choice.”

Some dogs could still have an infection even if their urinalysis doesn’t show white blood cells, so vets will perform a bacterial culture to be sure. To do this, the vet will send your pup’s urine sample to a lab for them to grow the bacteria. If bacteria grows, they’ll know she has an infection.

Your vet might perform some other tests, too, like X-rays or an abdominal ultrasound, to rule out any underlying issues, Dr. McCullough said.

Treatment for UTIs in dogs

Luckily, UTIs are pretty easy to treat.

For a simple UTI (meaning it’s not associated with other illnesses), your vet will prescribe oral antibiotics.

“A complicated UTI may require an extended course of antibiotics,” Dr. McCullough said. “In some cases, pain medication may be recommended to keep dogs comfortable.” Complicated UTIs are associated with an underlying illness or are recurring.

While UTIs themselves aren’t that serious, when they go untreated, they can lead to other illnesses, like kidney infections. And since UTIs can also be a sign of an underlying issue that needs treatment, it’s important to get your dog checked out if she’s having symptoms.

UTIs are pretty common in dogs, and some dogs might end up needing treatment for a few of them over time. Having pet insurance can save you a lot of headaches over the cost of treatments, and you won’t have to worry about being able to pay for them.

(If you're looking for pet insurance, you’ll want to check out Fetch by The Dodo because it's made by and for adoring pet parents, and it's the most comprehensive coverage in the U.S. and Canada, covering things that other providers don't or charge extra for, like prescribed supplements.)

How to prevent UTIs in dogs

There are some things you can do to help reduce the chances of your pup developing a UTI, like:

  • Make sure your dog gets plenty of bathroom breaks.
  • Give your pup plenty of water. Drinking water helps flush bacteria from the urinary tract.
  • Keep your dog’s butt area clean and groomed.
  • Give your dog probiotics to support her immune system.

Your dog might be super uncomfortable if she gets a UTI, but luckily UTIs in dogs are easy to treat, so your pup can get back to her playful self in no time.