Who is loving this beautiful spring weather? So nice to be able to be out and about with family and friends (and our four-legged family members) enjoying the outdoors. This month has a couple of important dates to remember – 4th October is World Animal Day, which is a day dedicated to recognising animal rights and welfare. It’s a globally celebrated day that raises the awareness of animal welfare, and the move to make the world we live in a better and safer place for all animals. The other very special day is the 11th October which is Vet Nurse Day! This is an opportunity for the veterinary industry and vet practices to acknowledge the important role vet nurses play in their clinics. It’s also a time for pet owners and the wider community to say “thank you” to their local nurses for who they are, and what they do best.
So, with all this celebrating aside, let’s dive head first into this month’s topic – Urinary Tract Disease! It is a condition that is easily treated and diagnosed, but if left untreated can cause serious risks for our fur-kids. Urinary Tract Disease can include issues like urinary tract infections, incontinence, and the formation of crystals in the bladder, just to name a couple.
So what are the symptoms I should be looking out for?
Symptoms can include:
- Straining to urinate and passing little or no urine - this can indicate a blockage and requires immediate veterinary attention! Call & make an appointment if this is happening to your pet!
- Increased frequency and urge to urinate
- Blood in the urine or cloudy urine
- Incontinence (urinating when they aren’t supposed to)
- Inappropriate urination (going to the toilet in the wrong place!)
- Pain/vocalising when urinating
- Excessive licking/grooming of genitals
- Painful abdomen or lower back when being touched
As these symptoms can be similar across the number of urinary tract diseases, it is important to have your pet assessed and urine analysed by your veterinarian to determine the cause of the abnormality. Some urinary tract issues have no known cause as to why they occur in our pets (also known as being idiopathic), but there are some factors which can be in play. These include inability to urinate frequently (typically for pets who are confined indoors), lack or exercise, reduced water intake, and poor diet.
But have no fear! There is a way to diagnose and treat these conditions. The first step though is to make an appointment to see one of our lovely vets, who will perform a thorough examination. The key is to collect and test a fresh sample of urine, as this will tell us if the urine contains bacteria or other abnormalities. Now from experience, we realise that the ‘catching of the sample’ can be a bit tricky! Some pets will tolerate you quickly sliding a clean and dry container underneath them as they are going to the toilet, but others get a bit of stage fright! A good tip we have is to use an old soup ladle, as it’s less invasive and not as obvious to your pet. Cats can be a lot trickier to collect urine from, so luckily there is a solution for that too! Pearl litter is available from the clinic which is a clean, ‘pebble-like’ litter that can be used instead of normal litter to collect a fresh sample (and won’t be contaminated by normal litter). Once a sample is collected, we perform a complete urinalysis which includes checking the sample under the microscope.
OK – so what treatments are available for my pet?
Ah, so glad you asked! If caught early on, once examined by the Vet, they are prescribed antibiotics and sometimes pain relief. After the antibiotic course is finished, the vet will ask to repeat the urine test to make sure the infection has gone. If it’s not, they may need to prescribe another course of antibiotics.
If the issue is more serious, they may need to be hospitalised. For example, pets (in particular cats) can become blocked. Meaning, they have an obstruction in their urethra (the ‘pipe’ the urine comes out from the bladder in). If left untreated, their bladders can rupture, which sadly can lead to death. Cats that are blocked need to have the blockage cleared, meaning they will need to have an anaesthetic to have a tiny tube passed into their urethra to clear the blockage, and to make sure the tube is opened and urine can pass. Cats may need to stay in the clinic for a couple days on fluids to flush their bladders, making sure they can pass urine without re-blocking. Again, if caught early, this treatment can be avoided!
The thing with cats is they can develop urine issues due to the reasons we said above, but also due to stress. So it’s key to keep our kitties as stress free as possible. If you notice your feline’s urinating behaviour has changed, it’s definitely something to be aware of and to be checked out by a vet. Even if you’ve got a pooch who seems to not be able to control their bladder and do ‘little accidents’ inside, it’s a good idea to have the vet check out if there’s a problem with their plumbing!