Diagnosing Canine Urinary Disease: You Are Your Dog's Greatest Ally

You likely don't spend a lot of time worrying about the health of your dog's urinary tract. Your dog's urinary system can be a source of problems from minor irritations to renal disease or certain cancers. But your dog's urinary system is not just a source of problems, it and its urinary output are a treasure chest of diagnostic information and a vital diagnostic tool for many diseases and conditions. 

That's where you, as your pup's primary caregiver, can play an important role in helping to detect problems in your furry friend's urinary tract health as well as his or her overall health. Report any changes in color, frequency, and amount of urine to your veterinarian immediately, before a minor concern becomes a serious problem. Here are some possible causes of these types of changes.


A dog's inability to hold his or her urine, resulting in accidents around the house, is often the first signal that something is wrong. However, it can have a wide variety of causes. Incontinence can be caused by spinal cord injury or disease, urinary tract infections, hormonal imbalances or simply old age. Or it can be due to increased fluid intake because of conditions such as diabetes, certain medications or changes to your pet's environment. Don't simply chalk it up to bad behavior. Try to determine the underlying cause so you can effectively treat it. If it is primary incontinence with no other associated cause, you can control it with medications.

Urinary Tract Infections

One of the first things you need to rule out is a urinary tract infection (UTI). A UTI is a bacterial infection that begins in the urethra and if left untreated, can work its way up the urinary tract to the bladder and even kidneys. It can cause painful urination and a red, irritated genital area. A UTI may cause increased urine output or the opposite — straining to urinate or dribbling. If the kidneys are involved, the condition is more severe, even life-threatening, which is why quick diagnosis and treatment with antibiotics is important. A simple UA can usually determine the presence of an infection.


If your dog is straining or seems in pain when urinating, or there is blood in the urine, there might be a urinary blockage. Bladder and kidney stones, as well as tumors and other growths, can become large enough to impede the flow of urine. When urine is blocked, it is an emergency situation, so seek the services of a professional veterinarian.

Other Conditions and Diseases

Sometimes, symptoms and changes in urinary behaviors are caused by other conditions. For example, one of the primary signs of diabetes is increased thirst and frequency of urination. It's important to diagnose diabetes early. With early detection and proper management, your pup can live a long, happy life. Cushing's disease, an endocrine disease caused by an overproduction of cortisol, can also cause increased urine output. A Cushing's diagnosis will mean lifelong management of symptoms.

It's important to be aware of your furry friend's urinary habits and note any increase in output or frequency, or accidents. Also note any changes in color or the presence of blood. If you notice anything unusual, it's important to have your pup checked out. In many cases, early detection can mean a better prognosis for your furry friend.