The urinary tract consists of the kidneys, ureters (connect the kidneys and the bladder), bladder and urethra (leads the urine from the bladder out of the body)1. The kidneys are two and they filter the blood from waste products and excess fluids, producing urine through which these are excreted. The ureters are also two - each of them connecting one of the kidneys to the bladder. The bladder stores the urine that comes via the ureters from the kidneys and when it fills, there is an urge to urinate. During urination, the urine is released from the bladder and exits the body via the urethra2.


There are different types of urinary track problems in dog:

UTI (Urinary tract infection) - an infection that may affect any part of the urinary system. Most infections involve the bladder and urethra. Majority of UTIs are bacterial (most often caused by E. Coli) and some are fungal (most often caused by Candida). Symptoms include frequent urination, pain during urination, cloudy urine, blood in the urine, strong-smelling urine6.

Bladder stones & urine crystals - bladder stones are an advanced form of urine crystals (formations of minerals that have bonded together). Crystals can partially or completely block the excretion of urine, a painful and dangerous condition for the dog. There are two types of crystals - oxalate crystals and struvite crystals. Oxalate crystals are formed by chronically acidic urine. Struvite crystals form when the urine becomes exceptionally concentrated or if it becomes too alkaline, causing an element of the urine called struvite to pass from liquid to solid state. In dogs, struvite bladder stones usually form as a complication of a bladder infection, kidney disease, long-term use of diuretic drugs or antacids. The most common signs that a dog has bladder stones are blood in the urine and straining to urinate7, 11.

Incontinence - loss of voluntary control of urination that results in urine spots left by the dog during relaxation and sleep or leaking of urine while walking. There are different causes of dog incontinence that can act on their own or in combination: 1) inability of the urethral muscles to close the urethra completely, 2) bladder storage dysfunction (the bladder may contract more frequently than normal, causing small amounts of urine leakage), 3) urinary tract infections, 4) neurological causes (disruption of nerves controlling the bladder, spinal injuries or brain disease), 5) bladder tumors, 6) anatomic abnormalities5.

Kidney dysfunction - inability of the kidneys to efficiently filter the blood of waste products. Because of disease or advanced age, kidney tissue becomes dysfunctional, causing the filtration process to become inefficient. In an attempt to get rid of the toxins, the body increases the amount of blood passing through the kidneys as less waste products are being removed each time. As a result, the dog urinates more and drinks more water to avoid dehydration. At a more advanced stage of kidney failure, dog owners may observe also loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea and really bad breath4.

Others - Obstruction of the urethra, cancer and others


There are different types of urinary tract infections in dogs: cystitis in dogs (bladder infection), urethritis (urethral infection), acute pyelonephritis (kidneys infection). Dog UTI symptoms vary, depending on the affected part of the urinary tract:

  • Bladder infection in dogs (cystitis in dogs): The most common symptom is blood in the urine. Bladder infection also causes discomfort and pain during urination. Dogs may squat and strain for a few minutes to produce only a small amount of urine, and they may urinate more frequently than normal. The dog may also leak little spots of urine in multiple locations8.
  • Urethra infection (urethritis): the urethra becomes inflamed and swollen. As a result of the swelling around the urethra, narrowing within the urethra occurs, leading to strained and often painful urination. Other symptoms include inability to urinate, genital discharge, abdomen pain, lethargy9.
  • Kidney infection (acute pyelonephritis): the most common symptoms are increased drinking of water and urination. Symptoms may also include: slow, uncomfortable urination, fever, pain while the kidneys are examined, abnormal size of one or both kidneys, lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea10, 6.

It also happens that dogs with urinary tract infections may not display any sign of an UTI. Often such UTIs are discovered while the Vet tests for other things3.


There are different types of urinary tract problems: urinary tract infections, bladder stones, incontinence, kidney dysfunction, obstruction of the urethra, cancer, and others. Even urinary tract infections are different types depending on what is affected (bladder, urethra, kidney) and have different causes (bacterial, fungal). It is best to consult your vet for a proper analysis and diagnosis if you suspect that your dog may have a urinary tract problem.


Vets typically recommend antibiotics for the treatment of urinary tract infections in dogs. Timely use of antibiotics can help avoid further complications such as the formation of struvite crystals and lower the chance of developing scar tissue in the urinary tract. This is important as lots of scar tissue results in urine retention in the bladder, creating a perfect medium for bacteria to grow.

Two complications may happen during treatment, however:

  • Persistent infections, when the pathological microorganisms do not respond to the treatment. One of the bacteria most often associated with dog UTIs, E coli, has the ability to develop antibiotic resistance over time.
  • Super-infections, when new pathological microorganisms are acquired during the treatment course and those new microorganisms are resistant to the currently administered treatment12.


It is not uncommon for the urinary tract infection to come back. Two main types of recurrence may happen: relapse (the UTI is caused by the same type of microorganisms not long after therapy is stopped) and reinfection (the UTI is caused by different type of microorganisms than previously)12.


Natural supplements can be useful in preventing UTI recurrence when taken preventively and also can augment the antibiotic treatment of UTIs. Here are some of the natural supplement ingredients that can be helpful in urinary tract infections in dogs:

  • Cranberry for dogs has been proven to be effective in preventing bacterial infections in the urinary tract (prevents E. coli and other bacteria from attaching to the wall of the bladder). Have in mind that cranberry can acidify the urine, so you don’t want to give it to a dog with urine PH lower than 6.0 (i.e. already acidic urine)11.
  • Hibiscus flower extract is another very potent, natural ingredient used for UTI. Unlike cranberry, which has only antibacterial properties, hibiscus flower extract has both antibacterial and antifungal properties13,14.
  • D-Mannose attaches to the E. coli bacteria (one of the main causes of UTIs) in the urinary tract preventing them from attaching to cells, so they are flushed out without causing an infection17.
  • Pumpkin seed extract can help increased urinary flow volume and decreased nighttime urinary frequency15. It is also helpful in reducing inflammation and alleviating symptoms of overactive bladder and urinary incontinence16.
  • Nettle seed extract contains ingredients that might decrease inflammation and increase urine output, thus alleviating bladder discomfort18
  • Marshmallow root soothes the urinary tract when there is an inflammation and stimulates the immune system to attack the bacteria that cause urinary tract infections19
  • Astragalus support kidney health by improving blood flow and laboratory markers of kidney function, such as measures of protein in the urine20.
  • Licorice contains compounds that decrease bacterial adherence to the bladder wall and can speed up the repair of stomach lining and restore balance21, 22.


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DISCLAIMER: Statements on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Dietary supplements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

As individual dogs differ, so will results. Always check with your veterinarian for risks associated with dietary supplements and your dog’s specific health conditions and/or allergies.

The information provided on this website is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your veterinarian or any information contained on the product label. You should not use the information on this website for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment.



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