If you're discovering wet spots on bedding and puddles in all the wrong places, it's a warning that your pet may be experiencing urinary tract and/or bladder trouble. UT/bladder disorders range from infection to incontinence, and can be quite painful. The good news is that some simple measures can safeguard your best friend's UT/bladder health.
Recognize the Red Flags
Some common signs of UT/bladder trouble: urinating with greater frequency; squatting with little output; eliminating in inappropriate places, e.g., outside the litter box; licking at the urethra, or straining to pee; and making frequent but unproductive trips to the litter box. "Is the pet's urine dark, concentrated, and foul-smelling, or perhaps there's blood? Don't delay; take him to the veterinarian as soon as possible," says Diane Levitan, DVM, of Peace Love Pets Veterinary Care in Commack, N.Y. "Your animal doctor will treat the underlying cause, whether it's stress-related, an infection, or stones."
Walk and Water Often
Indoor dogs that don't get enough outings to eliminate are at greater risk for UT/bladder issues. We sometimes expect dogs to "hold it" for long periods of time. But this should never be the norm, as it's not at all healthy-holding back urine is just as bad for pets as it is for people, and can lead to urinary tract, bladder, and kidney infections, and/or bladder stones.
When urine is held back for long periods over weeks and months, incontinence can develop. Dogs should go out at least three times daily. Arrange to have someone give your dog a relief walk if you can't. And if you're taking a road trip, be sure to take dogs out so they, too, get a chance to empty their bladders. As for cats, "Make sure to use a type of litter your cat actually likes," says Levitan. "This helps keep cats stress-free and happy, which is key to preventing feline lower urinary tract issues."
Purr-fect pH to prevent urinary tract infection in dogs and cats
"Make fresh, cool water available to pets at all times," says Levitan. "Consider a ceramic fountain that provides plenty of fresh, cool water." Some pet owners who want to prevent accidents figure they'll just reduce the amount of drinking water given to their dog or cat, but this is a bad move. Keeping animals hydrated goes a long way toward protecting their urinary and bladder health.
"One of the best things you can do for cats' urinary health is to feed them wet food instead of dry," explains holistic veterinarian Jill Elliot, DVM, based in New York. "Wet food has 80 percent moisture, but dry has only 15 percent-a big difference."
Proper hydration helps keeps pH levels healthy. An animal's pH levels should be between 6 and 6.5. Happily, monitoring pH levels got easier thanks to innovations such as Pretty Litter, which changes color to signal abnormal pH levels and urinary tract infections. Adds Elliot, "If the pH goes up to 7, 7.5, or 8, then you know crystals will start forming -so you can make changes to your pet's diet to lower the pH."
One way to do this is to supplement with pH-lowering vitamin C. Cranberry can also help tone pets' urinary tracts, and it's an ingredient found in many dog and cat foods, as well as supplements specifically formulated for animals. "Probiotics can also promote bladder health," adds Levitan.
For pets experiencing urinary and/or bladder discomfort that confounds conventional treatments, consider veterinary homeopathy. "It works by giving the animal's system a ‘kick in the pants' to go fix itself, and it doesn't interfere with other medications, herbs, or supplements," explains Elliot. "Cantharis is a very good remedy for urinary-bladder issues," she says. "It can help to tighten the bladder if the animal is incontinent. Another helpful remedy is Lycopodium clavatum, which has an affinity for the whole urinary tract."
Did You Know?
Indoor dogs that have to "hold it" for long periods of time are at greater risk for urinary tract and bladder issues.