Blood in the urine is never a good sign, no matter the species that it appears in. Some dogs that show this symptom could develop severe complications, which is why veterinary assistance is necessary as soon as possible.
In today’s article, we’re looking at this clinical sign in depth and seeing what it is caused by, what other symptoms it is associated with, how the condition that has led to it is diagnosed, and more.
What causes blood in a dog’s urine?
While there are multiple factors that can lead to this outcome, they can be split into several different categories themselves. Some of them pertain to the upper urinary tract, whereas others pertain to the lower urinary tract.
Some causes that are unrelated to these two primary types range from infectious diseases and trauma (such as an accident) to chemotherapy and vasculitis or any other form of inflammatory disease. Some dogs can have coagulopathies, so that can be another cause.
As for the upper urinary tract ones, they are listed below:
- Kidney stones
- Kidney infections
- Kidney cancer
- Idiopathic renal hematuria (a fancy name for a condition that has no cause regardless of the number of diagnostic tests performed)
Several lower urinary tract causes of hematuria in canines can be found below:
- Bladder stones
- Bladder infections
- Urinary crystals (and associated infections)
- Bladder cancer
- Prostate conditions (one of the most common ones is benign prostatic hyperplasia)
Now that we’ve gotten the main possibilities out of the way, we would like to note that, in some cases, pet guardians might confuse hematuria with estrus. While the majority of female dogs do not eliminate massive amounts of blood when they are in heat, they will sometimes express it when they urinate, which can alarm their owners.
Finally, another cause that can lead to your dog eliminating blood in their urine can be poisoning. Some toxic substances, particularly rat poison, can cause hematuria along with other clinical signs.
Other symptoms that pet owners might notice
While hematuria can be the only sign that you might notice in some cases, depending on the exact factor that has caused it, you might see additional ones.
We already mentioned toxic substances. A dog that has been poisoned will act in a strange manner, such as having low to no tolerance to exercise, having a hard time breathing, being extremely lethargic all of a sudden, and more. Depending on the poison, some dogs might cough, or their abdomen might become distended.
In the event of an infection, the dog will experience pain when urinating, will strain to do so very often during the day, and will continuously lick their urinary opening. Passing stones can be very painful, too, so dogs might effectively howl because of the discomfort they experience when this happens.
If the ‘blood in urine’ situation is actually caused by estrus, your female dog’s vulva will be more swollen than normal, and droplets of blood will be visible in the area before and after she urinates and after she sits for some time.
What should you do if your dog is urinating blood?
Even if it’s not something extremely serious that has caused this symptom, you should take your canine friend to the veterinary clinic as soon as possible.
If your dog ate rat poison, they could lose their life before the end of the day. In some conditions, time is of the essence, so you could be risking your dog’s life and well-being if you do not get veterinary assistance as soon as possible.
Should your pet behave more or less normally, you can set up an appointment for a consultation in the next few days, but if they’re lethargic, don’t engage in any exercise, have zero appetite for food or water, or they have a fever, get them to the emergency veterinary clinic right away.
Diagnosis of blood in dog urine
There are several different ways of diagnosing the condition that has led to this symptom. Besides a physical examination, the vet will use urinalysis to tell what’s happening with your dog’s pee. Regular blood tests such as a complete blood count and biochemistry can also be helpful.
Imaging techniques such as an ultrasound or contrast radiography for the bladder can be extremely helpful, especially when it comes to diagnosing growths, crystals, or even tissue thickening or suspicious lesions.
Fortunately, veterinary medicine has advanced hugely in the past decades, so there are many ways to tell what’s wrong with your dog if they are passing bloody urine.
The therapy can vary a lot from one case to the next, and the reason for that is the variety of causes that can lead to this symptom.
If an infection is diagnosed, your dog will be prescribed antibiotics. It is of utmost importance that you stick to your vet’s recommendations and give them the treatment until the end.
As for the other conditions, it all depends on your dog’s age and general health and whatever treatment is available. These days, even kidney and bladder tumors respond well to treatment, including chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy.
Bladder stones can be removed with an operation, whereas treatment for urinary crystals can involve immediate therapy plus a significant change in your pet’s diet.
There are a lot of options that you need to look into with your veterinarian to make sure you end up choosing the best one.
Can you prevent your dog from passing bloody urine?
Since hematuria is a symptom and not a disease in itself, it’s very difficult for you to prevent it. You can prevent your dog from getting poisoned, though, and you can ensure that their urinary health is in good condition especially once they hit the age of 6 to 7.
Males should have their prostate checked at least yearly or twice a year particularly in their senior years. Making sure your dog is vaccinated against potentially life-threatening diseases along with feeding them a healthy diet are two other ways to prevent urinary pathologies.