When your pet “has to go” you usually turn a blind eye and let him do his business. Or, it has become such a routine part of your life that you no longer even pay attention.
However typical or mundane, being attentive to your dog’s urine or urination habits can be an extremely helpful indicator of possible conditions or diseases he may have. By spotting these signs early on, you can proactively treat an illness rather than face the repercussions of discovering urine discoloration much later in the process.
Blood in dog urine is generally a serious symptom. However, finding blood in dog urine also might be part of a natural process or the way that your dog reacts to external (rather than internal) factors. For this reason, it is recommended that you immediately take your dog to a veterinarian if you spot any abnormalities in your dog’s urine color or smell – just to be safe.
Visually, your dog’s urine color might be red or amber-tinged, or even orange and brown, which is indicative of blood. Even if the recognition of blood in urine follows a recent injury, owners should be attentive and adamant about a check-up in case the cause stems from another issue. It is possible that this discolored urine is due to bacterial infections or life-threatening diseases.
While a condition in of itself, the medical term for this phenomenon of blood in urine is called hematuria. It can also sometimes be accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea in dogs, as well as a wide range of other symptoms. These symptoms are dependent on the root problem causing the overall disease or illness.
For example, symptoms of lethargy that accompany hematuria may mean anything from poisoning to a prostate infection, but the cause can be cited more quickly with an observant eye that spots changes in behavior patterns. This is why paying attention to other abnormal doggy behaviors is important – and can even be life changing at times.
Common Causes of Blood in Dog Urine
Causes of hematuria can be determined by a variety of factors ranging from age to gender to breed. If the dog in question is older, it might mean something as serious as cancer in the urinary tract or kidneys. Dog breeds that are more predisposed to getting cancers like these – in the lower internal organs of the dog – are Scottish Terriers, Shetland Sheepdogs, and West Highland White Terriers. German Shepherds are more likely than other breeds to get renal cystadenocarcinoma, a type of kidney cancer in dogs, where a tumor or abnormal swelling in the kidneys are often indicative of the disease.
Younger dogs who have blood in their urine are less likely to have developed cancerous diseases. Instead, they may be more likely to be suffering from familial hematuria, which certain families of animals are more prone to developing than others. For example, Labrador Retrievers are prone to cystinuria, which cause kidney stones in dogs. There is a wide range of bacterial diseases in the urinary tract and around the dog’s lower regions that could additionally cause this phenomenon.
This of course doesn’t exclude other external factors disassociated with the dog’s internal organs, such as poisoning and even physical injury or trauma.
Urinary Tract Infections or Cancers
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) in dogs are more common in females than males due to the location of the female urethra on the body. Blood in your dog’s urine is one symptom that he or she may have, alongside difficulty urinating or breaking housetraining. Urinating may not only be painful or straining, but could also take longer than usual or become more frequent than normal. Pay attention to the smell of your dog’s urine as well, as it may have a stronger odor. If your dog is constantly licking his genitals, that may also be a sign that a urinary tract infection is the cause of blood spotting.
Urine tinged with blood can also indicate more serious diseases in the urinary tract, like cancers. The most common cancer in dog urinary tracts is transitional cell carcinoma, or TCC. TCC is an invasive, malignant, and metastasizing cancer that results in growth of tumors around the bladder. This means that it is both aggressive and spreading.
Genetic predisposition as well as environmental factors are the more than likely proponents of this disease, which Scottish Terriers – as cited earlier – have the highest risk of getting. It is suggested that environmental factors might include pesticide and herbicide ingestion. While bladder cancer in dogs is considered highly unusual, TCC affects thousands of dogs each year.
As with TCC, tumors in dogs can often be indicative of cancer. But some tumors are noncancerous as well. These tumors are not malignant, but rather benign, which means that they don’t spread.
However, benign tumors that are large enough to obstruct or put strain on vital organs – in this case, the bladder or kidney – may cause problems like primary organ dysfunction or failure. Blood in urine can occur if the organs are stressed, damaged, or at risk from these tumors. Sometimes, these tumors develop over the lifespan of the dog and aren’t apparent until much later in their life cycles. While only 3% of bladder tumors are benign, this is a possibility that should definitely be taken into consideration by your veterinarian or specialist when getting this checked out.
Bladder or Kidney Infection
Bacterial infections can affect the bladder and kidneys of a dog. Often accompanied by frequent squatting or sitting, bladder infections occur when bacteria enters through the rectal or genital areas. This is followed by the constant urge to urinate although urine does not come out – and when it does, it might be bloody or cloudy. It also may be indicative of a blood infection that has directly affected the bladder or kidney areas to produce physical symptoms.
Whether it is a blood or organ infection, finding blood in your dog’s urine can be indicative of one of the following.
Pyelonephritis: This bacterial infection is sometimes due to kidney stone blockage or urinary tract infections that spread to upper regions of the internal body. When this blockage occurs, it can be extremely dangerous. Blood in urine can be indicative of this phenomenon in early stages.
Sepsis: This is a bacterial infection of the blood that can affect the bladder and kidney. This happens when undecomposed urine is forced into the bloodstream. Urine discoloration is an extremely likely symptom of this condition, as well as fever, back pain, and abnormal urination habits.
Kidney or bladder stones: These are common in certain dog breeds, where conditions can range from needing antibiotic treatment to surgery. A change in diet can be preventative of this condition, as well as work to eliminate already-formed stones. This is different from an infection and will be explained separately as to not confuse the two.
Kidney or Bladder Stones
As mentioned earlier, some dog breeds are prone to getting kidney or bladder stones more than others, like the Labrador Retriever. Other breeds susceptible to high urine or blood imbalance include Lhasa Apsos, Yorkshire Terriers, Dalmatians, English Bulldogs, and Miniature Poodles. However, this can happen to any dogs, as the condition is not strictly hereditary. Kidney stones tend to form when specific amino acids aren’t resorbed by the kidneys, resulting in crystals or stones that form when they precipitate in the dog’s urine.
Blood may be present in dog urine when the stones are accompanied by blood or urine imbalance. Too much calcium can lead to the development of stones, as well as diets high in alkaline or uric acid to produce a high urine pH.
Other associated symptoms of kidney stones include discomfort during urination, licking of the genitals, and even weight loss and poor appetite in dogs. Sometimes, however, signs and symptoms do not exist – the stones are only discovered after a diagnosis by a specialist. Surgery or passing the stones through a change in diet are two ways that kidney stones can be treated. Another is extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL), where sound waves break the stones up into smaller pieces that reduces blockage of the tract.
Another possible cause of discolored urine from blood could be poisoning. If your dog has ingested any toxic substances including rodenticide or pesticide, it may threaten the internal organs. In addition to being foreign substances that disrupt normal bodily functions, toxic materials like these can in some cases be fatal. Blood in urine is just be one symptom of this poisoning in dogs.
Other symptoms that may accompany a change in your dog’s urination patterns are lethargy, coughing, exercise intolerance, or difficulty breathing. This will likely cause an immediate change in your dog’s behavior and well-being, so immediate attention will be needed in the case that your dog ate something it wasn’t supposed to.
If your dog has suffered recent physical trauma or injury, it’s possible that nothing is particularly wrong with the urinary tract. Blood in dog urine or a disruption in usual urination habits could be a response to external factors that have shaken the dog. However, discoloration in urine should be monitored by a veterinarian or specialist to make sure that no internal organs are endangered or at risk of infection.
Prostate or Urethra Infection
Prostate or urethra infections are likely to occur in male dogs. Bloody discharge from the penis is an extremely likely symptom of this condition. If accompanied by stiff walking, lethargy, and loss of appetite or fever in dogs, it is smart to get a check up and see what likely causes are. If urination is labored, urine stream seems to be significantly decreased, or passing bowel movements comes with extreme difficulty, your dog may be struggling with an infection in these areas. A swelling prostate in dogs, however, is something that comes with old age than an indication of cancer or infection rather than an indication of infection.
If serious or if cancerous, male dogs will often need to have surgery or castration in order to survive the disease. Bacterial infections can spread rapidly, so it’s best to find this out sooner than later for immediate treatment.
Contrarily, a swelling vulva in female dogs may be indicative of estrus. Estrus is a normal part of female dog reproductive cycles, where they will find themselves “in heat” around every six months or twice each year. It takes around two years for dogs to develop regular cycles. This may be uncommonly heard of because female dogs are often spayed or neutered to prevent uterine infections and breast tumors.
Likewise, neutering male dogs can help prevent prostate cancer. By removing your pet’s reproductive organs, they will become infertile and be less likely to develop such diseases. However, female dogs who are not spayed or neutered will have “doggy periods” and could become pregnant as well.
Estrus is noted mainly because the blood in urine may actually not be from the urinary tract, but from the same area. Blood from vaginal discharge will leave the body and may first be seen in the dog’s urine. A good way to tell that blood may be coming from the vagina is if drops of blood are instead left when the dog sits down. If she has been spayed, it won’t be an issue; however, where the blood comes from is important in telling what the cause may be.
Because blood in dog urine can be a single factor of many different conditions of varying degrees, close observance to the dog’s everyday routines and behaviors cannot be underestimated. This will help the veterinarian know what tests to run and what needs to be checked, allowing them to have more information for the basis of a diagnosis. If a diagnosis can be made more quickly, treating the disease will be an easier and faster process than if spotted later.
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- “Blood in the Urine in Dogs – Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost.” WagWalking, Accessed 13 Nov. 2017. www.wagwalking.com/condition/blood-in-urine.
- “Blood in the Urine in Dogs.” PetMD, Accessed 13 Nov. 2017. www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/urinary/c_dg_hematuria.
- Burke, Anna. “What Does Blood in Dog Urine Mean? – American Kennel Club.” American Kennel Club, 17 July 2017, Accessed 13 Nov. 2017. www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/blood-in-dog-urine/.
- “Causes of Blood in Dog Urine.” PetHelpful, 12 Oct. 2015, Accessed 13 Nov. 2017. www.pethelpful.com/dogs/Causes-of-Blood-in-Dog-Urine.