Cystitis is a type of UTI or urinary tract infection, which as the name suggests, affects the urinary tract. An infection of the lower part of the urinary tract is called simple cystitis, but when it occurs in the upper part, this can be more serious and lead to kidney infections and other problems. While cystitis is a problem that we most commonly associate with people and also cats, dogs can develop cystitis too, and the condition can be prone to recurrence or repeated flare-ups throughout the dog’s life.
Cystitis tends to occur more commonly in female dogs than in males, although it is by no means unique to female dogs. If your dog seems to have repeated problems with their urinary tract or is prone to flare-ups of cystitis, it is important to garner as full an understanding of the condition as possible, in order to do what you can to make life more comfortable for your dog and reduce the chances of future attacks. We will cover these factors in more detail within this article.
Canine cystitis simply means “a bladder infection in the dog,” which can begin and spread along the urinary tract in different places. Cystitis is a bacterial infection, which begins in the intestinal tract and descends to the anus, before crossing over to the urethra and ascending up into the bladder, where it begins to cause a problem.
Cross-infection from the anus to the urethra is a common cause of canine cystitis, although this cannot always be prevented. Bladder stones can also lead to cystitis and various other forms of urinary tract infections too, as the stones often have sharp sides that irritate or abrade the walls of the bladder, making it easier for bacteria to take hold, causing infection.
Persistent and recurrent infections that are hard to completely resolve can be a symptom of diabetes, and also possibly a symptom of an abnormally shaped bladder that cannot fully expel urine in the normal way.
Conditions such as tumours of the bladder, Cushing’s disease and other wider problems can also lead to cystitis as a secondary complication. Some medications and procedures such as chemotherapy, immune-suppressant drugs and cortisone can also lead to an elevated chance of cystitis developing in the dog.
Dogs with cystitis tend to need to go to the toilet more frequently than normal, and may also need to strain to successfully urinate. Blood may be present within the urine, but this is not always the case.
If your dog appears to need to go out to the toilet urgently on a regular basis, and whines to go out or paces uncomfortably by the door, cystitis is one culprit. Dogs affected with the condition may also be unable to hold it in, and can potentially urinate within the home too, which is often mistaken for a behavioural problem.
Your vet will need to examine your dog and run a urinalysis to see if there are any bladder stones present, or high levels of harmful bacteria present in the urine. Your vet may also need to run a culture sensitivity test, in order to select the right type of antibiotics to treat the infection.
Once your vet has prescribed antibiotics for your dog, it is vitally important that they are administered in accordance with your vet’s guidelines, and that you finish the full course of antibiotics. Failing to do this can result in the condition returning, even if it was apparently cured, and can also contribute to building up antibiotic resistance in your dog.
While cystitis in itself is a relatively simple and common condition, if it does keep recurring or flaring up time and again within your dog, your vet may need to look into this in more detail. If the infection itself is not fully eradicated by the antibiotics, even if it appears to be gone, it can keep returning, or rather, flaring back up as part of the same infection. This is more likely to occur if your vet didn’t run a culture sensitivity test on your dog, and so, prescribed antibiotics that were not fully up to the task of resolving the condition.
Recurrent bouts of cystitis in the dog can also be a symptom of canine diabetes, and so if your dog seems to be suffering from more than their fair share of problems, or the problem never really seems to go away, your vet may wish to perform a simple test to diagnose canine diabetes too.
Keeping your dog in generally good health and happy all helps to strengthen the immune system, and make the body more able to fight off infections, and so ensuring that your dog is fit, well fed and otherwise in peak health can also help to prevent infections from recurring.