During the winter months, the weather can make it difficult for people to stay active and energized. When the wind howls and your windows are frosted with ice and snow, the idea of going out does not always seem appealing. It is natural to want to curl up with a blanket and read a good book or binge-watch a T.V. series. Your dogs and cats like to curl up with you, too. However, this decreased activity level can put them at risk for a seasonal urinary tract infection.
Why Are Your Pets at Risk?
Decreased activity and lower temperatures yield less water consumption and, subsequently, fewer bathroom trips. If your pet suffers from arthritis and/or has weakened immune defenses due to age, depression, or past medical conditions like cancer, then your pet is a strong candidate for a urinary tract infection. Generally, urinary tract problems in cats are less common than UTIs in dogs, and female cats and dogs are more likely than their male counterparts to get a urinary tract infection. Moreover, older animals are at increased risk because of weakened immune systems that cannot fight off the bacteria that causes UTIs. Most times, urination rids the animal’s body of the bacteria before it can even reach the bladder.
Signs of a Urinary Tract Infection in Pets
Take notice if your pet experiences any of the following symptoms and how often they occur:
- Difficulty urinating (pet may cry out in pain)
- Trying many times to urinate without success
- Urinating in inappropriate locations
- Only urinating in small amounts
- Lower abdominal tenderness
- Increased need for water
Urinary tract problems in cats and dogs have a 50% chance of leading to a chronic condition, which can add stress and challenges to your pet’s life. Additionally, if urinary tract infections go untreated, a blockage in your pet’s urethra can occur, resulting in the rupturing of the bladder or fatal kidney failure.
How to Protect Your Pet from a Urinary Tract Infection
If at all possible, you want to nip problems in the bud before they even start. Consider the following suggestions to encourage activity, hydration, and bathroom trips during the winter months:
- Make water bowls available for your pet, especially in places where your pet spends a significant amount of time.
- Set aside time each day for your pet to move around to increase water consumption and urination and decrease depression and anxiety issues.
- Monitor your cat’s urination with an appropriate number of litter boxes. Take your dog outside at regularly scheduled times, even when the weather is nippy.
- If your pet has certain medical conditions, such as arthritis or obesity, pay extra attention and try to keep your pet mobile. For example, make sure your arthritic animal is as warm as possible during the winter and encourage weight loss in your overweight pet with a healthy diet.
If anything appears suspicious with your pet, work promptly with the veterinarian to confirm whether your pet has a UTI or not. The veterinarian can run urine tests/analyses for confirmation. If your pet does have a UTI, then the vet establishes specific cat and dog UTI treatment plans, which give you and your pet steps toward improved health.