Whether you are a dog lover, a cat lover, or an equal-animal opportunist, you want to make sure your pet is in good urinary health. Just as you might experience bladder and urinary discomfort and call your doctor immediately, you want to do the same with your pet. The key is recognizing the signs of a bladder problem and, even more important, helping your pet bypass bladder problems with preventative steps.

Bladder Conditions and Symptoms

A discussion about common bladder problems in pets usually starts with a urinary tract infection. If untreated, a blockage in the urethra can occur, resulting in the rupturing of the bladder or fatal kidney fatal. In cats, especially middle-aged, indoor, and/or overweight cats, FLUTD, or Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease, is the most common urinary tract problem. The cause is often from multiple sources and could include crystals, debris, or stones in the urethra or bladder or result from other complicated situations—an injury, a tumor, an abnormality, or an endocrine disease, such as diabetes.

If you observe the following serious signs and symptoms in your pet’s bathroom and other behavior, contact the veterinarian as soon as possible: urinating in atypical places, more frequent urination, bloody or cloudy urine, the inability to urinate or crying out in pain with urination, vomiting, licking of urinary openings, drinking more water than usual, a lack of interest in food, and sleepiness. Certain pets are more prone to urinary problems than others. Be extra observant of overweight or sedentary pets, spayed or neutered pets, indoor cats, male cats, pets in stressful environments, and older female dogs. A veterinarian can run necessary tests, including a urine test/analysis, blood work, or even imaging, in order to determine the specific urinary or bladder problem your pet is experiencing.

What Does Your Pet Require to Remain Healthy?

To quote Benjamin Franklin, “When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.” Your pet’s water intake is critical because water produces urine. If your pet eats the raw meat that animals are naturally meant to eat, then its water intake should be normal. Even canned food has just enough moisture to satisfy. However, if your pet’s diet consists mostly of dry food, then its water intake is about a tenth of what it should be. For cats, this is a big deal because, unlike dogs, they are not ones to lap up water from bowls!

Tips for Preventing Urinary Problems

As with anything in life, you want to prevent problems before they arise. First, increase moisture to your pet’s food. This might mean changing your pet’s diet from dry food to canned or raw meat and/or adding a little bit of water to the canned meal. The water does not have to be from a bottle, but do double-check that the water is clean and non-contaminated. Second, make sure your pet urinates frequently. If you have a dog, take your canine outside every three hours (ideally) or thereabouts. Third, groom and bathe your dog regularly; this includes trimming long, unwanted hairs from the urinary area. Fourth, consider giving your pet nutrients that are known for supporting good urinary health, such as D-Mannose, which is found in cranberry and other fruit extracts. Finally, take your pet to the veterinarian for regular checkups; remember to ask pertinent questions and take notes regarding any suggestions for lifestyle changes.

You are not likely to get a clear-cut response when you lean down and ask your canine or feline friends about their health, but the most important thing you can do is observe their behaviors and take action steps toward prevention and, if necessary, treatment.