We do it every day – we take our dogs out to the grass, wait for them to potty, and then continue on our walk or go back inside the house. We don’t always watch their bathroom habits every single time.
Your pup just came in from her morning bathroom break, bouncing off the walls and waiting for her treat. But wait – you stop and take another look at the urine spot on the ground – is that blood in your dog’s pee? Is it ok if your female dog has some blood in her pee? She’s never had that before. And she’s acting totally normal otherwise.
While bloody dog urine, or hematuria, is alarming to even the most level-headed pet owner, it is a common condition seen in everyday veterinary practice and is often easily treated depending on the cause. It can come from anywhere in the urinary tract including upper (kidney and ureters, the tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder) or lower (bladder and urethra) regions. Although it has many causes, the most common are bacterial infections, bladder stones, and occasionally certain types of cancer. Fortunately, the vast majority of these cases are due to urinary tract infections and not something more serious!
Is it normal for a female dog to have blood in their urine? What are the typical signs?
Any amount of blood in urine is abnormal and warrants a visit to your veterinarian. Other symptoms will vary depending on the reason for the blood, but you might notice your dog licking her urinary opening more than normal. Some dogs may have increased thirst, need to go outside to the bathroom more frequently, strain when urinating, and produce smaller amounts of urine.
What are the common causes of blood in a female dog’s pee? (assuming my dog is otherwise acting normal)
If your female dog is peeing blood but otherwise acting normal, the most common causes are likely the following:
Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) – UTIs are by far the most common cause of blood in your dog’s urine. They will cause straining, increased urine frequency but often smaller amounts, and changes in urine color and smell. If your dog has certain medical conditions like diabetes, they are at an increased risk of developing UTIs. These infections are more common in female dogs than in male dogs.
Kidney or Bladder Stones – Often called calculi, bladder stones can also be a fairly common cause for hematuria since they irritate the bladder lining. Some stones can be dissolved with special prescription diets or other treatments like laser therapy, but a few may still need surgery to remove. Dogs can form these stones anywhere in the urinary tract – a kidney stone is often extremely painful and typically needs surgical intervention.
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Less common causes of hematuria include clotting or platelet disorders, as well as certain toxins like some rat poison. Typically these more serious causes would have other associated symptoms like bruising/bleeding issues, vomiting, and lethargy (in other words, your dog would not be acting normal). These cases require urgent medical attention so call your vet immediately if your dog displays any of these signs.
Urinary tract cancers can also cause blood in the urine. The bladder is the most common location to see cancer in the urinary tract, but is fortunately quite rare, accounting for around 2% of all reported cancers in dogs.
Is it an emergency if my female dog is peeing blood – but acting normal?
While it likely is not an emergency since your dog is still eating, drinking, and has normal energy, it’s still very important to have her evaluated by your vet. The sooner they can diagnose and treat the underlying problem, the less risk of serious complications.
Is my dog in pain?
While your dog may not be outwardly showing pain, if she has a urinary tract problem she may indeed be uncomfortable and experiencing some pain. Dogs have a natural instinct to hide the pain from others as a protective mechanism, so it can be hard to assess pain in certain dogs. Just like humans with UTIs, dogs often also have an increased urge to urinate and may experience that same burning sensation.
The reason your dog may be acting perfectly normal otherwise is that conditions like UTIs are localized to just the urinary tract and not throughout the body. This is also why your vet may not see changes in bloodwork for example. If the issue worsens significantly, however, it is more likely to cause a serious problem, pain, and other symptoms throughout the body.
What are the signs that I should see a vet?
If you notice any of the following symptoms, it is best to have your dog evaluated soon by your veterinarian:
- Lethargy, weakness, or collapse
- Not eating or drinking
- Large amounts of blood in the urine
- Pale gums
It is always best to try to catch issues early, so if in doubt, make an appointment – you know your pet best!
What can I do at home to help my dog, if it is not an emergency?
There are a few things you can do at home to help keep your dog comfortable until she can be seen by your vet. Encourage her to drink by making sure she has plenty of clean fresh water.
Some vets will also recommend a probiotic to help promote normal vaginal health – we recommend speaking with your veterinarian about best products and if this would be appropriate for your dog. Do not give your dog any urinary supplements or over-the-counter medications without veterinary supervision – many supplements are not regulated or extensively tested, and some can even interact with other medications.
How can a vet help my dog and what can I expect at my visit?
The first thing your veterinarian will do is take a complete history – this is where you come in as your dog’s spokesperson! Your vet will likely want to know the duration of symptoms, any current medication or supplements, and any medical conditions that you know of, as well as any possible toxin exposures.
During the appointment, your vet will do a thorough exam and then recommend tests such as a:
- Urine analysis – This looks at the concentration of urine as well as presence of bacteria, crystals, blood, and abnormal cells. There shouldn’t be any bacteria in a normal bladder since it is considered a sterile environment – therefore bacteria in the urine sample can indicate a UTI. Ideally your vet will want to obtain a sterile sample, meaning one not contaminated by outside bacteria. They will insert a small sterile needle directly into the bladder. Try not to let your dog urinate immediately prior to the appointment – this improves the chances your dog will have a full bladder and the vet will be able to get a sample.
- Urine culture – Your vet may elect to do this test as well. This involves putting a small drop of urine on a culture dish to grow the bacteria and see which antibiotics it responds to. Think of it as planting seeds and seeing which ones grow the best and which ones don’t! Keep in mind that this is often sent to an outside laboratory so results may take 5-7 days.
- Bloodwork – This assesses the whole body, not just the urine. This would be especially important if concerned about conditions like clotting disorders. It often will not show changes for uncomplicated UTIs.
- Ultrasound or xray – An ultrasound can assess the urinary tract including bladder thickness, presence of stones, and other abnormalities. Xrays of your dogs bladder may show if there are bladder stones (but keep in mind that not all types of bladder stones show up on xray!).
What is the average cost of treatment?
Treatment costs can vary significantly from clinic to clinic, different parts of the country, and whether your dog is seen at an ER, specialty center, or general practice vet clinic. The average urinary case will involve an office visit (can be a large range, from $20-$100+), urine analysis ($50-100), urine culture ($100-200), antibiotics ($10-100+, will depend on antibiotic type and size of dog), ultrasound/xrays ($200+), and any follow-up visits/treatments.
- Provide fresh, clean water daily. This helps maintain adequate hydration as well as flushing bacteria through the kidneys and rest of urinary tract. It is also important to wash all food and water bowls daily to prevent bacterial contamination as well.
- Keep your dog well-groomed. Sometimes dogs with longer hair need the groomers to cut a “potty path” or sanitary groom. This means they clip the hair shorter right around the vulva to lessen the possibility of bacteria getting into the urinary trac0 from contaminated hair.
- Regular visits with your veterinarian are one of the most important steps to prevention to identify problems and stay ahead of them.
Can blood in a female dog’s urine go away on its own?
Typically it is best to have a veterinarian do an exam on your dog to see if they can find the cause for the blood. Even if you no longer see visible blood in your dog’s urine, it may still be there, just in smaller amounts not detected by the naked eye.
How do I prevent this from happening again?
It is not uncommon for a dog to have the occasional urinary tract infection or two over the course of her lifetime, but if they are recurring then there is likely an underlying cause that needs investigating. This could be an abnormal conformation, bladder stones, or even certain types of cancer, among others.
If your dog has been diagnosed with a UTI and prescribed antibiotics, you should finish the entire course of medication even if the symptoms resolve in a few days. There is often still some bacteria present even after clinical signs go away – finishing the antibiotics helps ensure the infection is completely cleared.
While we can’t prevent every UTI or bout of blood in the urine, we can be vigilant and proactive. It is important to monitor your dog when they go out side to the bathroom on occasion so you catch issues quickly. Yearly preventative care appointments with your vet are also a good way to stay on top of your dog’s urinary healthy. Your vet can run routine urine analysis to monitor for any changes as well.
Can I treat my dog at home?
If there is any concern for blood in the urine (or any other urinary symptoms), even if your pet is acting totally normal, it is always best to err on the side of caution and take her to your veterinarian. They will likely have the necessary tools to help diagnose the problem and create a targeted treatment plan. While there are many products on the market geared toward urinary health, it is always best to consult with your veterinarian before starting any of these. They know your pet’s medical history, as well as any interactions between medications and supplements.
One thing you can do at home is make sure your pet has access to plenty of fresh clean water to help flush the kidneys. Also remember that they may be a bit uncomfortable and have some accidents (even if they are totally potty-trained).
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