This article was updated on August 29th, 2022
Anytime a pet owner sees blood in their dog’s urine it is a cause for concern. In my practice, I commonly see older dogs (age 7-8+) who are brought in after an owner notices a red tinge to the dog’s urine. In senior / older dogs, the causes of blood in the urine, technically known as hematuria, are numerous. Let’s review the top causes and how you can help your old canine friend.
Is Blood in Dog Urine an Emergency for Older Dogs?
A dog that is urinating blood is not an emergency in the strictest sense of the word. True emergencies are immediately life-threatening and care must be sought from a veterinarian right then. Blood in the urine definitely needs to be taken seriously and the dog should be taken to a veterinarian promptly, but few cases constitute an actual emergency, and most can wait a short time, for example, until the following morning.
Signs that Blood in your Dog’s Urine is an Emergency:
There are a few instances where hematuria is actually an emergency, and the dog should be taken to the nearest veterinary hospital immediately. These include:
§ Excessive amounts of frank blood in the urine
§ Pale or white gums
§ Recent trauma such as a car accident
§ Weakness, lethargy, or collapse
Though not blood in the urine, any dog that cannot urinate within a 24-hour period is an emergency.
The Different Types of Blood in a Senior Dog’s Urine
Blood in a senior’s dog urine can present itself in many forms, including red-colored urine or blood clots. If you are wondering if what you are seeing is really blood, read our article “Is this blood in my dog’s pee?”
Most Likely Causes of Blood in Urine for Older Dogs (Age 8+)
If your dog is older, some causes of hematuria are more likely than others. However, there are many causes of blood in the urine and your dog needs to be seen by their veterinarian as soon as possible.
1. Tumors: Unfortunately, cancerous tumors in the bladder, kidney, or prostate are the number one most common reason for a senior dog to have blood in their urine. Imaging such as x-rays and ultrasound will be needed to locate the tumor and a biopsy can be taken to diagnose it. Depending on the tumor and the location, treatment may involve surgery, medications, chemotherapy, and radiation.
2. Bladder stones: When minerals build up in the urine, they can form crystals and then stones (uroliths) in the bladder, or anywhere in the urinary tract. There are many different types of bladder stones, with struvite and calcium oxalate being the most common. Dalmatians and dogs with liver diseases, such as portosystemic shunts are more likely to develop urate bladder stones.
Treatment: Certain types of bladder stones can be medically dissolved with a special diet and medications. Others need to be removed surgically. Larger stones can obstruct the urethra, blocking urine outflow from the bladder. This is a life-threatening condition that requires urgent veterinary treatment to remove the blockage as the bladder can rupture if left untreated.
3. Urinary tract infections (UTIs): UTIs do occur in dogs but are not as common as owners tend to believe. UTIs tend to be less common in male dogs, who have a longer urethra, but they can still occur in both male and female dogs of any age or breed. Dogs with underlying conditions such as chronic kidney disease, diabetes, urinary incontinence, abnormal bladder function, cancer, or diseases affecting the immune system are also predisposed to developing UTIs.
Treatment: Urinary tract infections in dogs are often treated successfully with antibiotics, however, they should be treated as soon as possible to avoid complications such as the development of bladder stones.
4. Prostatitis (males): Male dogs, both neutered and not, may suffer from prostate issues. The most common diseases of the prostate in dogs include infection, benign enlargement, and caner.
Treatment: This will vary depending on the cause, but benign enlargement is often treated by neutering. Hormonal treatment may also be an option in some cases. Infection is treated with antibiotics, however, long courses are often required as it can be difficult for antibiotics to penetrate the prostate.
Disclaimer: This content is not a substitute for veterinary care. Always consult with your vet for health decisions. Learn more.
5. Kidney stones: As previously mentioned, stones can develop anywhere in the urinary tract, including the kidneys.
Treatment: Most kidney stones do not require surgical removal unless they are causing a blockage to urine flow. In this case, specialized surgery is required to remove the obstruction.
6. Kidney infection (pyelonephritis): The usual cause is a bacterial infection that has moved from the bladder and lower urinary tract up to the kidneys. Therefore it’s very important to seek treatment as soon as possible if your pup has blood in their urine or is showing signs of urinary tract disease. Dogs with conditions affecting the bladder or kidneys (such as stones), diabetes, and Cushing’s disease (hyperadrenocorticism) are also predisposed to kidney infections.
Treatment: A long course of antibiotics, based on the bacteria cultured from the urine, is typically used to treat pyelonephritis. If your dog is unwell and their kidney function is affected, they may need to stay in hospital on a drip (intravenous fluid therapy) to receive more intensive care and monitoring.
Signs of Urinary Disease in Dogs:
If your dog is experiencing an issue with their urinary system, most typically you will see signs including:
· Urinating more frequently
· Passing small amounts of urine
· Blood in the urine (hematuria)
WATCH: 3 Important Tips To Care For an Old Dog [VET VIDEO]
· Painful urination or straining to urinate
· Unable to pass urine (an emergency as a blocked bladder is life-threatening)
· Licking the genitals
· Having accidents inside the house
Other Conditions Causing Blood in Dog’s Urine:
There are also other medical conditions worth mentioning that can also cause blood in your dog’s urine, including:
· Infectious diseases (including viruses and bacteria such as Leptospirosis)
· Coagulopathy (problem with blood clotting)
· Toxins (such as rat bait)
· Autoimmune disease
As you can see the causes for hematuria are wide and varied, ranging from mild to severe. Your veterinarian will be able to narrow down the most likely causes and recommend diagnostic tests to help identify why your pup has blood in their urine.
Seeing blood in your dog’s urine can be frightening but it is essential to find the cause so that it may be treated. If your dog is a senior, prompt diagnosis and treatment is especially important as these dogs are more likely to have serious or multiple health issues.