If you have been following this blog you know that he has been recently having some bladder problems and as a result I've done quite a bit of research on bladder problems in dogs. Here are some of the things I've learned so far.
1) Bladder infections are one of the most common reasons dogs and cats visit the vet. Most female dogs and cats will have at least one bladder infection in their life time.
2) Bladder infections are relatively uncommon in male dogs. Since male dogs have a longer urethral passage and pee more often then females bladder infections are much less common for them. However, when they do get an infection that often makes it a bit more challenging to treat. For example, Norbert's infection is very entrenched and is requiring multiple rounds of antibiotics.
3) A urine culture is a must. Without a full urine culture which takes three days to run and which shows exactly what bacteria is bothering a dog and exactly which antibiotics to use, you can't know how to effectively treat your dog. This is very important since if you use the wrong antibiotic you will never eliminate the infection.
4) A second urine culture is also a must. In order to show that the infection has been eradicated the urine needs to be checked again approximately three days before ending antibiotic therapy.
5) A urinalysis and X ray will rule out most other possible problems. A urinalysis is important in order to rule out diabetes which predisposes dogs to infections and is highly treatable with prompt attention. An Xray is a must if the infection is not responding to antibiotics or for any other reason crystals or stones are suspected.
6) An ultrasound will give you the most information. Ultrasounds are pricier then Xrays but they are the only way of getting a good look at the bladder. Ultrasounds can detect the presence of tumors and other problems.
7) Bladder cancer in dogs is more treatable now then ever before. Its not a very common cancer, effecting mostly female dogs and terrier breeds and shelties. While bladder cancer is still a very serious and terminal diagnosis for dogs, many treatment advances have been made. in the past bladder cancer survival for dogs was considered to be 0 days, with nearly every dog being euthanized at diagnosis. Now there are a number of effective treatments that can keep dogs comfortable, sometimes for years. Dogs can be treated with Piroxicam an anti inflammatory that is not very expensive and combining Piroxicam with chemotherapy can extend survival times to 6 months or a year. Most dogs do well with chemotherapy with few side effects.
8) Urine blockage is a major emergency. If a dog or cat can't urinate their life is in immediate danger. Most dogs who die of bladder cancer die of the blockage before the cancer metastisizes. Fortunately there are surgical options. While the tumor is usually difficult or impossible to remove, stents and drains are options that can keep dogs comfortable. If you live near New Jersey the Ridgewood animal hospital has also pioneered laser surgery for these tumors with excellent success.
9) Bladder tumors and the even more serious prostate tumors are more common in neutered then intact male dogs. I'm not advocating that people decide to not alter their dogs, but its important information to have when considering your options. In recent years a number of studies have revealed some health risks associated with spaying and neutering, particularly early altering, and it may effect how owners decide to proceed with their dogs.
10) For entrenched infections and recurrent infections consider supplements. Do not give your dog cranberry juice, its primarily grape juice and grapes are toxic. However, you can give Crananidin a safe cranberry based suplement available on Amazon.