At Union Lake Veterinary Hospital , urinary issues are one of the more common reasons that our pet patients come to visit us. Be it urinating in the house, going out frequently, smelly urine, straining, or even the scary sight of blood, these issues can be alarming and frustrating for us as well as painful for our pets. 

Pet urinary problems are no fun (as humans who have had similar issues can attest), but understanding some of the main causes can help you to understand and better manage them. 

Urinary Tract Infections 

Urine should normally be a sterile fluid. The body’s immune system does its best to be sure that any unwanted bacterial invaders are swiftly and effectively destroyed. This does not mean, however, that a breach in the system may not occur. 

Urinary tract infections can happen for seemingly no reason at all. On occasion, bacteria from the outside environment makes its way up the urinary tract. This happens more often in female pets, as their urethra is shorter, with less distance to the bladder. Feces or moisture in the hair surrounding the external genitalia is the common source for a bacterial intruder. 

We are often able to diagnose a urinary tract infection (UTI) with a urine sample and may recommend a culture in order to identify the bacteria. Most urinary tract infections are treatable with a broad spectrum antibiotic. Pets who experience repeated urinary tract infections may have another underlying issue that predisposes them to problems. 

These may include: 

  • An abnormally formed urinary tract 
  • A resistant-type infection 
  • Urinary stones 
  • A growth in the bladde r/urinary tract 
  • A systemic condition, such as Cushing’s syndrome or diabetes 
  • An immune problem 


Out of all of the pet urinary problems that we see, probably the most common, particularly in cats, is cystitis. Cystitis refers to inflammation of the bladder lining. Oftentimes it is sterile, meaning no infection is present. 

Cystitis can resemble a UTI, with blood in the urine, straining, and more frequent urination. Cats with cystitis often stop using their litter boxes as they begin to associate it with discomfort. 

Diagnosed with a urine sample, we often cannot pinpoint what has caused this condition. Further testing is often warranted to rule out other conditions. Cystitis is managed with pain management, as well as reduction of environmental stress where possible. 

Stones as a Cause of Pet Urinary Problems 

When we find urinary stones, it can be a little intimidating for most pet owners. One of the more common of pet urinary problems, stones in the bladder or other parts of the urinary tract can cause major issues. 

Stones can form for multiple reasons. These culprits include: 

  • Ongoing urinary tract infections 
  • Abnormal urine pH 
  • Abnormal mineral content in urine 
  • Genetic conditions of abnormal metabolism 

Most urinary stones are visible on radiographs, but certain types are best visualized on ultrasound. If we diagnose a urolith (urinary stone), surgery is often recommended in order to retrieve it. Once removed, we can have the makeup of the offending deposit analyzed and recommend ways to prevent recurrence. These recommendations may include diet and hydration changes, along with periodic urinalysis and cultures. 

Pet urinary problems are a pain, both literally and figuratively. We are happy, however, to help you and your pet at the first signs of a problem. If your pet is having urinary troubles, give us a call today so that we can get started helping him or her feel better fast.