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Let’s face it, our canine friends spend many of their walkies peeing up every tree, bush, and lamppost possible, and we rarely pay much attention to what they are passing. However, if you notice blood in your dog’s urine (haematuria), it can be both alarming and worrisome for any pet owner. So, what does it mean when a dog pees blood? What causes it? And when should you worry?
What Is Haematuria (Blood In Urine)?
The medical term for blood in urine is haematuria. The presence of red blood cells in urine can either be detected visually, causing a discoloration of the urine, or by using diagnostic tests. The discoloration can present as amber, orange, red, or brown. If only a small amount of blood is present in the urine, it may appear a normal color, and haematuria is only detected using a laboratory test.
Other conditions can lead to discolored urine, so the first thing you should do if you notice your dog’s urine is a funny color is contact your veterinarian.
To understand where the blood is coming from, first, we need a quick anatomy lesson. The kidneys filter blood to make urine. The urine drains into the bladder via two tubes called ureters (one from the left kidney and one from the right kidney), where urine is stored. When the urine is passed (or voided), it drains out of the bladder and through the urethra. The kidneys and ureters make up the upper urinary tract, whereas the bladder and urethra make up the lower urinary tract. Blood in the urine can result from bleeding in any of these structures.
What Causes Blood In Dogs’ Urine?
There are many different reasons why there may be blood in a dog’s urine, including:
Upper Urinary Tract Causes
A kidney infection could cause blood in your dog’s urine. Severe kidney infections can progress quickly and cause your dog to feel unwell with a high temperature, abdominal pain, and lethargy. Dogs with kidney infections may drink more and urinate more.
Kidney stones are relatively uncommon in pet dogs but can occur in one or both kidneys. Dogs may experience abdominal pain and vomiting with kidney stones, and peeing blood may be intermittent.
Tumors of the kidney can cause bleeding into the urinary tract. Kidney tumors can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous), or spread from other organs.
Idiopathic Renal Haematuria
The term “idiopathic” means unknown or undiagnosed. This condition describes blood in a dog’s urine when all other causes have been eliminated. It may be caused by some medications or problems with the immune system.
Kidney Inflammation Or Vasculitis
Specific infections caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites can result in inflammation of the kidneys and the blood vessels within the kidneys resulting in bleeding into the urinary tract.
Lower Urinary Tract Causes
A lower urinary tract infection (UTI) is the most common cause of blood in dog urine. Bladder infections are more common in female than male dogs. A bladder infection may cause dogs to urinate more frequently, strain when peeing, or seem in discomfort when they go to the toilet.
The symptoms of bladder tumors are similar to urinary tract infections in dogs. The blood in urine may be constant or intermittent, and dogs may have accidents indoors or not be able to hold their urine.
Bladder stones form from crystals in the bladder and result in inflammation and bleeding of the inside layer of the bladder wall. There are different types of bladder stones (uroliths) in dogs that occur due to diet, bladder infections, or genetic factors. Large bladder stones may cause the urethra to block. This is more common in male dogs as the urethra is narrower. A dog that is trying to pee but cannot pass urine requires urgent veterinary care.
Prostate enlargement, prostate infections, and prostate tumors can all cause blood in the urine of male dogs. Some dogs may strain to pass urine or struggle to pass poo.
Trauma to the upper or lower urinary tract because of blunt force or a road traffic accident may cause blood in the urine in the hours or days after the trauma.
A coagulopathy, or condition in which the blood’s ability to clot is impaired, can cause excessive bleeding. This may be due to problems with the immune system or due to toxin ingestion such as rat bait ingestion. Bleeding disorders can be rapidly very serious and even fatal. Dogs with a bleeding disorder may be very weak and lethargic, show bleeding from other parts of the body, or have pale gums. If bleeding also occurs internally in the chest or abdomen, this can cause extreme blood loss. A dog peeing blood and breathing heavily is a medical emergency.
The age and sex of a dog may give some clues as to what is causing the bleeding. A female dog peeing blood (but acting normal) is more likely to have a urinary tract infection or inflammation, whereas a male dog peeing blood (but acting normal) is more likely to have bladder stones or a prostate problem. A puppy peeing blood could be due to infection or a genetic condition that affects blood clotting or kidney function.
What Do I Do If My Dog Is Peeing Blood?
If your dog is urinating blood, the first thing to do is contact your veterinarian and make an appointment or go to an emergency vet if your general veterinarian is closed. A dog peeing blood but acting normal should generally be seen within 24 hours. However, if your dog is unwell, weak, collapsing, or bleeding from anywhere else (such as their nose or mouth) then urgent veterinary attention should be sought.
How Will A Vet Diagnose Haematuria?
Your veterinarian may need to perform various tests to diagnose the source of bleeding. Analysis of your dog’s urine will be recommended to look for signs of infection or urine crystals. An x-ray of the bladder and kidneys may be performed to assess the size and position of the bladder and rule out certain types of bladder stones. Contrast material placed in the bladder can be used to assess the lining of the bladder wall and the urethra. This is known as contrast radiography. An ultrasound scan may be recommended to examine the bladder, prostate, and kidneys and screen for tumors or bladder stones.
Ultrasound scans and x-rays are often performed under sedation or general anesthesia. If your vet is concerned about a urine infection, it may be necessary to take a sterile urine sample from the bladder by guiding a small needle through the bladder wall. This procedure is called a cystocentesis.
How Is Blood In My Dog’s Urine Treated?
Treatment depends on the cause of the bleeding. Simple urinary tract infections are often treated with antibiotic and anti-inflammatory medication. Some bladder stones can be managed by changing your dog’s diet, whereas others require surgery to remove them. Depending on the cause of haematuria, your veterinarian will tailor a treatment plan to your dog’s needs, overall health, and other conditions they may suffer from.
What Should You Do If Your Dog Has Bloody Urine?
Monitoring your dog’s urinary habits is an important part of checking on its overall health. If you are a dog parent, seeing blood in your dog’s urine is a scary sight, but it is often treatable. A simple urinary tract infection or a benign prostate problem could be the cause. However, there are more serious, and potentially life-threatening reasons dogs pee blood, such as a clotting disorder. If you suspect your dog might have blood in his urine, then don’t delay contacting your veterinarian. A prompt diagnosis means faster treatment, hopefully returning your pooch to full health. Learn more about dogs marking their territory, pee pads for potty accidents, and at-home urine tests for dogs.
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