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Common diseases in older dogs: Urinary Tract Infection

across the street

If you've noticed that your dog has been urinating more frequently than usual, urinating in the house or has been whining to go out more often, he may have a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). UTIs are painful infections that give dogs an urgent and frequent need to urinate.

Increased frequency of urination and inappropriate urination may also be indicative of other diseases that commonly affect older dogs including kidney failure, diabetes and Cushing's disease. It's important for your vet to determine what is causing these symptoms, so that your dog can be treated appropriately.

UTIs are common in dogs and are more likely to affect older, spayed females and non-neutered males. In most cases, UTIs can be treated by your veterinarian, but it is very important to properly treat these infections, not only for your dog's comfort, but because untreated UTIs can lead to kidney failure or a chronic, recurrent infection.

Signs your dog might have a UTI

In addition to increased frequency of urination, the classic signs of a UTI are:

  • Urination in inappropriate places
  • Difficulty when urinating (straining)
  • Pink or red urine (indicating the presence of blood)
  • Strong and/or foul smelling urine
  • Lethargy
  • Fever

If you notice any of these signs you should have your dog examined immediately. Your veterinarian will give your dog a urinalysis to determine the presence of bacteria - which will confirm that your dog has an infection. If your dog is diagnosed with a UTI, your veterinarian will probably recommend oral antibiotics to treat the infection. Treatment usually includes one to two pills a day for the duration of at least two weeks.

Steps you can take to prevent UTIs

Make sure your dog has the opportunity to go outside every few hours in order for him to relieve himself. Also, ensure your dog drinks plenty of fresh water throughout the day. This will help flush out his urethra and help prevent bacteria from entering his bladder.

  • The Serious Benefits of Play

    dog carrying a frisbee in its mouth

    Playing and having fun helps to eliminate stress from your life—and the same holds true for your dog. In fact, incorporating various forms of play into your dog's daily routine is vital to helping him develop a healthy, loving personality.

    The benefits of play

    Here are some of the ways that playing and having fun is important:

    • Physical health. Active play helps keep your dog's heart healthy, keeps the joints lubricated, and improves his overall balance and coordination.
    • Mental health. Games with rules force your dog to use his brain, not just his body. This can help keep his mind sharp and focused.
    • Social skills. When your dog plays with other dogs and other people, it helps improve his overall social skills. He learns basic rules and how to play by them.
    • Bonding. Even if it's only for a few minutes a day, playing with your dog helps strengthen the bond between you.
    • Your health. What better way to alleviate the stress of a busy workday and get a bit of exercise than to come home and play with your dog? It's a win-win for both of you.

    How to play with your dog

    There are right ways—and wrong ways—to play. The most important thing to remember is that you're the boss. You decide what games should be played and you set the rules. This helps establish your credibility as the pack leader. It also helps keep your dog from getting overly excited and out of control while you play. If your dog does become difficult to manage, simply put a stop to the game until he calms down again.

    When you're teaching your dog a new game, reward him when he does well. Remember, rewards don't have to be just treats. You can also reward him with his favorite toys or lots of hugs and praise.

    When you start out teaching your dog a new game, keep it simple and go through the game slowly, until your dog fully grasps the rules. Also, wait until he fully understands one game before you teach him a new one, otherwise it will end up confusing him.

    Playtime tips

    • Avoid games like keep away, wrestling, or tug-of-war. Those games encourage biting or dominant, aggressive behavior.
    • Stay in control of the game at all times. Show your dog that you're the pack leader, not just another member of the pack. Retrieval games are good at teaching control.
    • Don't include your body or clothing as part of any game.
    • Incorporate the SIT or DOWN and STAY commands in every game.
    • You decide when it's time to end the game, not your dog. The best time to stop the game is when your dog is still eager to play.
    • If, for some reason, your dog doesn't seem to understand the game at some point, go back to the beginning, or simply leave it and try again a few days later. Don't get angry if you're dog isn't "getting it" right away. Remember it's supposed to be a fun experience for both of you!

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