Tracking a common infection in our study dogs
Each month, we explain a few questions from the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study questionnaire.
Infectious diseases caused by organisms such as internal parasites, bacteria and viruses, are very common in companion animals. Participating veterinarians in the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study keep careful track of the infectious diseases they encounter in their study patients. Many of the most common types of infection involve the urinary tract, which includes the kidneys, bladder, ureters and urethra.
Previous studies suggest that on average, 14 percent of dogs develop a urinary tract infection at least once in their lifetime. Female dogs are reported to have an even higher incidence, with 27 percent developing an infection in their lifetime.
We looked at our Golden Retriever Lifetime Study dogs and found that 11 percent have been reported to have had at least one urinary tract infection. Sixty-four percent of these dogs are female.
Typical signs of urinary tract infection include straining to urinate, discolored urine, frequent urination and inappropriate urination. Infections are more common in female dogs than male dogs.
Urinary tract infections commonly are classified as uncomplicated or complicated. Uncomplicated infections have no underlying factors compromising the normal defenses of the urinary tract. These infections tend to be easy to treat and eliminate.
A urinary tract infection is considered complicated if an underlying abnormality likely contributed to development of the infection. Factors that influence development of urinary tract infections include immunosuppressive medications, structural malformations of the urinary tract, and concurrent diseases. As expected, complicated infections are harder to treat, because the underlying problem often needs to be addressed to effectively eliminate the infection.
Diagnosis of urinary tract infections is based on a combination of clinical signs and test results. Urinalysis is an easy and inexpensive way to start screening dogs for infections, but the most accurate diagnostic test is urine culture. If an underlying problem is suspected, or first-line therapies fail, other diagnostic tests might be appropriate. Your veterinarian can guide you on which tests are most appropriate for your dog.
Urinary tract infections can be uncomfortable. Recognizing a problem quickly will not only help relieve your dog’s discomfort, but also keep the infection from spreading to other parts of the urinary tract.
A large amount of published data exists regarding urinary tract infections in dogs, a number of which have received funding from Morris Animal Foundation, but the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study presents a unique opportunity to follow dogs over the course of their lifetimes to look at the natural progression of urinary tract infections and identify potential risk factors involved in their development.