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canine health problems

What to do if your dog is peeing blood

Don’t panic if you’re suddenly seeing red

Updated August 28, 2020

Created By

Kate Morgan,
Dog peeing on grass

📸 by Jason Meredith

The essentials

  • Blood in the urine is called hematuria It’s not that uncommon — lots of dogs will experience it at some point in their lives.
  • Most causes of hematuria are minor Urinary tract infections, hormones, and bladder or kidney stones are some of the benign or easily-treatable conditions that cause bleeding when a dog pees.
  • In rare cases, it’s a symptom of cancer Though kidney and urinary tract cancers are uncommon in dogs, hematuria can be a sign that there’s a serious problem.
  • Quick treatment and prevention are important Nutrition plays a role in keeping your dog’s urinary tract healthy. It’s important to occasionally monitor their potty habits to check for hematuria.

Finding blood in your dog’s urine can make for a pretty scary pet parent moment. The technical term is hematuria; it’s a condition that many dogs may experience at some point in their lives, and there are a number of reasons it can happen. If you’ve noticed blood showing up in your dog’s pee, don’t panic. It’s important to figure out why it’s happening, but most of the time it’s a symptom of something totally treatable.

Common causes of hematuria

Most causes of hematuria are fairly benign. The most common, by a long shot, is a run-of-the-mill urinary tract infection. A UTI usually occurs because bacteria — often E. coli or debris — gets into the urethra. It can also happen when a dog’s immune system is compromised by something like skin or ear infections. Normally, a UTI is easy to treat with antibiotics.

Blood in the urine may be coming from the kidneys. When blood from the kidneys ends up in the urine for an indeterminate reason, it’s called idiopathic renal hematuria. This is usually also considered benign, and it can happen because of an infection, an immune system issue, or as a side effect of medication.

Some breeds may be more prone to having bloody urine

Certain breeds, including Welsh corgis, are predisposed to a hereditary condition called renal telangiectasia — a spontaneous widening of blood vessels in the kidneys which can produce some blood when they pee. Clotting problems or clotting disorders can result in bloody urine. Bladder infections, bladder tumors, cystitis (or bladder inflammation), kidney infection, kidney stones, and bladder stones are other common, treatable possible causes of hematuria.

Breeds most prone to hematuria:

  • Scottish Terriers
  • Shetland Sheepdogs
  • Welsh Corgis
  • West Highland White Terriers

Things to consider

Hematuria may not be cause for panic in female dogs

In female dogs, there are other benign causes. Spayed females can occasionally develop hormone-related incontinence, which can contribute to the formation of UTIs and sometimes bloody urine. Females that aren’t spayed will come into heat between one and three times a year and can have a bloody vaginal discharge as part of the cycle. What looks like bloody urine might actually just be a sign that your dog is mid-estrus.

Male dogs may have bloody urine for different reasons

In male dogs, especially those that are unneutered, hematuria can be a symptom of benign prostate hyperplasia, a non-life-threatening abnormal growth of the prostate gland.

👉 While your dog’s bloody urine may not be cause for panic, it’s still important to get your pup to the vet ASAP in case it’s more serious.

Hematuria could indicate cancer

In some cases, blood in the urine could be the first indication that your dog is very ill. It’s rare for dogs to develop cancer in their kidneys, bladder, ureters or urethra, but it can occur, and when it does, the underlying cause is commonly accompanied by hematuria.

Before you freak yourself out, assess your dog for other symptoms of these cancers, which include weight and appetite loss, fever, difficulty urinating, or painful or frequent urination.

Some breeds are at a higher risk for these cancers

If you’ve got a Scottish or West Highland White Terrier or a Shetland Sheepdog1, it’s even more important to be vigilant. Do your best to catch hematuria as soon as it develops, and get them to the vet for diagnostic testing.

Pet owners can potentially speed up the process by arriving with a urine sample already in hand. Just collect one in a clean container and bring it to the vet right away. If you can’t get there immediately, it can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before the sample is compromised.

Dog being examined by a vet

the examination is usually quick and easy 🙌

Vets can help diagnose and treat hematuria 

👉  The best way to determine the cause of your dog’s hematuria is a trip to the vet. 

Most of the time, they’ll start with a physical examination followed by urinalysis, or a slightly more expensive test called a urine culture, to determine if the issue is bacterial, or if your dog has a UTI. It’s likely the doctor will do a blood test, check your dog’s blood count, and, depending on other symptoms or test results, do some X-ray or ultrasound imaging.

If it’s related to bacteria or another kind of infection, treatment options for your dog’s hematuria might include antibiotics. If it seems like your pet’s experiencing discomfort or pain, it’s also very common for the vet to prescribe anti-inflammatories or pain medications.

If the blood is because of an enlarged prostate or a prostate infection in a male dog, the vet will probably recommend they be neutered. Surgery is also common to address prostatic disease, bladder stones or anatomical deformities that are causing a problem.

The best treatment is prevention

You can reduce your dog’s odds of developing hematuria with a few simple changes at home. A change in diet and improved nutrition can not only help treat, but also prevent issues in your dog’s urinary tract. While some foods, such as asparagus, tomatoes, spinach, and raw carrots can create more irritation in a dog with a UTI, other fruits and vegetables offer B vitamins and antioxidants that can help reduce the symptoms. In general, dogs with UTIs should be given more wet foods, which will dilute the urine.

Dietary changes can also be a part of bladder stone treatment. In some cases, depending on the type of bladder stone, the vet may try to dissolve the stones by placing the dog on a specialized diet. This only works on a kind of stone called a struvite, and the process is slow, but in those cases it can be a way to avoid surgery.

Most dog owners are content to give their dogs a bit of privacy while they do their business, and it may feel awkward to watch your dog peeing, but monitoring potty breaks sometimes is a part of responsible pet ownership. Though its causes are typically minor, hematuria could be an indicator of a more serious problem. Even in benign cases, it can be uncomfortable for your dog — even more reason to get treatment quickly, ensuring your pet stays healthy and happy.

Sources

Breed-Predispositions to Cancer in Pedigree Dogs, https://www.hindawi.com/journals/isrn/2013/941275/