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What are the signs seen with a urinary tract infection?

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Cat in litter box by wolfsavard on Flickr

Cat in litter box

by wolfsavard on Flickr
Question: What are the signs seen with a urinary tract infection?
Urinary problems are commonly seen in dogs and cats. Symptoms can range from "obviously sick" to very few signs seen, depending on the length and severity of infection. Being familiar with possible warning signs could help save your pet's life. Learn more in this FAQ entry.
Answer: Urinary tract infections are classified as "upper" or "lower". An infection of the kidneys is an upper urinary tract infection, an infection of the bladder and urethra is a lower urinary tract infection.

The following clinical signs can be seen with pyelonephritis, urinary tract infections, urinary calculi (bladder stones), prostatitis (prostate inflammation or infection), and some urinary tract cancers. Any combination of the signs may be seen.

  • unable to urinate
  • straining to urinate - before, during or post urination - may be misinterpreted as constipation
  • painful urination, whining
  • bloody urine
  • foul-smelling urine
  • cloudy urine
  • urinary "accidents" or urinating out of the litterbox for cats
  • urinary incontinence (dribbling, leaking while sleeping)
  • drinking and urinating more often than usual
  • painful abdomen (belly area)
  • excessive licking of genital area
  • lethargic
  • not eating, decreased appetite
  • vomiting and/or diarrhea

It may be tempting to write off symptoms such as inappropriate urination as "bad" behavior, but medical problems should always be ruled out first. Urinary problems can quickly (within hours) become a life-threatening medical emergencies if an animal becomes blocked. Prompt attention and care are essential.

Please call your veterinarian immediately if your pet exhibits any of these signs. Time is important -- urinary blockages and infections can quickly become life threatening!

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