What Does It Mean If Your Dog Can’t Pee?

Taking good care of your dog involves paying some attention to their behavior and habits. This is important as it can help you to identify potential problems. One aspect of your dog’s routine to which you should pay attention is their toilet habits. Changes to their peeing and pooping routines can indicate all sorts of problems, some of which are minor and some that are potentially extremely serious. If you notice that your dog is having difficulty peeing, then this is a cause for concern. Here is an overview of the potential causes of your dog having difficulty peeing and what you should do about this.

Urinary Tract Infections

When a dog cannot pee, it is referred to as urinary retention, says the American Kennel Club. One of the most common causes of this is a urinary tract infection (UTI). When a dog is suffering from a urinary tract infection, they will feel a frequent need to urinate combined with an inability to urinate. If your dog does pee, you may notice that they can only pee a small amount. When this happens, your dog will feel uncomfortable. They may also suffer from the generic symptoms of an infection, such as high temperature, shivering, lethargy, and a lack of appetite.

Does a UTI Require a Vet Appointment?

If your dog is suffering from a urinary tract infection, it is essential that your dog sees the vet as soon as possible. Your vet will need to examine your dog to make a diagnosis and decide on the best course of action to take. They may need to take a blood sample and a sample of your dog’s urine to identify the specific type of UTI from which your dog is suffering.

How is a Urinary Tract Infection Treated?

According to Wag Walking, there are several treatments for urinary tract infection, and your vet will decide which treatments are necessary. These may include:

  • A course of antibiotics
  • Increasing water intake
  • Urinary acidifiers or alkalinizers
  • Medication to relax the urethra and bladder

Urinary Tract Obstructions

Another cause of dogs having difficulty peeing is a urinary tract obstruction. This is an extremely serious condition where there is a blockage along the urinary tract. This is either a partial blockage or a full blockage. Both conditions are serious, but a full blockage is potentially fatal. Tex Vet Pets says that a dog with a urinary obstruction may suffer from the following symptoms:

  • Posturing to urinate with very little or no urine produced
  • Blood in the urine
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite

There are many possible causes of urinary obstruction. Some of these include:

  • Bladder stones or urethral stones
  • A benign or cancerous tumor
  • An enlarged prostate gland

Can Any Dog Get a Urinary Obstruction?

Any dog can get a urinary obstruction, although the causes can differ between male and female dogs. Only male dogs can have a urinary obstruction caused by an enlarged prostate because this is a gland that females do not have. There is also a difference in the severity of a urinary obstruction between male and female dogs. Bladder and urethral stones are often a bigger problem for males, and they are more likely to require surgical intervention. This is because of the differences in male and female anatomies.

Female dogs have a shorter and wider urethra than male dogs. This means that a stone is more likely to pass through their body naturally. Male dogs have a longer urethra, which means a stone has further to travel before leaving the body, thus causing pain for longer. Furthermore, a male dog’s urethra narrows towards its penis. This means that there is a greater likelihood of the stone lodging in the urethra, meaning that surgical intervention is necessary.

Is a Urinary Tract Obstruction an Emergency?

If your dog has a urinary obstruction, it is always a medical emergency and they will need an emergency appointment with your vet. Failure to treat this condition will almost certainly lead to death as toxins building your dog’s body as they cannot get rid of them through urination. Your dog will need an immediate examination to determine the cause of the obstruction. In addition to the physical examination, your vet will also conduct any necessary tests. These may include blood tests, urine samples, scans, or x-rays.

Treatment of a Urinary Obstruction

How a urinary obstruction is treated depends on the cause of the obstruction. Some potential treatments include:

  • Catheterization- A tube is inserted into the urinary tract to release urine. This treatment is used for most causes of obstruction.
  • Manual bladder expression- Another way that a vet may relieve pressure on the bladder is to perform regular manual bladder expression.
  • Surgery- A tumor that is obstructing the urinary tract may require surgery. Similarly, a bladder stone or urethral stone that does not pass naturally requires surgical intervention. Likewise, prostate problems may also require surgery.
  • Medication- Your vet may deliver a variety of medications to your dog, either orally or intravenously. Each medication is prescribed for different purposes. For example, your dog may need pain relief, antibiotics, and medication to change the pH levels of your dog’s urine.

Difficulty in Peeing for Dogs – The Bottom Line

Difficulty in peeing is a common problem for dogs, and the causes are usually either a urinary tract infection or a urinary obstruction. Regardless of the cause, it is essential that your dog sees a vet immediately so that the cause is determined, and your vet can begin the necessary treatment. UTIs can range from being a minor issue to a serious illness, but they are almost always treatable with antibiotics. On the other hand, urinary obstruction is always a medical emergency as this is a potentially fatal situation. The treatment depends on the cause of the obstruction, but surgery is often needed.


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