Bladder infection (UTI) in dogs


  • Bladder infections in dogs, also called UTIs, are usually caused by bacteria and are more common in female dogs.
  • Symptoms include difficulty or painful peeing, peeing more often, and blood in the urine.
  • A UTI usually clears up quickly with treatment, but can come back if there is an underlying cause or if antibiotics are stopped too early.

General information

Cystitis is the name for inflammation of the bladder. In dogs this is usually caused by a bacterial infection, which is sometimes also called a UTI (urinary tract infection), bladder infection, or urine infection. They are more common in female dogs. Bladder infections usually only occur if there is another medical problem present that affects the urinary tract, such as:

Symptoms of UTI in dogs

Symptoms of a bladder infection include:

  • Pain when peeing
  • Straining to pee
  • Strong-smelling pee
  • Peeing more often
  • Peeing in very small amounts
  • Peeing in the house
  • Blood in urine
  • Licking their private parts
  • Painful abdomen (tummy)


Your vet will ask you some questions about your dog and feel your dog’s bladder. They might ask you for a fresh urine sample. If your dog keeps getting symptoms of cystitis, your vet might want to carry out further tests such as blood tests, X-rays, or an ultrasound of the bladder. They might also recommend sending away some urine for further testing.

If your vet asks you for a urine sample, check out our page on how to take a urine sample from your dog.


Treatment for a UTI is likely to include:

  • Antibiotics — a short course of antibiotics is usually an effective cure for a bladder infection. It’s important that you follow your vet’s instructions and complete the whole course of antibiotics.
  • Pain relief — your vet might prescribe some anti-inflammatory pain relief, to help soothe bladder pain and inflammation
  • Drinking — make sure your dog drinks lots of water to help flush out their bladder. You can also add water to their food to help increase the amount of water they drink.
  • Toileting — take your dog outside often to allow them to keep emptying their bladder.
  • Other treatment — if an underlying cause has been found, such as bladder stones, your vet will want to treat that as well.


The outlook may vary depending on the underlying cause of the UTI.  Simple urinary infections usually clear up within a few days of starting treatment. If the infection comes back your vet might want to investigate further to see what’s causing the problem.

When to contact your vet

Contact your vet if you notice a change in your dog’s peeing habits, as a UTI can be very painful. Although it is rare, a bladder infection can spread to the kidneys which can be very serious, so it is best to contact your vet if you think your dog has a UTI.

You know your dog best, always contact your vet if you’re concerned.


Treatment for a UTI can become expensive if there is an underlying cause. It’s important to speak openly to your vet about your finances, the cost of treatment, as well as what you think is right for your dog. There are often several treatment options so if one doesn’t work for you and your pet then the vet may be able to offer another.

Consider insuring your dog as soon as you get them, before any signs of illness start. This will ensure you have all the support you need to care for them.


Will cranberry juice help my dog to recover from a UTI?

There isn’t a lot of evidence that cranberry juice will help dogs with cystitis, but it is safe for dogs, so you can try giving your dog cranberry juice alongside the medical treatment as directed by your vet.

Are UTIs contagious in dogs?

No, UTIs aren’t contagious.

How do I prevent cystitis in my dog?

UTIs are the main cause of cystitis (bladder inflammation) in dogs. You can help reduce the risk of your dog getting a UTI by making sure they have fresh, clean water at all times and go out to empty their bladder when they need to.

Published: June 2023

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Written by vets and vet nurses. This advice is for UK pets only. Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst.