Cranberry has been used as a natural way to help reduce the risk of urinary tract infection in people for decades. It doesn’t matter if it’s fresh, frozen, canned or dried, cranberry packs a punch when it comes to healthy benefits. This little red berry can also help prevent urinary tract infection in dogs and cats.
What is urinary tract infection in dogs and cats?
Urinary tract infection is a bacterial infection in the bladder or urethra. The urethra is the tube urine goes through on the way out of the body. Crystals can develop in the urinary tract and clog up the urethra making it difficult or impossible for a dog or cat to go to the bathroom. The crystals can pass through on their own, but if they don’t, your dog or cat needs immediate veterinarian care. Surgery may be required to clear a blockage and sometimes larger stones have developed which will need to be removed. Crystals can be cleaned out by sedating the dog or cat just enough to keep them calm. A catheter is then inserted into the urethra to flush out crystals or small stones in the urine with a saline solution. Female cats can develop urinary tract infection, but male cats are more likely to have problems with UTI. Kidney and bladder stones can also interfere with proper elimination functions in dogs and cats if one gets stuck in the opening of the kidney or anywhere along the urinary system on it’s way out of the body. Female dogs are more prone to bladder infections, especially if they’ve been spayed. Male dogs who develop stones don’t always show symptoms and the stones may not be found until your vet is doing a regular checkup. Anytime your dog or cat isn’t eating or acting normal and it lasts longer than 36 hours, you should always take him to your vet for a checkup.
Symptoms of urinary tract infection in dogs and cats.
-Blood in their urine
-Urine that has a strong or different odor than usual and looks cloudy or darker than usual.
-Accidents in the house, a cat not using the cat pan and preferring to use the bathtub, sink, tile floor or concrete. A dog who squats or lifts his leg repeatedly without producing any urine.
-Only leaving small spots of urine or nothing at all after trying to go.
-Excessive grooming around the genital area.
-Pain, whining, excessive meowing while trying to go
-A pet who appears to be in distress or straining to go.
-Trying to urinate but not being able to get anything out. A female dog who squats repeatedly while trying to go.
-A lump in their lower tummy which is a collection of urine. Depending on how full their bladder is, the lump can be tender to touch.
-Drinking more water than usual.
Dogs and cats will do everything they can to try and hide their pain. Cats don’t just purr when they’re feeling happy and contented. They also purr when they feel discomfort or pain, are sick, confused and even when they are scared. Some cats may disappear when they don’t feel well and hide, which is an instinctive reaction to avoid predators in the wild. If you’ve noticed any of the above symptoms in either your dog or cat, you need to take them to your vet. Urinary tract infection is not something to mess around with and it can do serious damage to their urinary tract or bladder. Antibiotics will need to be given to clear up the infection. They can have recurring bouts with UTI and adding cranberry to their diet can help prevent infection from coming back. However, you do need to be aware that making urine too acidic for extended periods can lead to other types of bladder stones. It never hurts to discuss ways to prevent urinary tract infection with your vet before starting your dog or cat on cranberry supplements or the actual fruit in any form.
How cranberry can help prevent urinary tract infection in dogs and cats.
Cranberry helps to keep bacteria from sticking to the wall of the bladder by making the urine more acidic (lower ph) which creates an unhealthy environment for the bad bacteria to grow in. A diabetic cat or dog can benefit from long term treatment using cranberry to help prevent more persistent occurrences and urinary tract infections are more common in diabetic pets. Adding Vitamin C in doses of 10 mg per pound twice a day can help reduce the urine’s ph level. Keep in mind, however, if there are bladder stones or other types of stones present, cranberry alone won’t clear up an infection. More aggressive treatment with antibiotics, or surgery, will be needed. Using cranberry and other supplements can help prevent UTI only. Cranberry supplements usually work the best because most dogs and cats don’t like the taste of cranberry, but if your pet does like them, you can add cranberry to their food or add cranberry juice to their water. Just make sure you don’t overdo the juice in their water. They need to drink water regularly to maintain a healthy urinary system. If you get cranberry supplements from your vet, make sure to follow the directions on the bottle. You can give your dog or cat supplements made for humans, but keep in mind they are made according to the weight of a person who obviously weighs more than a pet. Divide a human capsule over the course of a day in two or three doses to adjust for the differences in weight.
Urinary tract infections (UTI) and bladder infections can be life threatening for pets if left untreated. It’s inconclusive how big a role diet might play in the development of urinary tract infections in dogs and cats. Once a dog or cat has had a bout with UTI, they can have recurring episodes. It’s important to know the warning signs for early treatment to reduce damage to the pet’s bladder and for their good health. Make sure they always have plenty of fresh water daily. Cranberry has been used to help prevent urinary tract infections in humans for years and our pets can also benefit from this healthy little red berry. If you have a diabetic pet or one with other medical issues, discuss giving your pet cranberry, or any other supplements, with your vet first.
Tess Thompson, Cat Urinary Tract Infection Home Remedies, PetAlive
Dr. Jennifer, Will cranberries and antibiotics help clear up my diabetic dog, Cookie’s urinary tract infection?, caninediabetes.org
Cj Puotinen and Mary Straus, Canine Kidney Stone and Bladder Stone Prevention, The Whole Dog Journal