Dog Peeing Blood – What Should You Do?

dog pee on the carper
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Bloody urine (medical term: hematuria) can have a number of causes in dogs, from completely benign to serious.

This is a common complaint, however, and most dogs can get a diagnosis and treatment quickly from their vet without undergoing invasive diagnostics.

Severity:

Mild to moderate to severe

Table of Content

Key points

  • Several possible causes mean diagnosis by a veterinarian is required
  • The majority of cases are easy and cheap to treat
  • Some cases will need life-long management 
  • Urgent but not an emergency – unless the dog becomes unable to urinate

Common in:

Any age and breed, but maybe more common in immunocompromised dogs – the young, the elderly, and those with an underlying disease. Dalmatians are also over-represented.

Symptoms and types

Dogs with blood in their urine may have inflammation in their urinary tract, which is usually painful. You might notice your dog licking at their penis or vulva to soothe the irritation. Dogs with urinary inflammation may also feel the need to urinate more often – they’ll ask to go out a lot or squat more often, but produce only a small amount of urine. You may also notice straining or obvious pain when urinating.

Other symptoms include:

  • Drinking more
  • Lethargy and being ‘off-color’
  • Nausea
  • Behavioral changes – especially in older dogs
  • Smelly urine
  • Weight loss

There are lots of different possible causes of blood in your dog’s urine but – with the exception of females in heat – none are normal.

Understanding the diagnostics

Your vet will ask you a few questions and check over your dog to help rule out possible causes of the blood in your dog’s urine.

A urine exam comes next – so take a fresh sample to the vet if you can. Don’t worry if you didn’t manage to get one though, the vet might catch one at the practice, or take one with a needle and syringe if your dog is small enough. 

A paper strip called a ‘dipstick’ will be used to test things like the pH of the urine and whether there are any white blood cells that suggest inflammation.

The urine will also be examined under the microscope for bacteria and crystals. In some cases, the urine may need to go to an external laboratory for more extensive testing.

Depending on the results, your vet might also request imaging – usually an ultrasound or an x-ray – in order to look for problems in the bladder or kidneys. Blood tests may also be recommended, to look at markers of kidney trouble.

Learning about the causes

1. Urinary Tract Infection

A urinary tract infection (or ‘UTI’) is the most common cause of blood in a dog’s urine. The bacteria responsible is often E. coli, but many other bacteria (or even fungi and parasites!) can also be found.

Urinary tract infections are more common in female dogs or those with underlying diseases such as kidney disease, diabetes, or Cushing’s disease.

2. Urinary Stones or Crystals

3. Cancers of the Urinary Tract

Bladder and kidney tumors are fairly rare in dogs but do occur. Like most cancers, bladder tumors usually affect older dogs.

4. Prostate Problems

In boys, prostate problems can cause bloody urine. Prostate infections, benign prostate enlargement, and prostate cancer may all cause blood to leak into the urine stream – you might also notice a slower urine flow than usual.

5. Other causes

Of course, many other things can also cause bloody urine in dogs, including:

  • Kidney bleeding (unknown cause)
  • Bleeding and clotting disorders
  • Trauma to the penis or vagina
  • Transmissible venereal tumors 
  • Estrus (in unspayed females)
  • Bladder polyps

Best treatment options

Depending on the cause of the blood, treatment can range from no treatment to antibiotics, to a diet change, to surgery.

You should follow your vet’s advice for all treatment, and ensure that any antibiotic courses are completely finished – it’s common for bacteria involved in a UTI to be resistant to one or more antibiotics.

Home remedies and their effectiveness

When to see a vet

It’s best to see a vet as soon as you notice blood in your dog’s wee. Delay can cause many cases to worsen.

However, as long as your dog is bright and alert and passing urine when they go, you don’t have to call the emergency vet - a daytime appointment in the next 24 hours is fine!

Monitor them closely for signs of deterioration, including no more urine coming out, as this is an emergency.

FAQ

If the dog is bright and well otherwise, not in obvious pain, and is still passing urine, blood in pee isn’t an emergency. However, it is potentially urgent, and it’s best to get seen within 24 hours.

If your dog becomes lethargic or unable to pass urine this is an emergency, and you should get seen within an hour.

Dogs can urinate blood for a number of reasons, including a urinary tract infection, urinary stones, or prostate or bladder problems. Most of these are curable with early intervention, so take your dog to the vet as soon as you notice a problem.

If your dog is peeing blood you should book a vet appointment in the next 24 hours. Take a sample of their urine in a clean container to show the vet. Monitor your dog closely until your appointment to make sure they don’t deteriorate.

Peeing blood can mean many things, some of which are easily curable, like a urinary tract infection. Others can be more serious and may not be treatable.

Luckily, the common causes are the least serious, and – whilst urgent – they’re rarely immediately life-threatening.

If your dog appears to be susceptible to urinary infections you may want to start them on a bladder supplement with cranberry extract.

 

For dogs that are prone to or have been diagnosed with urinary crystals or stones, your vet will advise you about diets to prevent recurrence in the future.

After graduating from the University of Nottingham, Jo went on to work in companion animal practice in the UK. After spending time in an orthopaedic referral hospital, a feline only practice, and a general practice with out-of-hours, she moved to working as a locum relief vet in order to spend more time writing. She lives in the Channel Islands with her partner Ian and their badly behaved terrier, Pixie.

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