Pyelonephritis In Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, & Treatments

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Pyelonephritis in dogs is a bacterial infection of the ureter in the kidney, which is part of the upper urinary tract. It is generally caused by a lower urinary tract infection that migrates upward toward the kidney, though it can have other causes, as well. Pyelonephritis in dogs usually happens when there is a disruption in the muscles of the urinary tract, the blood flow to the kidneys, or the valves between the kidneys and the ureters. Most dogs show no symptoms of an upper urinary tract infection, though they may have signs of a lower urinary tract infection. If you suspect your dog has pyelonephritis or another urinary tract infection, consult your veterinarian so that they can form a proper diagnosis and prescribe treatment. Here is what you should know about the symptoms, causes, and treatments for pyelonephritis in dogs.

Symptoms Of Pyelonephritis In Dogs

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Most dogs will not show clinical symptoms of an upper urinary tract infection such as pyelonephritis, though they commonly show signs of a lower urinary tract infection. This is because pyelonephritis is most often caused by a lower urinary tract infection that has migrated upward. If you see the following symptoms of a urinary tract infection, seek veterinary attention.

  • Excessive drinking or urinating
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Pain or straining while urinating
  • Bloody or foul-smelling urine
  • Having accidents in the house, even if house trained
  • Abdominal or back pain
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever

Causes Of Pyelonephritis In Dogs

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The most common causes of pyelonephritis in dogs are E. Coli or Staph infections that have migrated from the lower urinary tract upwards. Other bacteria may also be responsible for the infection. Occasionally, fungal infections may cause pyelonephritis. Sometimes kidney stones may be another cause of the condition. It is rare for pyelonephritis to be caused by a bloodstream infection.

Although dogs of any age or breed may develop pyelonephritis, lower urinary tract infections are more common in female dogs than males due to their anatomy. This makes upper urinary tract infections like pyelonephritis more common in females, as well.

There are a few disorders that may make pyelonephritis more likely to develop. Ectopic ureters is a condition where the ureters don’t properly connect to the bladder. Vesicoureteral reflux happens when the urine flows back from the bladder into the ureters. Renal dysplasia is an abnormality in the kidneys from birth. Other things that may increase the risk of pyelonephritis in dogs include the following.

Treatments For Pyelonephritis In Dogs

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Treatment for pyelonephritis in dogs generally includes antibiotics to fight the bacterial infection. Usually these are prescribed for four to six weeks. In cases where pyelonephritis is causing septicemia or dogs are showing signs of kidney failure, hospitalization may be necessary. Dogs who have kidney disease may require special dietary changes as part of ongoing treatment. Sometimes intravenous fluids may be provided to dogs that are dehydrated.

The underlying causes of pyelonephritis will be treated, as well. If there is a blockage, especially one caused by stones, surgery may be required. It is important to get to your veterinarian if you see the signs of a urinary tract infection. Pyelonephritis can be a sign of a blockage or another serious issue that could become life-threatening if it goes untreated.

Has your dog ever had pyelonephritis? How was it treated? Let us know in the comments below!