Urinary tract infections (UTIs) can be a real pain – literally! If you’ve ever had one, you’ll know how uncomfortable they can be. So you want to help your dog as fast as you can. Read on to learn about home remedies for dog UTIs that can help your dog feel better.
What Are UTIs In Dogs?
UTI stands for urinary tract infection. Infections stem from bacteria in your dog’s urinary tract that can create painful or uncomfortable symptoms. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, E.coli is the most common pathogen in UTIs. Both male and female dogs can get UTIs, but females are more prone to them.
But “infection” isn’t always the right word for UTIs… because UTIs can also be due to urinary tract inflammation … not a bacterial infection. So urinary tract inflammation is sometimes a more accurate description.
Dr Dee Blanco DVM explains
“Unfortunately, our nomenclature has not been updated to include what we’ve learned about bladder inflammation. Typically, most people and even some vets use the term bladder infection to describe the syndrome where dogs show acute and frequent straining to urinate, excessive licking of the vulva or penis, pain or extreme discomfort, partial or complete blockage of the urethra, with or without blood. More accurately, these situations should be called bladder inflammation.”
In case your dog has a UTI now, here are some home remedies for dog UTIs you can use right away to help your dog feel better soon. Keep reading after the remedies if you’d like more information about UTIs in dogs … including how to prevent them and what symptoms to look out for.
Home Remedies For UTIs In Dogs
Cranberries contain a sugar called D-mannose which protects the urinary tract by making it hard for E coli (the bacteria usually responsible for causing UTIs) to attach to it. A 2014 study by Porru et al in Italy found D-mannose to be a safe and effective treatment for repeat UTI infections in women … and even more effective than antibiotic treatments (1, 2))
Research at the University of the Aegean also found cranberries were effective in treating as well as preventing UTIs (3)
However, juices are full of sugar, so you don’t want to give your dog cranberry juice. Stick to actual cranberries (freeze-dried is a convenient option) or cranberry or D-mannose supplements. Some cranberry supplements contain added D-mannose.
You can give your dog a cranberry supplement made for dogs. If you choose a supplement made for humans, assume the dose is for a 150 lb person and adjust the dose to your dog’s body weight.
2. Marshmallow Root
This gentle herb is naturally soothing to irritated and inflamed tissue (4). This makes it a great home remedy for dog UTIs.
You can get marshmallow root in powder form and sprinkle half a teaspoon for each pound of food you give your dog.
3. Couch Grass
This is a common weed that is a diuretic with anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. Diuretics prompt the kidneys to make more urine to help flush out the system (5)
To give your dog couch grass, prepare a tea by simmering a teaspoon of dried root in a cup of water for about 20 minutes. You can give 1/2 teaspoon per 20 pounds of body weight twice daily, by directly putting it in the mouth with a dropper or adding it to your dog’s water.
4. Parsley Leaf
This herb is also a diuretic (6). The easiest way to give it to your dog is to juice parsley leaf using a juicer and then give 1 teaspoon per 20 pounds of body weight. It’s better to give it on an empty stomach.
Horsetail is an ancient herbal remedy that naturally fights bacteria (7). This one is best used in combination with a soothing herb like marshmallow root. It shouldn’t be used for too long since it can cause irritation.
Prepare a decoction by simmering the dried herb with a half teaspoon of sugar and water until the water turns dark green. Cool and strain the liquid before giving your dog 1 tablespoon for every 20 pounds of body weight.
These are some natural options that can work well for UTIs. But what about antibiotics?
Do Antibiotics Always Work For UTIs?
Antibiotics are a common treatment for UTIs. Your vet will choose the right antibiotic based on the bacteria she finds in your dog’s urinalysis. But they may not always be effective. In 2015, University of Copenhagen researchers reviewed 14 different studies of antibiotic treatments for UTIs for dogs and cats. They found very limited evidence to support use of antibiotics for UTIs, and concluded: ” …there is little published evidence relating to antibiotic treatment of UTIs in dogs and cats.” (8)
That may be because, as mentioned earlier, some UTIs stem from inflammation and not a bacterial infection.
Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria
The Merck Veterinary Manual also suggests other reasons for treatment failure, including inappropriate choice of drug, incorrect dose or duration of treatment … or antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
In fact, because of antibiotic resistance, the Merck manual also says …
“Nonantimicrobial control of infection should be considered whenever feasible. Custom-made vaccines, cranberry juice/extract, probiotics and adherence/colonization inhibitors, and establishment of asymptomatic bacteriuria may help preserve the efficacy of antimicrobials.”Merck Veterinary Manual
There’s also been much written about how antibiotics damage the gut microbiome and thus can harm the immune system (9). So using other treatment options may be safest for your dog’s long-term health..
Can Diet Prevent Urinary Tract Infections in Dogs?
Your dog’s diet plays an important role in her health. Here are some tips for your dog’s diet to keep UTIs at bay.
Feed A Raw Diet
Feeding a carefully planned raw whole food diet ensures that your dog gets all the essential nutrients she needs to keep her immune system functioning the way it should. Another reason to avoid processed dog food in favor of a raw diet is that kibble is full of starchy carbohydrates. Starchy carbs include potatoes, grains, rice, and corn. Dogs don’t need starch in their diets, and they can promote inflammation of the digestive tract, which may increase the risk of UTIs for your dog.
Give Your Dog Antioxidants
Antioxidants help prevent cell damage from free radicals … damaged cells that try to repair themselves by stealing from other cells. Antioxidants prevent oxidative stress, reducing inflammation and boosting immunity. Ensuring your dog gets plenty of antioxidant-rich foods like blueberries and broccoli can help prevent UTIs and other bacterial infections
Include Prebiotics And Probiotics
Probiotics are the good bacteria that your dog needs in her gut to maintain healthy immune function and digestion. Prebiotics are the fibers that these good bacteria eat, which helps them stay healthy. In turn, your dog’s digestive tract stays healthy.
Good bacteria crowd out the harmful bacteria and may lower the chances of developing a UTI. The easiest and most effective way to give your dog probiotics is in a supplement form.
What Are Symptoms of UTI in Dogs?
When people have UTIs we usually know right away because of the painful symptoms. But it’s not as easy to tell your dog’s uncomfortable. Some signs of a UTI in dogs include:
- Licking the urinary tract opening
- Whining or discomfort during urination
- Bloody or cloudy urine
- Wanting to go outside more frequently due to the urge to urinate
- Accidents indoors
- Trying to pee again right after urinating
UTI Diagnosis In Dogs
If it’s obvious your dog has a UTI and you want to use home remedies, you may not need your vet’s help. But if you want to confirm it’s a UTI, your vet will need to test a urine sample from your dog.
- Make sure the container you use is clean
- Try to collect your sample from your dog’s first pee of the day
- Refrigerate the sample until you can get it to the vet
If you can’t manage it yourself, take your dog to the vet where they have different ways to get the sample from your dog.
The urinalysis will tell your vet whether your dog has a bacterial infection. If you’re going to use antibiotics, they’ll do a culture to find out which bacteria is causing the problem. You won’t need this information if you’re planning to use home remedies for your dog’s UTI.
So now, if you think your dog has a UTI, you have some information that’ll help you recognize the symptoms … as well as some home remedies that can help resolve this unpleasant condition.
1. Porru, D et al. Oral D-mannose in recurrent urinary tract infections in women: a pilot study. Journal of Clinical Urology. 2014 (7);3: 208-213
2. Duncan D. Alternative to antibiotics for managing asymptomatic and non-symptomatic bacteriuria in older persons: a review. Br J Community Nurs. 2019 Mar 2;24(3):116-119.
3. Vasileiou I, Katsargyris A, Theocharis S, Giaginis C. Current clinical status on the preventive effects of cranberry consumption against urinary tract infections. Nutr Res. 2013 Aug;33(8):595-607.
4. Nazeem Fahamiya et al. Unani perspective of Khatmi (Althaea officinalis). Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry 2016; 5(6): 357-360
5. C Hautman et al. Fluid extract of Agropyron repens for the treatment of urinary tract infections or irritable bladder. Zeitschrift fur Phytotherapie 2000 Vol 21 No 5.
6. Mashtar Saad B. The Effect Of Parsley In The Treatment of UTI in Iraqi Patients. International Journal of Medical Research & Health Sciences, 2018 Vol 7 Issue 8.
7. Sureshkumar, J., Amalraj, S., Murugan, R. et al. Chemical profiling and antioxidant activity of Equisetum ramosissimum Desf. stem extract, a potential traditional medicinal plant for urinary tract infections. Futur J Pharm Sci 7, 192 (2021).
8. Jessen, LR et al. Effect of antibiotic treatment in canine and feline urinary tract infections: A systematic review. The Veterinary Journal. 2015 (203);3:270-277.
9. Shane AL. Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues. Emerg Infect Dis. 2014;20(11):1961.