Technically called hematuria, bloody urine can indicate a serious life-threatening problem, therefore it’s not a situation that should be ignored. Prompt veterinary attention is key to ensure a good outcome for an ill or injured pet.
"This is part of why I recommend accompanying a dog when he goes outside to do his business and cleaning the cat's litter box frequently - you can't treat a problem if you don't know it exists and a problem like blood in the urine could easily be missed if you send your dog outside to do his business alone, or if you don't change the litter frequently," explained Dr. Michael Levine, DVM.
Causes of Hematuria
According to Dr. Levine, there are several common causes of this condition.
- Urinary Tract Infection (UTI): Infection can cause inflammation in the animal’s bladder and urinary tract and this can result in bleeding, leading to blood in the urine of a dog or other pet. Other symptoms of a UTI include frequent urination, painful urination (the animal often cries out during urination), straining, fever and licking of the genitals. The treatment for a pet’s UTI typically includes a course of oral antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication.
- Bladder or Kidney Infection: Symptoms of a bladder or kidney infection are often very similar to a UTI. The treatment is similar. Diagnosis is often achieved by performing an exam, blood work, sonogram and a urinalysis.
- Bladder Stones: Bladder stones, also known as uroliths, are relatively common in animals. There are several types of bladder stones – calcium oxalate and struvite stones are most common – and they occur as a result of diet, body chemistry and other factors. The stones can cause irritation to the bladder and urinary tract, leading to inflammation and bleeding. Diagnostic measures include an exam, x-rays and urinalysis. Treatment varies from prescribing special foods, anti-inflammatory and other medications and surgical removal.
- Uterine Infection: In unspayed female cats, dogs and other pets, there is always a possibility of infection affecting the uterus. This can result in blood in the urine, along with other symptoms of tender abdomen, decreased appetite, abdominal pain and fever. Diagnosis is typically achieved through an exam, blood work, and urinalysis, among other measures. Antibiotics are the most common treatment.
- Prostate Infection or Disease: In intact males, infection or disease involving the prostate can result in blood in the urine. Other common symptoms include testicular/genital swelling, pain during urination, fever, frequent urination and difficulty urinating/straining. Diagnosis typically includes an exam and urinalysis, and treatment varies depending on the precise cause at hand.
- Trauma: Trauma to the abdomen can lead to internal injuries and bleeding. If the kidneys, bladder or urinary tract are damaged, the dog, cat or other pet may have bloody urine. Treatment and diagnosis varies.
- Poisoning: Certain toxins, like warfarin, which is contained in rat and mouse poisons, causes internal bleeding and a lack of blood clotting. Frequent urination and urinating blood is among the constellation of symptoms that’s seen in a pet who has been poisoned. Other symptoms of toxicity include vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors, seizure, drooling, panting, lethargy and disoriented behavior. Treatment varies depending on the toxin ingested.
- Tick-Borne Illnesses: One symptom of tick-borne illness is hematuria or blood in the urine. Serious kidney damage can result from Lyme Disease and other tick-transmitted diseases and this is thought to lead to blood in the urine. Diagnosis and treatment is comprehensive, and varies from case to case. Long-term antibiotic and anti-inflammatory treatment is favored for treatment of Lyme Disease, though other measures may be necessary if serious kidney damage has resulted.
- Tumor Growth: Malignant and benign tumors can form in the kidneys, bladder and urinary tract. Bleeding can result from these growths. The diagnostic measures and treatment techniques are comprehensive for tumors and growths. Measures can include x-rays, explorative surgery, surgical tumor excision or radiation.
For more information on urinary tract infections in dogs, read "Does My Dog Have a Urinary Tract Infection? -- Signs of a UTI."
Pet owners who found this article helpful may also find a few other articles helpful, including Signs of an Infection in Pets and How to Tell if Your Dog is Sick.