How do you know if there is a urinary tract disease?
You may recall that last week’s ‘Pet Corner’ stated that the urinary tract is composed of the kidneys, the ureters (tubes from the kidneys to the bladder), the bladder and the urethra (tube from the bladder, via the penis/vagina, to the outside). Well, any urinary system disease could hit any one of these components (or more than one) at the same time.
Generally speaking, most urinary tract disorders are associated with some disturbance in the normal pattern of urinating. In other words, you can look at the way the animal is voiding urine, whether it is urinating often, whether it is straining, whether the urine is coming out in drops, whether there is blood in the urine or if the urine is cloudy (not clear).
Very often, there might be other associated symptoms, for example, the animal might be drinking a lot of water or having a fever or there is a swelling of the abdomen, and so on. Let’s look at the various symptoms, which could give us a hint as to which organ within the urinary system is ailing.
You should suspect that your dog may be suffering from a kidney ailment, if he appears to drink and urinate a lot more than usual; if he has a fever; pain in the lumbar region (as exhibited by a hunched back or a reaction to the touch); or he seems to move with a stiff, arched gait; if he passes bloody urine; and if he shows signs of uremic poisoning (vomiting, breath smelling of urine, abrasions in mouth, lethargy, emaciation, loss of appetite, etc).
The signs that suggest involvement of the bladder, urethra (or prostate) are obvious pain during urination; straining and dribbling; sudden urges to void; voiding in small amounts; inability to empty the bladder completely; passing a weak, splattery stream; pain and swelling in the lower abdomen; loss of control; and the passage of cloudy or bloody urine.
Due to overlapping symptoms and the fact that more than one organ may be involved at the same time, it is difficult to make an exact diagnosis on the bases of symptoms alone.
In the diagnosis of urinary tract disease, the laboratory can be of considerable help. Routine tests could include (i) an urinalysis, which tells your veterinarian whether your dog has a urinary tract infection, and (ii) blood chemistry, which can provide information about the function of the kidneys.
Additional studies are sometimes indicated. These include urine cultures and x-ray examinations of the abdomen. So very often an X-ray of the abdomen reveals that there are stones in the bladder. I have had cases where such stones were as big as an awara seed. The intravenous pyelogram is an X-ray examination in which a dye is injected into the blood circulation system. The dye is then excreted by the kidneys and outlines much of the urinary tract. This is not something that we vets carry out routinely, but it can be done.
Cystoscopy is an examination of the interior of the bladder using a lighted instrument. This is an intervention that is easily done in the male dog; but no vet has, to my knowledge, invested in such an instrument. Other selective studies may be performed when indicated. Such undertakings include surgical exploration and/or biopsy.
We will continue with this topic next week.
Please implement disease preventative measures (vaccinations, routine dewormings, monthly anti-heartworm medication, etc) and adopt-a-pet from the GSPCA’s Animal Clinic and Shelter at Robb Street and Orange Walk, if you have the wherewithal to care well for the animals. Do not stray your unwanted pets, take them to the GSPCA’s Clinic and Shelter instead. If you do not wish your pet to have puppies or kittens, you may exploit the GSPCA’s free spay and neutering programme. If you see anyone being cruel to an animal, or if you need any technical information, please get in touch with the Clinic and Shelter by calling 226-4237.