Few things are more alarming than seeing blood in your pet's urine. Even though the causes of bleeding are usually easy to treat, fast action is essential. "The tissues of the urinary tract are very fragile, and any changes in your pet's health can cause bleeding," says Beverly J. Scott, D.V.M., a veterinarian in private practice in Gilbert, Arizona.
Urinary tract infections are the most common cause of blood in the urine. The infection may be in the kidneys, bladder, or urethra (the tube through which urine flows). Dogs and cats with urinary tract infections will usually urinate much more often than usual, and they may have fevers as well.
In male dogs (but usually not cats), blood in the urine may mean that the prostate gland, which produces semen, has become infected. Dogs with an infected prostate gland typically have a swollen penis and testicles, says Paul Gigliotti, D.V.M., a veterinarian in private practice in Mayfield Village, Ohio.
In female dogs and cats, blood may be a sign of a uterine infection, which typically occurs a month or two after a heat cycle or soon after giving birth. The blood comes from the vagina rather than through the urethra, but you are most likely to see it when they urinate.
Sharp little stones will occasionally form in the urinary tract, scraping the urethra and causing bleeding. "When the stones are tiny, like bits of gravel, some pets pass them without pain, but you may notice bloody urine," says Dr. Gigliotti.
Pets that have gotten into harmful substances such as rat poison will sometimes have bloody urine. (Other signs of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, or restlessness.) In addition, a bite from an infected tick can cause an infection called babesiosis, which destroys red blood cells. The body gets rid of the damaged blood cells by filtering them through the kidneys, which turns the urine red or brown.
Injuries can also cause urine to change color. Pets that have taken a hard fall or been hit by a car, for example, may look fine, but blood in the urine is a telltale sign that they have had internal injuries.
See Your Vet If...
- The urine is red
- Your pet is urinating more than usual
- Your female dog or cat has recently had a heat cycle or has given birth
- The penis or testicles are swollen
- Your pet's tail is limp
- A discharge from the anus, penis, or vagina has lasted two days or more
- Your pet is constantly licking his back end
- The vagina or anal area is red and swollen
- There is a growth on the anus or genitals
- Urine is dribbling while your pet sleeps
- There has been a change in your pet's urinating habits, or he is unable to urinate
- There is blood in the urine
- He's lost fur on the top or base of the tail
- The tail is greasy or infected, or it is getting thicker
- The anal opening stays open
- Your pet has been scooting for two days or more
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