Dogs can be affected by many different types of lower urinary tract problems. Fortunately, there are many home natural remedies to treat your dog’s UTI.
First, it’s important to know when your dog may have a UTI and what are dog UTI signs you want to be monitoring for before we start using natural home remedies for an infection.
What are common dog UTI signs and symptoms?
It can be hard to tell if your dog is in pain, because they may not show any signs at all. However, if you’re seeing bloody, cloudy or their urine has a strong smell, you dog may have a UTI.
You may also notice straining or crying during urination, accidents in the house, needing to urinate more frequently, increased water consumption, or licking around their back end excessively after urinating, you’ll need to get them checked out by your veterinarian to rule out a UTI.
Also, if you have a dog that’s all of a sudden not house-broken, especially puppies, it’s important to get them checked out for a bacterial UTI.
An important distinction is UTI doesn’t always mean an infection. It can mean urinary tract inflammation versus urinary tract infection.
There are many causes of lower urinary tract problems that can lead to the symptoms mentioned. If you notice a change in your dogs urinary habits, make sure to get them checked out.
Some of the other causes of dog UTI signs include:
- Bladder inflammation or infection
- Crystals or sludge in the bladder or urethra
- Prostate disease
- Congenital abnormalities like inverted vulvas
- Cancers like transitional cell carcinoma
This is why it’s so important to get your pet checked out by your veterinarian if you’re noticing any of the mentioned dog UTI symptoms.
What causes urinary tract infections?
Normal dog and cat urine is on the slightly acidic side of neutral and should have a pH of around 6.0-7.0. This is because dogs and cats are carnivores and should be eating a diet higher in protein or meat.
However, when the pH of the urine gets too high or too low, this is when crystals and even bladder stones, or uroliths, can form. This happens commonly due to inappropriate diets, like ultra-processed kibble. Kibble is higher in carbs and vegetable matter.
Herbivores, like goats, horses, and cows, naturally have a higher, or more alkaline urine pH, than a carnivore would due to their plant diet.
Also, many over-the-counter diets are too high in magnesium, ammonium, and phosphate which is what makes up the common struvite crystal.
If your dog is on a high carb or starchy food, the pH of the urine will be higher which will predispose them to struvite crystals, stones, and even bacterial infections.But if your dog’s pH is too low, calcium oxalate crystals and stones can form.
Ideally, we want your dog’s pH to be just below neutral at 6.0-7.0. This can usually be achieved by being on a species-appropriate diet that is higher in protein due to real meat that is more biologically available and low in starches.
Other causes of UTIs can be conformational defects and drug-related immunosuppression.
Urinary tract infections also tend to be more common in older, female dogs. This is because females have wider urethras than males which can allow bacteria to ascend the urethra to the bladder.
Also, some female puppies can have an inverted vulva, which allows urine to pool in the folds. This conformational issue makes it easier for bacteria to ascend up the urethra to cause an infection in the bladder.
If you have a puppy that has this conformational issue, make sure to go through a heat cycle before spaying them if possible. The hormones will cause the vulva to swell during the heat cycle and can help resolve the problem.
Otherwise, work with a holistic veterinarian to figure out if herbs and nutrition can help reduce inflammation and strengthen the urinary tract to prevent infections from happening. It can be done – we’ve done it personally with our own patients. And make sure to use non-scented baby wipes in the folds to keep the area dry and clean.
Also, dog UTI infections are more common if there are concurrent conditions like diabetes that lower your dog’s immunity, put sugar into the urine that feeds bacteria, or your dog is on immunosuppressive drugs like steroids.
How do you diagnose a dog UTI infection?
Once again if you’re noticing any of the previously mentioned symptoms in your dog, it’s important to take them to the veterinarian for a check-up.
Your vet will do a physical examination to make sure there are no congenital problems that are predisposing them to urine pooling or other factors that could be leading to an infection.
Firstly, they need to perform a urinalysis to check the urine for infection.
The urinalysis will be able to tell the veterinarian a lot of information about what’s going on in your dog’s urine to rule in or out a urinary tract infection or if it’s just inflammation or something else going on. The urinalysis will test for:
- Urine specific gravity or USG (this is the concentration of your dog’s urine)
- pH (this is important to know to avoid crystal/bladder stone formation and bacterial infections – can be affected by certain diets)
- Ketones (can help diagnose diabetes)
- Bilirubin (break down product of blood)
- Glucose (sugar that if present can diagnose diabetes)
- Blood (white and red blood cells that will show infection and/or inflammation)
If the urinalysis shows an infection, your veterinarian should recommend running a urine culture. This will help identify what type of bacteria is present and which antibiotic will work against it.
You don’t want to put your pet on an antibiotic for a presumed UTI but you don’t even know if there is a true infection or if it’s just inflammation.
Never use an antibiotic without at least a urinalysis!
Antibiotics have a time and a place, but if we’re using them inappropriately, they will affect your pet’s gut health and can cause other health issues down the road by upsetting your dog’s important microbiome.
Also, misusing antibiotics has led to a massive problem today with antibiotic resistance. I’ve personally seen pets that have never had antibiotics in their life come back on a culture with a resistant strain of bacteria. It’s very important to not skip a culture if at all possible, even though they are more expensive.
Other tests your veterinarian may recommend include an ultrasound, bloodwork, or a radiograph which will help rule out bladder stones, other abnormalities, and bladder cancers.
Natural home remedies for dog UTI
Now that you’ve hopefully identified why your dog is having symptoms, there are numerous natural home remedies for dog UTIs that you can use to help your dog feel better but also help prevent UTIs in the future.
But first, what about the prescription diets that are recommended for life for urinary crystals and stones?
Most of these diets are high in carbs and starches which was the original problem for the pH being off. Remember, diets that are too high in carbohydrates or starches will cause the pH to be too alkaline that can lead to struvite crystals and/or stones.
Another issue with most of these diets is that the proteins are feed-grade, not food-grade. This means that the meats are the unusable meats from the human side and are often diseased and poor quality that are being rendered into pet food.
So why do they help lower the pH of the urine?
The reason these pet foods help reduce the urine pH is the addition of an amino acid dl-methionine. This is an essential amino acid that helps chelate heavy metals and regulates the formation of ammonia. When it’s metabolized by the body, sulfuric acid is formed that lowers or acidifies the urine. Therefore when your dog’s urine is too high, this can be helpful, which is why it’s in prescription foods.
This also shows why it’s important to know the pH of your dog’s urine. If the pH is already too low, you can make things worse by adding this into their diet or by using the wrong prescription food.
But here’s a helpful trick you can do with your dogs at home.
Get urine pH strips from your vet clinic or human pharmacy, and check your dog’s urine first thing in the morning, prior to feeding them. Then keep a journal and you’ll be able to get a good idea of where your dog’s pH is. Then you can make adjustments to their diet and supplements as needed.
You can achieve the same results, but even better, by using methionine added into the food if your dog’s pH is consistently too high. You’ll of course want to be using a whole-food, species-appropriate diet also to make sure we’re not introducing more artificial ingredients that are inflammatory to the body. Also, ask your veterinarian for appropriate dosages for methionine if you’re going to add this to your dog’s diet.
Learn more about how to optimize your pet’s food by clicking here.
Some of the other common natural remedies that you can use to support bladder health in dogs include D-mannose, N-acetyl-glucosamine, corn silk, marshmallow root, golden rod, and cranberry extract.
Let’s start with D-mannose and cranberries.
Why is D-mannose so popular as a natural remedy for dog UTI infections?
You’ve probably heard that cranberry juice helps UTIs, but why is that?
The main effective component for UTIs of cranberry juice is D-mannose. This is a non-metabolizable sugar that binds to the bacteria in the bladder and helps remove it from the bladder before it can cause an infection and problems. It works especially on E.coli which are a common bacteria that causes dog bacterial UTIs.
D-mannose is an easy-to-use and effective natural home remedy for your dog’s UTI. It will also help prevent it from recurring in the future once you ensure the diet is appropriate.
So what about cranberry juice?
Here’s the problem with giving cranberry juice to your dog, it’s high in sugar. You can also achieve higher concentrations of D-mannose by giving it as a supplement by itself.
However, using cranberries as a food supplement has additional benefits to the body. Cranberries are higher in antioxidants. Anthocyanins are what give cranberries their bright red pigment.
Numerous studies have shown in people that this food can help relieve pain and fight E. coli UTI infections naturally.
So you can feel comfortable using one or the other, but if you want a stronger faster effect for a bacterial UTI then try the more concentrated D-mannose supplement and use those cranberries for an added topper in the food. There are many supplements that combine D-mannose with some of the following natural remedies. If you have questions about dosing, make sure to ask your veterinarian for what would be best.
One of my favorite supplements is Standard Process Cranberry Complex. This supplement uses whole food sources to provide the extra nutrients your dog needs during times of stress and when the bladder lining is inflamed. Learn more about this supplement and others for home remedies for dog UTIs by clicking here.
The next natural home remedy for a dog’s UTI is N-acetyl-glucosamine.
You may have heard of glucosamine that is commonly used to support a dog’s joint health. However, there are many other ways to use this amazing substance for more than just joint support.
There are three common types of glucosamine:
- Glucosamine sulfate is the most common type found in supplements. The body needs this form to produce cartilage.
- Glucosamine hydrochloride is more concentrated than glucosamine sulfate but is less effective for joint support.
- N-Acetyl-Glucosamine (NAG) is a derivative of glucose and comes from the outer shell of crustaceans. This form is the precursor to hyaluronic acid which is a necessary part of the cushioning synovial fluid in joints. Also, NAG is found to target mucous membranes like the GI tract and the bladder, which can help protect it from irritations like urinary crystals.
The way this remedy works is through the glycoprotein layer in the bladder. In the bladder mucosal lining, the glycoprotein layer has a high concentration of NAG that turnover every 3-4 days. Due to the high turnover rate, it’s important to ensure the body has enough NAG to repair the mucosal lining to keep it strong against bacterial invasions.
Many urinary supplements contain this nutraceutical to help reduce inflammation and strengthen the bladder lining. Make sure to check here for some of our supplements that contain this amazing product.
Along with cranberry and NAG, corn silk can be used to help your dogs as a natural home remedy for dog UTI infections.
Corn silk is the silky part of the corn plant. Corn silk is a natural diuretic, which means that it helps naturally eliminate excess water from the body. Increasing water elimination helps the body eliminate bacterial infections.
Also, corn silk has natural polysaccharides to help ease pain and inflammation, which are common symptoms and side effects of a dog with a UTI infection.
An easy way to utilize this plant is to use supplements that have corn silk in them, or you can steep 2 tsp of the corn silk part of the plant in boiling water for 10-15 minutes. Once the tea has cooled, then add 1/8 – 1/2 cup of the tea water (remove the corn silk) to your dog’s food per day to help with the pain an inflammation naturally.
Another natural home remedy for a dog bladder infection is Althaea officinalis or marshmallow root.
How does this incredible plant help your dog’s UTI?
Like corn silk, marshmallow root has a combination of polysaccharides that form a mucilage when exposed to moisture. This mucilage has natural anti-inflammatory effects and can also be used in cases of gastritis, GI upset along with bladder infections to help soothe inflamed mucous membranes.
There are a couple easy ways to introduce marshmallow root into your dog’s diet:
- Use marshmallow root tincture or glycerite: 0.5 to 1.5 ml per 20 lbs of body weight, 2-3 times per day
- Use pet supplements that have marshmallow root powder in them
- Infused tea: ½ cup per 20 lbs of weight, 2-3 times a day (use 10 to 30g herb per cup of tea)
- Dried herb: 25 to 150 mg per lb of food, sprinkled on meals
If you’re using high dosages of marshmallow root, it can inhibit absorption of drugs so make sure to give at least 1 hour away from medications.
And the final natural home remedy for dog UTI infections is Solidago virgaurea or goldenrod.
Goldenrod is another top home natural remedy for a dog’s UTI.
It is known for numerous beneficial properties that include:
- Diuretic properties
This plant is popular due to its antimicrobial properties. Many pet parents will use this plant if their dog has a urinary tract infection to help avoid using antibiotics.
This plant pairs well with the essential oil Juniper Berry, which also has diuretic properties along with increasing circulation to the lower urinary tract to naturally help UTIs. If using Juniper Berry, start with 1 drop diluted in 10 oz carrier oil like jojoba or sweet almond oil and apply topically to the area of your pet’s kidneys (just behind their last rib).
An easy way to add this into your dog’s diet is to simply crush a fresh leaf from the goldenrod plant, boil it in water, allow the concoction to cool, and pour it into your dog’s food. You can also use organic goldenrod tea if you don’t have any of this plant in your garden to use.
Another great plant for an additional bonus is Goldenseal, which has strong antibacterial properties due to its high berberine content. Look for products that combine these all together for the best effect.
The above home remedies for dog UTI are just a few of the ways you can use natural remedies to help heal your dog’s UTI at home.
Other easy ways to naturally help prevent recurring dog UTI infections include:
- Providing lots of freshwater, preferably filtered, to keep the urine diluted
- Feed fresh, less-processed food – Learn more about what may be in your pet’s food here.
- Monitor your dog’s urine pH and adjust as needed with diet and supplements
- Make sure your dog gets regular potty breaks to empty its bladder
- Al-Snafi AE. The pharmaceutical importance of Althaea officinalis and Althaea rosea. International Journal of PharmaTech Research. 2013;5(3):1378-85.
- Herbs for Pets by M.L. Wulff-Tilford and G.L. Tilford
- Saeed, S. Herbal remedies for urinary tract infection. International Journal of Biology and Biotechnology (Pakistan). ISSN : 1810-2719
- Cenovese, Carlo, et al. Effects of a new combination of plant extracts plus d-mannose for the management of uncomplicated recurrent urinary tract infections. National Library of Medicine. DOI: 10.1080/1120009X.2017.1393587
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