What Foods Should a Dog with a UTI Avoid?
Posted by Volhard Dog Nutrition on Feb 8th 2022
Does your dog ask you to go outside more frequently? Is he attempting to relieve himself more often than usual? Chances are, your dog might be suffering from a urinary tract infection or UTI. It can be hard to tell if your dog is in pain because he may not show any signs at all. However, if you see bloody, cloudy, or their urine has a strong smell, your 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.
In today's article, we will focus our attention on UTIs in dogs, their causes and symptoms, and the ways we can approach UTIs in dogs with a proper diet. Unfortunately, certain everyday dog foods can exacerbate an existent UTI, which is why putting together a list of foods to avoid for dogs with UTIs will be helpful for all dog parents!
What Is a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)?
Normal dog urine is on the slightly acidic side of neutral and should have a pH of around 6.0-7.0. This is because dogs 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. Also, many over-the-counter diets are too high in magnesium, ammonium, and phosphate, which makes up the common struvite crystal.
If your dog is on a high carb or starchy food, the urine pH will be higher, predisposing 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, allowing 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 the urethra to cause an infection in the bladder. 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.
What Are the Two Urinary Tract Infection Types?
Canine UTIs are separated into two categories, each with its own degree of severity and cure:
- Uncomplicated Bacterial Urinary Tract Infections: Uncomplicated UTIs are a common sight amongst the canine population and do not require more than a visit to the veterinarian and specific diet changes for treatment.
- Persistent or Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections: A less frequent form of the disease, a recurrent UTI primarily affects dogs with underlying medical conditions. Other invading microorganisms, such as Enterococcus spp. and Pseudomonas spp., hide behind this condition. Over time, the bacteria become equipped well enough to resist antibiotics and bypass the immune system's defense mechanisms. If you believe that your dog is suffering from a recurrent UTI, don't hesitate to take him to the veterinarian.
Symptoms of a UTI in Your Dog
The symptoms associated with a canine UTI depend on the area of the infection. If the UTI is localized in the lower urinary tract, your dog will manifest symptoms such as:
- Difficulty urinating;
- More attempts to urinate than usual;
- Urine dribbling;
- A break in house-training;
- Persistent licking around the urinary tract opening;
- Discolored and bloody urine.
If the UTI develops in the upper urinary tract, your dog's symptoms will become more severe, in the shape of:
- Loss of appetite;
- Sudden loss in weight;
- Abdomen soreness.
How to Approach Urinary Tract Infections in Dogs
Now that we have a better understanding of how UTIs develop and manifest themselves, let's discuss the fitting approach to treating the infection, both medically and nutritionally:
#1: Antibiotics For UTIs In Dogs
Antibiotics are the standard treatment for UTIs. The problem is that antibiotics don't just kill the bacteria causing the UTI; they also destroy the healthy bacteria in your dog's gut. Remember that many holistic vets say that urinary tract problems in dogs are actually inflammation, not an infection. So using antibiotics could damage your dog's microbiome without effectively treating the real cause of your dog's UTI. Antibiotic resistance is also a concern. The more your dog takes antibiotics, the less effective they are. So save them for when they're truly necessary and avoid antimicrobial resistance that's becoming a problem for all of us!
#2: Avoid Unhealthy Carbohydrates
It's best to avoid feeding your dog starchy carbohydrates like beans, potatoes, rice, corn, or peas. These unhealthy carbs increase inflammation in your dog's body. Inflammation can increase the risk of UTIs. Starch is also a food source for harmful bacteria and yeasts, helping them overgrow to crowd out the good bacteria. One of the biggest sources of unhealthy carbohydrates for dogs is kibble. In fact, processed food can contain 30 to 60% starch. So if you feed your dog kibble, that means that more than half his diet could be food that's not good for him.
#3: Feed A Hydrated Natural Diet
Start with a whole-food, raw-meat-based diet. Natural diets with raw proteins give your dog a natural source of the vitamins and minerals he needs to boost his immune system. And they don't include undesirable starchy carbohydrates that promote inflammation and bacterial growth.
#4: Give Antioxidants
Antioxidant-rich foods help boost your dog's immune system. This means she'll be better able to fend off infections throughout his body, including the urinary tract. They also help reduce inflammation, which, as you now know, is a major cause of UTIs. Fruits and vegetables are full of antioxidants.
#5: Add Prebiotics and Probiotics
Probiotics encourage the growth of healthy bacteria, which help crowd out harmful bacteria. They also produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that boost your dog's overall health. This can help prevent bacteria growth and reduce the risk of UTIs caused by infections.
You can facilitate the effects of the medication by removing certain foods that cause UTIs in dogs, such as:
- Raw carrots;
- Dairy products.
#2: Adjust Your Dog's Water Intake
The next step in your dog's UTI treatment plan is adjusting your dog's water intake. A significant factor in preventing UTIs from recurring is proper hydration. Of course, proper hydration is not about refilling your dog's water bowl more often; it's about restructuring his whole diet in order to increase general hydration levels. Dry food is completely inefficient in warding off UTIs; a diet riddled with cereals promotes increased alkalinity in the dog's urine and creates the optimal setting for urine crystals to develop. For that reason, your dog's immune system will benefit tremendously from switching to a hydrated diet, such as the Volhard NDF2.
NDF2 allows the dog parent to add enough protein and water to their canine's diet in order to ensure proper, healthy growth and adequate nutrient intake. In addition, NDF2 is rich in all the vitamins and minerals that dry food loses when processed, so you can rest assured that your dog's immune system will be equipped with all the tools necessary to fight off the UTI and prevent it from reoccurring.
Feeding the Natural Diet Foundation 2, NDF2
How to Enhance Your Dog's Diet against UTIs
If you want your dog's anti-UTI diet to reach even higher levels of effectiveness, you can add the following ingredients to your dog's food bowl:
A Thanksgiving favorite, cranberries have impressive antiseptic properties that will impede the bacteria from causing infections in the urinary tract. However, make sure that you add only appropriate quantities of cranberries to your dog's food bowl, as too many cranberries will give rise to digestive upsets and calcium oxalate stones in the bladder.
#2: Juniper Berries
Another healthful member of the berry family, juniper berries help treat both uncomplicated and persistent UTIs in dogs. First, juniper berries are rich in terpinen-4-ol, an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agent that stimulates renal activity and assists kidneys in filtering out impurities at a faster rate. Second, juniper berries function as a diuretic, thus improving urine flow and helping your dog flush out the invading bacteria. Restrict your dog's juniper berry intake to ½ tablespoon of juniper berry tea per day for small dogs and ⅓ cup of juniper berry tea per day for dogs over 50 pounds for the purpose of avoiding any digestive distress.
#3: Uva Ursi
Uva Ursi (or the bearberry, as it's commonly called) is a powerful astringent (i.e., compound that helps shrink body tissues) with excellent antibacterial properties. Holistic medicine employs Uva Ursi as a means to fight the E. coli bacteria and reduce its levels in the urine. Adding Uva Ursi supplements to your dog's diet can gradually stop bleeding, reduce inflammation, and relieve the pain associated with UTIs. However, be sure to limit your dog's intake of Uva Ursi supplements, as overconsumption can irritate your dog's kidneys over time.
#4: Marshmallow Root
The fourth and final natural remedy for your dog's UTI is the marshmallow root. This perennial plant fights against inflammation and soothes irritation in the urinary tract. As a result, your dog's immune system will receive the boost it needs to attack the E. coli bacteria and hinder its growth. Akin to juniper berries, marshmallow root is a diuretic, thus helping your dog flush out bacteria. You can purchase marshmallow root powder and add ½ teaspoon per pound of your dog's food.
A Parting Reminder
Urinary tract infections can easily be treated with the proper medical help, proactive thinking and dietary changes. We hope that today's blog has helped you learn all about UTIs in dogs and the appropriate ways to treat them. For more advice on dog nutrition, health, and training, make sure that you contact us or check out our blog!