Every pet owner knows, cleaning up litter is one of the most routine tasks in taking care of their pet.
One wakes up early in the morning to walk or clean the litter box and again several times during the day. Due to this repetitive behaviour, this routine eventually becomes muscle memory.
As simple as this task may be, it is very important to recognize their urination pattern and changes; as blockages and infections can occur. Between both dogs and cats, cats are usually the ones with urine infections and blockages, especially male cats since their urethra are more narrow. As such, this blog will focus mainly on cats.
When blockages or infections occur, the symptoms for both cases are pretty similar. The pet will squat and seemingly try to “push” urine out causing the muscles in the hind area and abdomen to contract, yet nothing comes out. One may also notice that their pet has an increase in urination frequency. This occurs because every time the pet tries to urinate, they do not fully empty their bladder causing them to try again and again. Blood can also be seen in the urine, which is caused by the infection itself or by crystals rubbing against the urethra. Pets may suddenly act aggressively since they will be in pain from being unable to urinate as efficiently as they want. The abdomen area might increase in size and will be sensitive to the touch due to the slight enlargement of the bladder. If any of these symptoms are observed, it is crucial to bring your pet to an animal hospital to prevent urine back flowing into the bladder; which can lead to necrosis (death of cells).
When this situation occurs, the majority of the time it is due to 3 possible reasons: stone in the bladder, the formation of crystals or a urine infection. To diagnosis, whether your pet is not urinating due to an infection or blockage, most animal hospital will perform the following medical procedures: radiograph and send a urine sample to the lab. By performing a radiograph of the abdomen of the pet, it can show whether or not the pet has stones in the bladder. Sending a urine sample to a laboratory will show both if crystals or infection are present. Results will usually take about a day or two to arrive. Once the issue is correctly diagnosed, then treatment can be done specifically to the problem that has arisen.
Out of the 3 possible reasons, a urine infection will be the easiest to treat. Medication will be prescribed to counter the specific bacteria and antibiotics will be given as well. After around 7 to 10 days, the urine infection should clear up and if not, then stronger medication might be given. If the diagnosis is stones in the bladder, then surgery is needed to remove the stones. The surgery itself will be done in a day but the recovery time will also be around 10 days after the surgery.
Medication will be prescribed to reduce the pain from the surgery and to shorten the recovery period. If the diagnosis is crystals in the urine, a minor medical procedure will be done to unblock the urethra. Then your pet will need to be given a catheter in the urethra over a small period of time to help prevent the blockage again. During this period, your pet will be hospitalized at the hospital and monitor to make sure that it is not blocked again. Medication and special diets will need to be given to assist the prevention of blockage as well. Once your pet shows signs that it is now unblocked for a couple of days, the pet can go home but will need to be on a special diet for life in order to prevent this from recurring.
Urinary blockages are a major hassle to deal with as they have a tendency to come back once it has happened once. As such, it is important to provide the necessary measures to prevent this situation from occurring at all. The diet that the pet consumes plays a large role in preventing blockages from happening. Crystals are usually formed when the pet has an abundance of nutrients, such as calcium, phosphorous, etc. in their systems. Due to the excess amount of nutrients, the pet can no longer regulate and expel them and thus crystals are formed. To prevent your pet from having the abundance of nutrients, it is important to provide them with a diet that may contain less calcium and phosphorous. This can be found on the nutritional label and also a label “s/o index” on the bag as well.
This indication on the bag states that the food contains fewer nutrients and combats urinary blockages. Stress can also be a reason why infections and blockages occur. Stress can cause a change in the pH balance in cats and thus make them have incorrect acidic and alkaline levels within their system. The incorrect balance of acidic and alkaline levels will then results in an excess of calcium or phosphorus in their system, thus causing urinary blockages.
Urine trouble is not something to take lightly, as it can cause a lot of pain to the pet and has a tendency to recur over time. Not only that, the majority of male cats are infected by this condition due to them having a genetically narrower urethra. As such, it is important to recognize the symptoms and act as accordingly and to provide the preventative diet and behaviour to prevent urinary blockages and infections from happening at all.