The bladder empties out of the body through a small tube called the urethra. If the urethra becomes obstructed (blocked off), compressed, or inflamed, this is a life threatening medical emergency and must be attended to by a veterinarian immediately. If the bladder is blocked from releasing urine for too long, this can lead to kidney failure, which may also be fatal.

What are the signs of a urinary blockage?
– Straining to urinate (it may often look like your pet is struggling to have a bowel movement)
– Very small amounts of urine or no urine at all
– Bloody or cloudy urine
– Discomfort when urinating
If you see these signs, don’t wait – call your veterinarian immediately!

Causes and risk factors
– Most common in male cats, but dogs and female cats may also be affected
– Urinary crystals or stones
– Urinary tract infections
– Lesions, scar tissue, or tumors may also cause obstruction

How is an obstruction diagnosed by a veterinarian?
– Palpation of the abdomen (feeling for swelling of the bladder)
– Urine testing (screening for infection or crystals which may lead to obstruction)
– Blood testing (screening for organ function, especially of the kidneys and electrolytes)
– Radiographs of the abdomen (x-rays)
– Ultrasound

With a urinary obstruction, the blockage must be taken care of as soon as possible. Sedation is often required, and the treatment depends on the severity of the obstruction.

Treatments may include:
– Placement of a urinary catheter
– Surgical removal of stones if too large to pass through a catheter
– IV fluids to rehydrate and to normalize electrolyte levels
– Hospitalization is the best standard of care until the pet is stabilized and able to pass urine on their own
– Medications for pain management and relaxation of the urethra to help with urine flow

Lifetime Management
– Monitor closely for urine output
– Veterinary approved diet to decrease the chance of re-forming crystals and obstructing again
– Regular urine screening

Proactive measures
– Yearly screening urine testing – can help to detect crystals before they become large or numerous
– Urinary protective diets, especially for pets who have a history of urinary tract infections, urinary crystals, or a genetic predisposition

At Lake Road Animal Hospital, we want to help your pet to live a long, healthy, comfortable life. Understanding the signs risks of urinary tract disease can help you to know when to bring your pet in for an exam and treatment before greater damage to their body occurs.

If you have questions, or would like to book an appointment, call (607) 733-6503 or book online. We are always happy to help!

Written by Rebecca Burns, LVT