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Cephalexin for Dog Urinary Tract Infections

Dog Urinary Tract Infections

If your dog developed a UTI, you may want to learn more about the use of cephalexin for dog urinary tract infections. Urinary tract infections in dogs are something that shouldn't be taken lightly: as in people, left untreated, urinary tract infections can become dangerous as bacteria may ascend into the kidneys creating significant complications. While it may be tempting to try to treat urinary tract infections at home using home remedies, should these not work, there are risks for things getting worse rather than better. If your dog has signs of urinary tract infection, the fastest way to get it under control is through the use of antibiotics and cephalexin for dog urinary tract infections is quite often prescribed.

puppy squatting and can't pee

Dog Urinary Tract Infections 

Urinary tract infections are not uncommon in dogs. Typically, when dogs are affected, they develop frequent urination, dribbling of urine around the house (even in a perfectly house trained dog), blood tinged or discolored urine, repeated squatting producing just little drops, a strong odor to the urine, licking the private areas because of burning sensation and increased fluid intake.

Urinary tract infections are particularly common in female dogs. This is because of their anatomy. With their urethra (the tube that connects the dog's bladder to the the outside) being short and wide, this feature allows bacteria easy access to enter the bladder and cause a potential infection, explains veterinarian Dr. Fiona. Male dogs can get urinary tract infections too, but they are less common due to their longer urethra.

"How did my dog end up getting a urinary tract infection?" There can be various causes of urinary tract infections in dogs. On top of anatomical features, there are several others potential predisposing factors. For instance, dogs who are overweight or dogs who have had a recent bout of diarrhea, (due to fecal contamination) may be more predisposed.

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Additionally, dogs suffering from diabetes mellitus (due to loss of sugar in the urine), dogs with kidney disease (diluted urine is easier for bacteria to colonize) and dogs with bladder stones (bacteria may hide in their crevices), urinary incontinence or dogs with a lot of fur nearby or a deep -seated vulva ( causing the area to stay moist and dirty, which predisposes to infection), can be more likely to suffer from urinary tract infections. Dogs taking steroids may also be predisposed due to the suppression of the immune system's ability to fight bacteria.

Diagnosing a Dog UTI

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A dog's urinary tract infection is often diagnosed based on the dog's history (symptoms suggesting a urinary tract infection) and by testing a urine sample. The urine sample test is important because there are other health conditions that can cause symptoms similar to a UTI (bladder stones, bladder cancer).

There are two ways to test a urine sample in dogs: by catching a sample as the dog urinates or through a procedure known as cystocentesis.

The “free-flow” or “free catch” sample is obtained by catching a urine sample mid-stream (collected in a sterile container0 as the dog urinates. While this is an easy and non-invasive way to collect urine, the urine sample collected this way is likely to be contaminated by debris from the dog's urethra or the environment, explain veterinarian Dr. Kristiina Ruotsalo and Dr. Margo S. Tant, in an article for VCA Animal Hospitals.

In cystocentesis a sterile needle is injected into the bladder to collect a urine sample directly. While this is a bit more invasive (yet in most cases doesn't require sedation), the advantage is that the urine sample is not contaminated and this method is therefore preferable for detecting bacterial infections. Alternatively, a sterile catheter can be placed up the urethra into the bladder and urine is withdraw with a syringe.

Once the urine sample is obtained, the urine is then spun until cells and and other material settle to the bottom (sediment). The sediment is then placed on a slide so that it can be evaluated under a microscope. An increased number of white blood cells along with bacteria is indicative of the presence of inflammation secondary to a bacterial infection.

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The Use of Antibiotics 

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If the urine sample denotes a potential urinary tract infection, antibiotics are typically given for 7 to 14 days. The choice of antibiotics may vary depending on several factors. Generally, vets will "guess" the most appropriate antibiotic to use. To play it safe, they often choose broad-spectrum antibiotics that cover a wide variety of bacteria on an empirical basis.

Performing a culture and sensitivity test though on the urine samplecan be insightful. This test reveals exactly what types of bacteria are causing the infection (usually E. coli, proteus, staph or strep) so that the right type of antibiotic can be used. To have the test performed, the urine sample must be sent out to a laboratory and it will cost an additional fee.

After the use of antibiotics, the dog's urine should then be rechecked about 5 days after the last antibiotic dose. This recheck allows the vet to determine whether the infection has cleared up.

"Unless a sample of urine is sent to a lab for a culture and sensitivity test, then antibiotic choices are simply a guess. "~Dr. Fiona, veterinarian

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Cephalexin For Dog UTI

Cephalexin (also known by its brand name Keflex) is a broad spectrum antibiotic that is considered to be generally quite safe to use in dogs with a urinary tract infection. Although prescribed for humans, Cephalexin requires a veterinary prescription and belongs to the cephalosporin class of drugs. This drug's effectiveness and safety makes it a good choice as a first-line therapy drug. Because this drug is expelled through the kidneys, it's therefore optimal for both kidney and urinary tract infections in dogs.

According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, Cehalexin is effective against Staphylococcus spp, Streptococcus spp, E coli, Proteus, and Klebsiella but not against Pseudomonas, enterococci, and Enterobacter.

How does cephalexin work for dog urinary tract infections? Cephalexin works in a similar fashion as penicillin drugs do. It kills bacteria by preventing them from forming a protective cell wall.

According to veterinarian Dr. Mark Papich, "the usual dose of cephalexin for dogs and cats is 10 to 15 mg per pound (22 to 30 mg/kg) every 8 to 12 hours orally ." This means that a 50 pound dog may get 500 mg cephalexin twice a day (total 1,000 mg a day), while an 100 pound dog may get 1,000 mg twice a day (total 2,000 mg a day). Cephalexin is not designed as a once a day drug as, in order to be effective, this medication requires a steady concentration within the bloodstream, explains veterinarian Dr. Andy. Doses can be adjusted for dogs with kidney problems.

As with other antibiotics, Cephalexin is known for causing digestive problems. Affected dogs may develop lack of appetite, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Giving the medication with food can lower the chances for digestive upset and probiotics such as Fortiflora can help replace healthy gut bacteria. Always consult with your vet for proper diagnosis and treatment including dosing instructions.

"1000mg of Cephalexin is an appropriate dose for a large-breed dog, typically anything over 60-70 pounds or so should be able to tolerate that dose." Dr. Drew, veterinarian

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  • J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1983 Jun 15;182(12):1346-7.Cephalexin for oral treatment of canine urinary tract infection caused by Klebsiella pneumoniae. Ling GV, Ruby AL
  • VCA Animal Hospital, Urinalysis
  • Pet Place: Cephalexin

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