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Why is My Dog's Urinary Tract Infection UTI Not Getting Better?

Why is My Dog's Urinary Tract Infection UTI Not Getting Better?

When a dog gets a urinary tract infection, a course of antibiotics is prescribed as a treatment, and therefore, it can be concerning when a dog's urinary tract infection is not getting better despite such treatment. It's important to follow up with your veterinarian if this is what you are dealing with considering that normally a course of antibiotics is all that is needed to treat this type of infection. It's therefore normal wondering "why is my dog's urinary tract infection not getting better despite using antibiotics? " There may be several reasons for a dog not getting better and most of them require veterinary evaluation.

dog uti not getting better

A Matter of Time

Defeating a urinary tract infection may take some time and it's important to monitor the dog carefully to determine whether the dog is feeling better or not.

Dogs with a urinary tract infections often show signs of increased urination, straining and licking private parts. There is also often presence of blood in the dog's urine. Generally, after starting antibiotics, dog owners should start seeing some signs of improvement.

After how many days on antibiotics should a dog show signs of recovering from a urinary tract infection? Generally, for a dog urinary tract infection, antibiotics take 3 to 5 days to start killing the infection, explains veterinarian Dr. Drew.

If the symptoms do not get better by 4 or 5 days, usually this warrants consulting with the vet to determine if further evaluation may be needed. Sometimes, it may take a little more time, especially if the urinary tract infection was severe or recurrent, but it's always best to consult with the vet if symptoms don't get better or happen to get worse or persist even after finishing the antibiotic course.

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Did you know? Stopping antibiotics too early can cause your dog's urinary tract infection to come back and with a vengeance. It's very important to finish the whole antibiotic course as prescribed even if your dog is feeling better before finishing the course.


A Matter of Antibiotics 

Not all antibiotics are created equally and some may do a better job than others in defeating a urinary tract infection in a dog. If your dog's urinary tract infection is not getting better by the day, there are therefore chances that she may need a different antibiotic.

This is why it's important having a urinalysis that includes a culture and sensitivity test preferably done on a sterile sample (obtained by cystocentesis) to determine exactly what bacteria are present and which antibiotics work best to combat these.

What exactly is a culture for a dog UTI? A culture is basically a test where the concentration of bacteria in the urine is amplified and the bacteria are identified so to choose the most appropriate antibiotic that targets such bacteria.

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Generally, veterinarians choose broad spectrum antibiotics such as Clavamox from the get-go, without going through the costs of a urine culture done on a sterile sample, because such antibiotics cover a wide variety of bacteria. Not giving the right antibiotic is often a matter of dog owners who feel tempted to skip the veterinarian and self-treat at home giving antibiotics prescribed for humans, which may not always be appropriate or are perhaps even expired or stored improperly.

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Did you know? Urinary tract infections are more common in female dogs than males because of their conformation. Female dogs have a wider and shorter urethra which makes it easier to contaminate by bacteria causing an infection.


Something Else Going On 

In the medical and veterinary world there is a saying "when you hear hoof beats, think horses, not zebras." This means that when a veterinarian is presented with a dog showing classical signs of a urinary tract infection, he will treat it as a UTI considering that that's the most common medical condition seen in dogs manifesting those symptoms (horse); however, sometimes they may stumble on the occasional condition that is less common or perhaps even quite rare (zebra).

If your dog feels better after taking antibiotics for a UTI (as most dogs do), then your vet was right, but if the symptoms persist, then this can be indicative of something else going on.

This conservative think-horse- not-zebra approach is taken based on the chances of what the condition likely is and is also lighter on the dog owner's wallet, considering that many dog owners may be reluctant to pay for expensive disgnostics or let their dog's endure more invasive diagnostic tests, especially if they're unnecessary. However, if your dog doesn't respond to antibiotics prescribed for a UTI, then this often means that it's time to do further testing, usually an x-ray or an ultrasound.

Other Possibilities

An x-ray of the dog's bladder may show that the dog wasn't actually suffering from a urinary tract infection but the presence of stones. Sometimes though, stones may not be seen on X-ray, and an ultrasound of the bladder may be needed to identify them. Dog bladder stones require a different treatment which explains why a dog isn't getting better with a course of antibiotics to treat a dog's urinary tract infection.

Another concern with a dog urinary tract infection not getting better with antibiotics or dog UTI symptoms coming back after antibiotics are stopped, is a a tumor in the bladder, which is more likely in an elderly dog. A cystography may be needed to find abnormalities. So if your dog's UTI is not getting better, is getting worse while on the antibiotics or is coming back after the course is stopped, consult with your vet to determine what is going on. A table of other possible reasons is listed below.

dog antibiotics for uti not working


    • DVM360, Managing complicated urinary tract infections (Proceedings)
    • DVM360, Diagnosing and managing recurrent urinary tract infections

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