The sight of blood is frightening for any pet owner. Blood in dog urine is called haematuria, and if you’ve ever noticed this symptom in your pooch, you’ll know how worrying it can be – it can send your mind into a tailspin with visions of a heart-breaking diagnosis and expensive veterinary bills.
While a dog peeing blood is not always a story of doom and gloom, this can still be a serious symptom, so calling your vet should be your top priority. But there are many possible explanations for this problem, and a lot of them are treatable health conditions.
If blood in dog urine has set off alarm bells for you, here is what you need to know about this symptom.
What is haematuria or blood in dog urine?
Haematuria is the technical term for blood in urine. When blood cells find their way into your dog’s urine, they can give it an unusual colour such as brown, pink, orange or red. A urinary tract problem is one of the most common explanations for why your dog is peeing blood, but it’s not the only possible cause.
It’s also important to note that sometimes there can be blood in your dog’s urine that isn’t visible to the naked eye. The colour might be normal, but blood cells could still be present. In these cases, it’s important to pick up on other signs that your pet is unwell, as you won’t be able to identify the problem by looking for a change in urine colour.
However, if you do spot a change in the colour of your dog’s urine, or any other signs of haematuria, be sure to contact the vet straightaway.
What are the possible signs of haematuria?
As we’ve mentioned previously, the classic sign of haematuria is a pink or red tinge to the urine. However, the urine may also become brown or orange or it may just become a stronger colour or start to smell more. There are also several other signs of urine problems that often come alongside haematuria including:
- Straining when urinating or trying to urinate without success
- Urinating more frequently than normal
- Only passing small amounts of urine or dripping urine
- Whimpering or howling when urinating
- Swelling or redness around the penis or vulva (opening to the vagina)
- Excessively trying to lick or rub around the penis or vulva
- Discharge from the penis or vulva
- Becoming quiet or withdrawn
Why is your dog peeing blood?
There is a long list of health issues that can lead to haematuria. The most common ones are:
- Urinary infection
- Kidney or bladder stones or urinary crystals
- Kidney infection
- Prostate problems
- Cancer (especially in older dogs)
- Blood clotting problems
- Trauma after an injury
- Inflammation of the blood vessels
You may also see some blood in the urine or bloody discharge coming from the vulva when a female dog is in season. This can be perfectly normal; however, if you have any concerns surrounding this, it’s best to get in touch with your vet for further advice.
Is blood in dog urine a sign of cancer?
One of the most common thoughts owners tend to have after seeing their dog peeing blood is the scary question: is it cancer? Urinary cancers can sometimes cause haematuria and, although urinary infection is a much more common cause of this symptom, it’s best to get in touch with your vet straight away if you see any signs of haematuria.
Cancers in the urinary system (which includes the kidneys and the bladder) may or may not cause haematuria, as well as several other signs which can include weight loss, lethargy and lack of appetite. Although these types of cancer are quite rare, it’s always best to keep an eye out for any unusual symptoms in your pet and be sure to get in touch with your vet straight away if you notice any abnormal signs. It’s also important that your pet attends their routine vet check-ups, especially as they get older, as this may enable your vet to pick up on subtle but important signs of illness, so they are able to identify treatments early on.
The chances of cancer being the diagnosis your dog will receive is unfortunately higher for older pets. If you need to find out more about how cancer affects dogs, and what treatments are available, read our expert guide.
Is your dog peeing blood, but acting normal?
Many health conditions associated with haematuria may remain invisible to even the most careful owners. Oftentimes blood in your dog’s urine is the first symptom you will notice (or you may notice the other signs associated with haematuria listed above), but it’s likely that these signs won’t be the last. This is why it’s important to call your vet and ask for their help before any underlying health problems start to manifest in other ways too. It’s best not to wait more than 24 hours before taking your pet to the vet for a consultation if you’ve noticed blood in their urine.
How to help a dog peeing blood? Possible treatments
There are many health conditions that can cause haematuria and there are also many ways to treat this problem. Depending on the reason why there is blood in the dog’s urine, your vet might recommend anything from pain relief and antibiotics – if they suspect an infection is causing the unusual symptoms – to imaging or surgery if they identify urinary crystals to diagnose conditions such as bladder stones or a urinary tract tumour.
Your vet may also recommend changes in your dog’s diet or exercise routine. Even something as simple as making sure your dog is always hydrated can make a difference, especially if the underlying illness is a urinary tract infection.
This is why, if you notice abnormal symptoms in your dog, it’s important to get in touch with your vet, who will be able to advise you on whether your pet needs to be examined.
How to prevent haematuria in dogs?
The best thing owners can do to minimise the chances of unusual symptoms such as blood in the urine from taking them by surprise is to go to the vet for regular health checks. If your dog is predisposed to urinary tract problems, this can sometimes be managed by changes in diet or medication; this includes kidney problems in dogs which can be better managed when caught early on.
As previously mentioned, monitoring your dog’s toileting habits is also useful. Urine colour is such a simple cue for all sorts of health imbalances. Checking the colour of the urine and looking out for signs your dog is in pain when peeing, as well as the other signs associated with haematuria that we’ve listed, is a good habit for any dog owner to get into, as often the sooner you discover that there is a problem, the easier the solution will be.
We put together a list of unusual symptoms in dogs and what these subtle signs might mean, so you can help your four-legged friend as soon as you notice them. Check out our guide, next.