When pet owners notice blood in their dog or cat’s urine, they commonly seek emergency veterinary care, which is highly recommended. Hematuria, the proper term for the presence of blood in urine, can be the result of blood coming from any part of the urinary system.

To help you understand, let’s start by going over the make-up of the urinary system. It is comprised of the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. The kidneys produce urine, which travels via the ureters to the bladder. The bladder stores the urine. When an animal urinates, the urine is expelled through the urethra. The urethral opening is located at the end or the penis and within the vagina.

Due to the close association between the urinary and genital systems, blood in the urine of a pet can also originate from the penis and prostate in a male and the uterus and vagina in a female.

Bloody Urine: Causes, Signs and Testing

While each case is unique, common causes of bloody urine in both dogs and cats include:

  • A urinary tract infection
  • Uroliths (stones in the urinary system- kidney, bladder, urethra) with stones in the bladder being the most common location
  • Cystitis (inflammation of the bladder)
  • Tumors of the urinary system
  • Trauma
  • Coagulopathy (clotting problem)

Clinical signs often noticed by owners in addition to bloody urine:

  • Straining to urinate
  • Frequent urination
  • Poor urine stream
  • Excessive grooming/licking of perineal/penile/vulvar area
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Leaking urine
  • Inappropriate urination and “accidents”
  • Increased water consumption
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Decreased appetite

Diagnostic testing is used to determine the cause of hematuria. Tests include:

  • A urinalysis
  • Blood tests- CBC, Chemistry panel, possible coagulation tests
  • Urine culture
  • Abdominal radiographs (plain x-rays and possible contrast studies)
  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • CT scan

Treatment of hematuria aims to identify and treat the underlying cause. Many of the most common causes of hematuria in dogs and cats can be readily identified and treated with either medication and/or surgery. Depending on the trigger of your pet’s bloody urine, veterinarians may recommend one or all of the following:

  • Medications- antibiotics, pain medications, anti-inflammatories
  • Surgery (for stones, some urinary tumors, anatomical abnormalities)
  • Change in diet/switching to a prescription diet

How CARE Can Help You:

As you may or may not know, CARE is open 24/7/365. An emergency vet is always on call to treat pets in need. Call us ahead of time to let us know why you are on your way. Our number is 704-457-2300.

The presence of blood in your pet’s urine, whether independently or in conjunction with the other symptoms listed above, is always cause for concern. We strongly recommend immediate evaluation by your family vet or an emergency vet at CARE.

Before bringing your pet in for his or her appointment, try to prevent him or her from urinating within an hour or two of their exam. A urinalysis is the most valuable diagnostic test and requires a proper urinary sample to be accurate.

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