Cystitis or inflammation of the bladder is a common complaint seen in both cats and dogs. It is a painful condition and has the potential to lead to more serious consequences if not acted on swiftly. The causes of cystitis can be varied and require very different approaches in their treatment. The most common symptoms are shown below:
- Straining to urinate
- Urinating more often than normal-this may be in inappropriate locations
- Changes in urine colour, often will become cloudy and/or bloody in appearance
- Failing to pass urine when attempting to or passing very small amounts
- Drinking excessively
- Licking at their genitalia
- Reduced appetite
In young cats, that is under the age of 10 years, bladder infections are very rare as their urine is very acidic and concentrated and so infectious agents tend not to be able to grow there. The most common cause of cystitis in this group, is related to stress, and typically brought on by changes in the environment such as a new baby or pet, building work within the family home or a new cat in the neighbourhood. Cats are very sensitive creatures and so can become stressed with very minimal changes and this may not be noticeable in their behaviour.
Causes of cystitis in dogs and older cats, can include mineral stones within the bladder or kidneys, bacterial infections and cancers of the bladder. Bladder infections, which are very common in dogs and particularly bitches, can occur as a result of a more serious underlying condition which means the urine is not as concentrated and therefore, predisposes the animal to it.
These all tend to have very similar symptoms and so if you notice your pet exhibiting any of the above listed symptoms, then book in to take them to the vet as soon as possible. The treatment will very much depend on the diagnosis.
If you can obtain a urine sample to take to the vets with you, in a clean receptacle (pot or Tupperware), this will be useful as the vet may want to analyze the sample. Take care obtaining the sample by wearing disposable gloves and washing your hands afterwards. The fresher the sample the better, so try and obtain this as close to the veterinary appointment as possible.
If you have a cat showing signs of cystitis, then contact your vet immediately. Cats with cystitis, and in particular male cats, can become blocked. This is an emergency situation and means that they are unable to pass urine.
If you have any non-urgent veterinary questions you’d like Oliver to answer in the next issue please email [email protected]