UTI: Multiple Streams of Infection
Hi. Dr. Nanni here with the Case of the Month for December. As we bring 2019 to a close, I would like to share with you the story of Nova, a wonderful Staffy Terrier that recently came to visit us at the clinic with urinary issues. First, let’s start with some history -- Nova had a urinary tract infection some years ago that was treated effectively with antibiotics, but during her initial examination, crystals were discovered in Nova’s urine. Crystals usually form as a result of the dog’s diet and can encourage the growth of bacteria. As a result of Nova’s initial UTI, her diet was changed to a crystal dissolution diet and she did not have a recurrence of urinary problems for several years. When her urine was recently examined by us at Oak Bay Pet Clinic, there were no signs of crystals but there was a significant urinary tract infection. When looking closer at Nova’s hind end, we discovered that she had a skin infection around her vulva that was harbouring bacteria and acting as a source of infection for her urinary tract. Nova was put on a longer course of antibiotics to treat her urinary tract infection and her owners will be closely cleaning her back-end to prevent further skin infections.
In young and middle aged dogs like Nova, recurrent urinary tract infections usually have an identifiable underlying cause that can often be addressed to decrease the likelihood of future infections. Urinary crystals and stones can act as a breeding ground for bacteria. When we examine urine under the microscope this is one of the main things we look for as there are specific diets that can dissolve stones and remove crystals from the bladder. Other predispositions that can result in urinary tract infections include skin infections around the vulva. Preventing the recurrence of urinary tract infections is very important to the animal’s immediate and long-term health. Additionally, when we treat recurrent bacterial infections there is an increased risk that the bacteria will become tolerant to our antibiotics.
If bacteria become more tolerant of the antibiotics we use, we may lose the ability to effectively treat infections and may then require expensive bacterial cultures to find other effective antibiotics to use. Concerns regarding antibiotic resistance are not limited to urinary tract infections as recurrent skin infections are also common; these concerns also extend beyond veterinary medicine into antibiotic use in human medicine. Addressing the underlying causes of urinary tract infections and treating them early allows for the rapid resolution of disease while decreasing the likelihood of recurrence, leading to happy pets, happy vets and continually effective antibiotics!