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Latest health and behavior news and advice from the veterinarians at Tufts University.

Expert Advice August 2013 Issue

Dear Doctor - Chronic urinary tract infections

Letter to Tufts Veterinarians

Q My eight-year-old schnauzer-elk hound mix is a wonderful companion. However, I am concerned as she has chronic urinary tract infections that are expensive to treat; the vet gives her injections and antibiotics. He says the reason she keeps getting UTIs is that she has a “hooded vagina,” a configuration that causes bacteria to linger. A friend told me to feed her yogurt, which I am doing, and I am also feeding her Science Diet C/D, which is formulated for urinary heath for dogs. Is there anything more that can be done for my precious pet? I cannot bear to watch her suffer, as she is a wonderful dog.
Mildred Hare
Columbus, Ohio

Dear Ms. Hare,
A Good news, as there may be a simple solution to your dog’s problem. The “hooded vagina” you refer to is a fairly common hereditary condition in which a female dog has a fold of excess skin above the vulva. The skin beneath the fold can indeed become infected with bacteria, and those bacteria can then ascend into the urinary tract, causing the typical signs of infection: straining to urinate, blood in the urine, frequent urination, and so forth. The solution is a relatively simple surgical procedure called an episioplasty, in which the excess skin is removed. Your veterinarian may be able to perform the procedure or recommend a veterinary surgeon who can. Please note that it’s possible your dog has other causes of urinary tract infection, such as stones in the bladder, and it would be wise to check for these before the surgery. If stones are present, they can be removed during the same anesthesia.

It’s important to recognize, too, that if a vulvar skin fold is the source of the infections, it is very unlikely that dietary and antibiotic therapies alone could solve the problem. And feeding yogurt absolutely will not help!

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