Cystitis refers to inflammation of the bladder wall. Several underlying medical issues can cause cystitis. The most common cause of cystitis is a bacterial infection. This is especially true for female dogs and cats. Bacterial infections in dogs and cats happen the same way they do in people, and pets will show similar symptoms. These symptoms include: increased frequency of urination, straining to void the bladder, and blood in the urine. Antibiotics are used to treat bladder infections.
Bladder stones (uroliths) can also cause cystitis. Bladder stones are mineral deposits that form into rock-like substances. These stones can be as large as golf balls! The symptoms are exactly the same as with bladder infections. Occasionally, a small stone may become trapped in a male dog’s or cat’s urethra causing a blockage. This is a serious condition that requires emergency treatment.
During the early stages of stone development, the pet will have crystals in the urine. Dogs may or may not develop symptoms of cystitis during the crystal phase. Cats will typically start to show symptoms during this phase. As I stated earlier, these crystals and stones are caused by mineral deposits. These deposits are created by the urine either being too acidic or too alkaline. The treatment is a change in diet, which will either raise or lower the pH of the urine. Some bladder stones will dissolve in response to the diet change. However, surgery is usually needed to remove the stones.
A less common cause of cystitis is a bladder tumor. These usually develop in older female dogs. The tumors are typically benign.
There are other less common causes of cystitis. All causes create the same symptoms. Therefore, if your pet is showing symptoms of cystitis, you should take him or her to a veterinarian in order to get an accurate diagnosis.