Hematuria: Blood in Urine of Dogs and Cats

Hematuria

What is hematuria?
Hematuria is simply the presence of red blood cells in urine.

What are the symptoms of hematuria?
You might think this condition would always be obvious to you because you can’t imagine peeing blood yourself and not being aware of it. But in our dogs and cats, sometimes we don’t have any clue at all that hematuria exists until a veterinarian requests a urine sample for some other reason. In fact, it is not unusual to stumble across evidence of urinary problems, including hematuria, when running routine, wellness lab tests in apparently healthy animals—another good reason to request regular wellness tests. If you do see symptoms this is what they could look like:

  • A change in the color of the urine towards a pinker or reddish hue (the change would be hard to notice when your pet urinates outside in the dirt or grass, or if your cat uses a litter box)
  • Blood stains in other parts of the house
  • Your previously well-housetrained pet is having accidents in or around the house
  • Your pet is asking to go out and urinate more frequently
  • Your pet squats to urinate multiple times in a row rather than just once
  • Your cat is making increased trips to the litter box, producing multiple small, wet, clumped areas rather than the medium ones that are typical
  • Your pet is persistently wet in areas where urine is leaking due to incontinence
  • Your pet is licking or grooming more in the groin area
  • In severe cases your pet may be having real pain or difficulty urinating—causing restlessness or crying

In a nutshell, if your pet has blood in his urine you may see it or you may not, and your pet may have lots of symptoms or no symptoms at all.

What causes hematuria?
Pretty much anything that causes irritation, inflammation or bruising of the urinary tract can result in the presence of blood in the urine.
The complete list of possibilities is very long, but the most common causes are:

Bleeding disorders can also make an otherwise normal urinary tract more susceptible to bleeding. This can happen in the presence of an underlying hemophilia, as a result of infectious disorders like ehrlichiosis (tick fever), or with some toxins like warfarin (found in human prescriptions and in rat poisons), or with immune-mediated conditions associated with reduced platelets--blood elements necessary for normal clotting.

There are also disorders of the reproductive tract that produce blood and other secretions that then mix with urine. For example, prostatic disease in males, uterine or vaginal disorders or normal estrous cycles in females, can all result in blood ending up in voided urine.

Depending on what we call signalment (your pet’s species, breed, age, sex, etc.), the taking of a thorough history (any current clinical symptoms and/or past illnesses or episodes–urinary or otherwise), and the findings from a complete physical examination, your veterinarian will recommend a diagnostic plan that will definitely include a complete urinalysis and bacterial culture if indicated. It will probably also include blood work and/or radiographs and/or an ultrasound evaluation. Based on those results your veterinarian will either recommend further diagnostic steps or appropriate medical or surgical treatment.

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian -- they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

 

Reviewed on: 
Friday, June 5, 2015

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