If you're a dog parent, you might find your dog peeing blood at some point. But, while blood in dog urine is a scary sight, it's often a sign of something treatable. A simple urinary tract infection or a benign prostate problem can be the cause.

Hematuria is a term used to describe when blood appears in a dog's urine. This is often due to inflammation or infection in the urinary system which could include the upper or lower urinary tract. The presence of blood in the urine or hematuria should be evaluated by your veterinarian to identify the cause and provide recommendations to help your dog.

Here are common causes of blood in dog urine, what you should do if it affects your dog and the treatments your veterinarian may recommend.

Upper Urinary Tract Causes

As in humans, a dog's upper urinary tract contains two kidneys. Blood in urine originating in this part of the urinary tract tends to affect the kidneys. Some causes for bleeding in the upper urinary tract include:

  • Idiopathic renal hematuria: This is blood in the urine that results from the kidney for an unknown reason. It could be due to medicine, an infection or an issue with the immune system. This is generally considered a benign condition with a hereditary element.
  • Kidney infection: If your dog is peeing blood, one or both of your dog's kidneys could possibly be infected.
  • Kidney stones: While uncommon, kidney stones can affect one or both kidneys resulting in the presence of blood in the urine.
  • Kidney cancer: While uncommon, kidney cancer can affect dogs and cause blood in dog urine. The cancer can remain in the kidney or spread to other parts of the body.
  • Renal telangiectasia: Some dogs, such as Welsh corgis, have a genetic predisposition to this spontaneous widening of blood vessels in the kidney, which can lead to blood in their urine.

Lower Urinary Tract Causes

The lower urinary tract includes the bladder and the urethra, the tube that connects the bladder to the outside world and allows urine to exit the body. Causes for bleeding here include the following:

  • Bladder infection: A lower urinary tract infection (UTI) is by far the most common cause for a dog peeing blood. It can be caused by skin allergies; the anatomy of the urethra, vulva or prepuce; and hormone-related incontinence in spayed females
  • Bladder stones: These can form for a variety of reasons, including genetics, nutrition and chronic infection.
  • Bladder cancer: Bladder cancer in dogs often looks similar to a UTI; it can cause accidents in the house, difficulty urinating and blood in the urine.
  • Prostate problems: Benign prostate enlargement and prostate infection are the most common prostate problems in male dogs who haven't been neutered.

Causes for blood in dog urine that can affect both the upper and lower urinary tracts include a ruptured bladder, which can happen if they're hit by a car or attacked by another dog; coagulopathy (a scientific word that essentially means clotting problems); and vasculitis, or inflammation of the blood vessels.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If you see your dog peeing blood, contact your veterinarian to make an appointment as soon as possible. As a general rule, any dog peeing blood for the first time should be seen by a veterinarian within 24 hours.

At the visit, the veterinarian will try to diagnose the underlying cause of the blood by analyzing your dog's urine. A urine culture may be recommended to see if bacteria might be causing the issue. They may also conduct a blood test or take an X-ray or an ultrasound.

Treatment depends on the specific cause of the blood. The veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics if the issue is related to bacteria. In cases of benign prostate enlargement and prostate neoplasia, they are likely to recommend neutering. Sometimes bloody urine may be caused by bladder stones, of which there are several types. Veterinarians commonly prescribe anti-inflammatory or pain medicine to ease dogs' discomfort.

Your veterinarian may also recommend a change in food. Nutrition is an important component in managing urinary tract problems in dogs. Wet foods can help achieve more dilute urine, and certain foods can reduce stone formation and optimize urine pH.

Preventing Future Urinary Problems

Taking your dog for regular veterinary checkups is the best way to prevent blood in their urine and other urinary problems. Your veterinarian can tell you if your dog is predisposed to urinary issues. If they are, the veterinarian can routinely test your dog's urine to make sure they're in tip-top health.

Also, while it may be easy to just let your dog in the backyard to do their business alone, monitoring your dog's urinary habits occasionally is a necessary part of being a dog parent. Letting an issue like blood in the urine persist can lead to more serious consequences. You are your dog's first line of defense to their health, so careful monitoring and discussions with your veterinarian are pertinent. With love and attention, you can help keep your dog happy and healthy.

Dr. Patty Khuly Dr. Patty Khuly

Dr. Patty Khuly is an award-winning veterinarian known for her independent thinking, her spirited pet advocacy, her passion for the veterinary profession, and her famously irreverent pet health writing.

Dr. K is an honors graduate of both Wellesley College and the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. She received her MBA at The Wharton School of Business as part of the prestigious VMD/MBA dual-degree program. She now owns Sunset Animal Clinic, a veterinary practice in Miami, Florida.