What is cystitis?
term cystitis literally means “inflammation of the urinary
bladder”. This term is rather general and applies to any disease that
causes inflammation of the urinary bladder.
What causes cystitis?
most common cause of cystitis in dogs is an infection due to bacteria.
Other common causes include bladder stones, tumors or polyps in the
bladder, and abnormal anatomy.
What are the signs of cystitis?
most common clinical sign is hematuria or blood in the urine.
Cystitis often causes discomfort and pain. Dogs with cystitis will
spend several minutes squatting and producing only a small amount of
urine, and they may urinate more frequently than normal.
signs will be determined by the specific cause of cystitis. Bacterial
infections usually cause hematuria and dysuria (straining to
urinate.) Bladder stones are often very rough and cause irritation as
they rub against the bladder wall. Tumors or polyps are usually not
irritating to the bladder, but they can cause bleeding and straining
to urinate. A diverticulum is a small pouch in the wall of the bladder
that usually causes hematuria and dysuria secondary to the chronic
bacterial infection that occurs. Bacteria often reside deep in the
diverticulum and are extremely difficult to cure without surgery.
How is cystitis diagnosed?
history of hematuria, dysuria, and increased frequency of urination is
strong evidence of some form of cystitis. When these are seen, several
tests are appropriate.
first group of tests includes urinalysis, urine culture, and bladder
palpation (feeling with the fingers). A urinalysis consists of
several tests to detect abnormalities in the urine and urine sediment.
These are generally adequate to confirm cystitis, but they do not tell
us the exact cause. A urine culture and sensitivity determines
if bacteria are present and what antibiotics are likely to be
effective in killing them. This is appropriate because most cases of
cystitis are caused by bacteria, which may be eliminated easily with
antibiotics. Bladder palpation is the first “test” for bladder
stones, since many are large enough to be felt by experienced fingers.
What is done if cystitis is present, but the culture is negative for
bacteria and stones cannot be felt?
scenario occurs about 20% of the time. When it happens, it is
important that more tests be performed so that a diagnosis can be
radiographs (x-rays) are taken to evaluate
the bladder for common types of bladder stones. However, the mineral
composition of other stones requires that special radiographs, using
contrast materials, be utilized. Plain radiographs are usually not
able to reveal bladder tumors, polyps, or diverticula. A plain
radiograph can be made without sedation or anesthesia in most dogs.
ultrasound examination is also useful in evaluating the bladder.
This technique uses sound waves to visualize stones and some tumors
and polyps. It may also identify other abnormalities of the bladder
wall, including wall thickening. It can often be performed without
sedation or anesthesia.
Contrast radiographs are taken when plain
radiographs and an ultrasound examination do not provide the
diagnosis. The bladder is first filled with a negative contrast
material (usually air), then a positive contrast material (a special
radiographic dye), and finally a positive contrast material with a
negative contrast material (double contrast study). A radiograph is
taken each time. These three procedures permit visualization of
otherwise unseen bladder stones, tumors and polyps, diverticula, and
wall thickening. It is necessary to pass a catheter into the bladder
and to distend it with the contrast materials; therefore, general
anesthesia is required.
showing other signs of illness, such as fever, poor appetite, or
lethargy, should also be evaluated for systemic diseases and bleeding
disorders that may be causing hematuria. For these dogs, a
chemistry profile and complete blood count (CBC) should be
performed. If a clotting problem is suspected, a bleeding profile
How is cystitis treated?
depends on the cause. Bacterial infections are generally treated with
antibiotics. Some bladder stones can be dissolved with special diets
while others require surgical removal. Benign bladder polyps can
usually be surgically removed, but malignant bladder tumors are
difficult to treat successfully. A bladder diverticulum should be
veterinarian will discuss the appropriate tests and treatments
necessary to return your pet to normal health as soon as possible.