Dog Wheelchair LIFE is blessed with a large and dedicated community of pet families whose opinions I value. So, from time to time I check in with them for advice. Recently I asked members of our Facebook page for their favorite tips to treat dog urinary tract infections and urine scald.
Dozens of pet owners shared their home remedies about how they manage these two frustrating problems that paralyzed dogs face. Many of the ideas and products are ones I used with Sophie and some were new to me.
I hope you find all of the suggestions helpful, but before you start any of them be sure to check with your dog’s veterinarian. Paralysis and incontinence are unique to each pet and your vet will know whether your dog’s overall health could benefit from a specific product.
This post contains some affiliate links. Please read out policy.
Why paralyzed pets are prone to UTIs
Most paraplegic animals are incontinent and have limited or no control over the function of their bladder. Some dogs show signs of this with leaky bladders while others have trouble fully emptying their bladder.
In both cases small amounts of urine stay inside the bladder wall, making it ripe for bacteria to grow and turn into an infection.
For details about this process, click here to read our in-depth Urinary Tract Infection featured article.
What causes of urine scald?
Urine is an acidic substance that’s a mixture of water, salt, electrolytes and chemicals like uric acid. It can burn and irritate delicate areas of the body if it remains in contact with the skin for long periods of time.
You see it happen when urine spills onto the lower belly of a dog with a leaky or overflowing bladder. And you also see it when a dog sits in a diaper too long. In both cases, the pet can’t reach to clean the fragile skin or move away from the puddle of pee.
In mild cases, urine scald looks a lot like diaper rash in human babies. And in serious cases, the burns can be deep and go below the surface of the skin.
Favorite tips to treat dog urinary tract infections and urine scald
Products and techniques pet owners use to protect their incontinent dog. (Check with your vet before using these suggestions)
Express Your Dog’s Bladder – Manually expressing the bladder is the best way to be sure urine doesn’t land on your dog’s delicate skin. If you don’t know how to do this, ask your vet for a hands-on lesson. You can also click here to watch our YouTube video.
Pet Dad Andrei – Keeps his dog healthy with regular bladder and bowel expression, plus good hygiene in the area. Mild liquid soap and water with towel drying also helps.
Soft Towel and Baby Wipes – Keep a clean soft fluffy towel on hand and baby wipes to quickly and gently clean up leakage and accidents.
Pet Mom Yvonne C – Has taken care of numerous paralyzed dogs 12 years. She expresses her pups four times a day and then cleans the area with baby wipes. Yvonne also uses disposable dog diapers to protect delicate skin in the winter and switches to pee pads in the summer so her dog’s skin can breathe.
Good Grooming – Make sure your dog is regularly groomed and hair is shaved around the genitals. This will keep the area clean and less likely for bacteria to grow.
Prescription Medication – Proin is a medication that tightens the urethral sphincter to control leakage. Ask your vet if it’s a good solution if your dog leaks or dribbles.
Shelly L’s Prescription Food – This pet mom uses Royal Canin Urinary SO prescription dog food to curb UTIs.
Vitamin C – 500mg crushed and sprinkled is recommended by Canine Journal for dogs with a UTI. Use for 7 days.
Barrier Creams – Topical creams can soothe scalded skin. Choose one that doesn’t contain zinc oxide. It’s dangerous for dogs. Pet parents recommend: A and D Ointment, without zinc, Vaseline, Udder Ointment, coconut oil (don’t let your dog eat this) and organic chamomile and echinacea lotion.
Cornstarch – This common product is used as a topical barrier to neutralize urine acid.
More advice from pet owners
Baby Powder – Powders that do not contain talc can keep skin dry.
Cranberry and Apple Cider Vinegar – Cranberry supplements can prevent leakage and stop infections. Apple cider vinegar is often used “externally” to neutralize urine that’s leaked onto the skin. It’s also added to a dog’s water. 1 teaspoon for small dogs and 1-2 tablespoons for large dogs.
Kelly M – Uses Cranberry for her dog. It prevents the bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall. She said, “It’s not a cure for UTIs, but it’s helpful.”
Jen Z – Was told by her vet to add Hydrangea Root from Creature Comfort to her dog’s diet. The supplement is used for kidney, bladder and prostate health.
D-Mannose – This supplement is extracted from cranberries. It helps expel urine quickly to promote a clean bladder.
Shawna Mc – Uses D-Mannose and colloidal silver to treat her dog’s UTIs. Be sure to check with your vet before using colloidal silver as it has several side effects.
Antifungal and Antibiotic Creams and Sprays – The top brands are: Vetericyn Wound & Skin Care, Soothe & Cool Perineal No-Rinse Wash and American Kennel Club Tea Tree Soothing Spray.
Diapers – Disposable or washable dog diapers are designed to pull moisture away from the body. They need to be changed often, to prevent urine scald. Also consider overnight diapers for extra absorbency.
Belly Bands – This product is for male dogs. It wraps around the lower belly of a dog and works with an absorbent pad that’s tossed after each use. Two brands I like are from Handicappedpets.com and Barkertime.
Dog Wheelchair – One pet owner discovered that when her dog was upright in his cart, he was able to fully empty his bladder. This cut down on urinary tract infections.
Sometimes it takes a “cocktail” to relieve symptoms
Linda B – Uses a cocktail of supplements for her foster dog’s chronic UTIs after a stroke. These include: a raw diet, colloidal silver, D-Mannose, probiotics and a berry and vitamin C supplement.
Monica S – Recommends a combination of supplements and prescription medication that’s been a lifesaver for her dog with Spina bifida. These include a supplement called Smell N Score to keep the proper pH level in her dog’s bladder and a prescription of Methenamine Hippurate which is used to kill bacteria in the urine.
Bella’s Pet Mom – When Bella was alive her vet prescribed a “cocktail” that included Nitrofurantoin, a prescription drug, along with these supplements: Cranberry, D-Mannose, hemp seed oil, probiotics and propol-gold which is an internal antiseptic. They also used Douxo which is an antiseptic wipe.
Amanda K – Shared that her vet’s advice was to make sure her dog got plenty of clean water to drink. Along with manually expressing, this has kept UTIs to only one in the past two years.
Thank you to our Facebook members for sharing your tips.
I’m so very glad I found your online article, thank you for taking the time to write about your experiences and possible solutions to these problems. I had nothing ready, wasn’t prepared, and am learning what needs done for my girl long after it needed to be done. My heart is broken because my girl has looked after me for over 14 yrs and I feel like I’ve failed her. I am trying to learn, everything I can, as fast as I can to fix our current issues. I also feel very alone, we live in the country, not a lot in choices of veterinarians. Mine simply said your dog has DM during a regular visit because of her staggering. After a few months, her staggering led to her falling, I called the vets office and asked what is the DM thing that was mentioned to me, I asked if it was something serious.
So, one day at a time, do what I can afford to do, love her all I can while I can. The information I got from you has helped us tremendously.
Again, I thank you ma’am.
Carla, I’m happy you found the article helpful. My website has a whole section on dogs with Degenerative Myelopathy. I hope you get the chance to read the material. There are many things pet owners can do to keep the mobility DM dogs strong and stall paralysis.