Dog UTI Subtle Signs: I Always Thought That A UTI Would Scream It’s Presence

I always thought that a UTI (urinary tract infection) would scream it’s presence loud and clear.

The typical symptoms associated with urinary tract infections in dogs include:

  • frequent urination but usually small amounts at the time
  • difficulty urinating
  • potty accidents
  • urine dribbling
  • smelly urine
  • blood in urine
  • painful urination
  • excessive licking of the area

That’s what you picture when thinking about a UTI. Jasmine had none of those.

Dog UTI Subtle Signs: I Always Thought That A UTI Would Scream It's Presence

Jasmine’s story

As it turns out, a UTI doesn’t have to come screaming with any of the symptoms listed above.

Particularly if, there are things that can cloud the issue, such as if your dog is on steroids. Jasmine was treated with steroids for spinal issues. Being on steroids on its own causes increased drinking and urination. 

How would that be different from a urinary tract infection?

On steroids, Jasmine would pee somewhat more frequently, quite large volumes each time. With an infection, you’d expect smaller amounts more frequently. But with Jasmine, this was not the case.


Being on steroids increases the chances of your dog getting an infection, a UTI being one of them. It can also help mask any associated pain and discomfort.

So now you have a situation which makes it more likely for your dog to get an infection and makes it harder to tell what is going on at the same time.

Jasmine’s signs

Here is how it played out with Jasmine.

While on the steroids, her drinking was somewhat increased but nowhere near to what I expected. Her urination also increased but more in volume rather than in frequency. She’d typically ask to go out once or twice more often than normal.

Once she was weaned off them, we assumed this to go away but didn’t expect it to go away overnight.

Increased thirst

A couple of days after she was off the steroids Jasmine started drinking more than usual; even more than when she was on the steroids. That was strange and alarming, so I talked to the vet about it right away.

He said we should start with a urinalysis to see what might be going on.

He did mention UTI but it was not adding up with the symptoms to me at all. She was not showing any of the typical symptoms …?

After a day and a half of increased drinking, it suddenly stopped and went back to normal. False alarm? Body adjusting to getting off the meds?

False alarm?

After another talk with the vet, we all figured it was a false alarm. “We don’t need to do the urinalysis if she’s not sick,” he said.

Was she sick or wasn’t she?

Jasmine was still urinating somewhat larger volume and the urine looked somewhat more dilute than normal, but not more than when on the steroids. So the question was, how long should it take for things go back to normal? Blood work would show a dog on steroids for between two weeks to a month. For the sake of the stem cell therapy it is recommended to wait 45 days, so clearly, the body might not be back to normal before that…

Jasmine also had some stomach upsets and stool trouble before, which was believed to be an effect of the meds, perhaps this was part of that also?

All too vague

The symptoms were as vague as you can come up with. Jasmine mostly just seemed kind of under the weather.

There was nothing one could put their finger on. Her appetite was lower than I’d expect, and no, it wasn’t because she was so hungry while on the steroids. I wasn’t comparing her appetite to that on steroids, but to that before. It was still lower than that.

Gut feeling

Mostly it was just a feeling I had, that something wasn’t right.

Could it all be just her coming off the steroids? Perhaps. But a worried mom that I am, based on the funny feeling, I decided to do the urinalysis after all.

And what do you know, the urinalysis results did point to a UTI quite clearly.

Seriously? With such a lack of the signs you always read about? Frankly, though, I was glad it was something simple; I was worried about her kidneys.

Jasmine was put on antibiotics, the signs had resolved and the follow-up urinalysis says the infection is gone.

So it seems there is one we can cross off the board. Her blood work also didn’t show anything alarming. I am still keeping a watchful eye on Jasmine.

Did your dog ever had a UTI with vague symptoms? How did you figure it out?

Related articles:
Potty Accidents in Dogs: Incontinence versus UTIs

Further reading:
Does Your Dog Have a Urinary Tract Infection? Learn the Symptoms

Categories: ConditionsExcessive drinkingReal-life StoriesSymptomsUrinary tract infection (UTI)

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

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