Our In-House Vet Dr Barbara Fougere BSc BVMS (Hons) MODT MHSc (Herb Med) BHSc (Comp Med) Grad Dip Herb Med, Grad Dip VCHM, Grad Dip VWHM, Grad Dip VA gives advice on Bladder Health. Bladder health is something we don’t often think about with cats and dogs unless there is an obvious problem. Urinary tract infections in dogs and feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) in cats are some of the common bladder issues that lead to the discomfort and increased frequency or urgency of urination with cystitis. Incontinence can be another sign of bladder problems as can making toilet mistakes in the home. But sometimes bladder problems are not so obvious. Cystitis (inflammation of the bladder) can be caused by bacteria in the urinary tract which result in inflammation and discomfort, but bladder infections can occur without obvious symptoms. So called silent infections occur in 2% to 9% of healthy dogs according to reports. 8% to 30% of dogs with skin disease treated with cyclosporin or prednisolone have bacteria in their urine. Dogs with Cushing’s disease and diabetes are also at risk of bacterial bladder infections. A low level of bacteria can go unnoticed, but they can still cause inflammation of the bladder wall. Bacteria usually get to the bladder travelling from the outside of the body underneath the tail into the bladder through the urinary passage. Those bacteria in the bladder, likewise, can travel further into the body and lodge in the kidneys where they can cause damage. Bacteria bladder infections occur much less frequently in cats with only 1% to 2% of cats suffering a urinary tract infection in their lifetime. 2-19% of cats with FLUTD with signs of difficulty peeing, blood-tinged urine and sometimes blockages have bacterial infections. However, cystitis-inflammation of the bladder is common to all. In cats without FLUTD, that is healthy cats, about 6% have bacteria in their urine, usually older- >10-year-old female cats. 12% to 29% of cats with kidney disease, diabetes and thyroid disease have bacteria in their urine. The ideal way to find out if your cat or dog has a bladder issue is in the first instance to visit the vet. A urinary sample will be evaluated for three reasons, to determine if there are bacteria, and if so whether treatment is necessary and if so, what antibiotic to use. Resistance to antibiotics is a major problem, so testing is critical. Antibiotics are not always necessary, and your veterinarian might implement another plan. What can you do to support bladder health and minimise the potential for inflammation and infection whether on antibiotics or not? We recommend Advanced Urinary and Calm Care for Dogs and Advanced Urinary Care for Cats. Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) are components of the bladder wall affecting function and structure of the bladder and are under the influence of hormones. They are lower in neutered and speyed dogs which may explain why desexed dogs especially females are more prone to incontinence. In cats with FLUTD natural GAG levels are low. GAGS such as N Acetyl D Glucosamine and Hyaluronic Acid help support a healthier bladder wall. Stress is also a factor especially for cats with FLUTD. Supplementing with Advanced Urinary Care provides some anxiety reducing ingredients including Theanine and Tryptophan that support mental health and consistently cat owners report calmer kitties when using this product. Quercetin is a natural anti-inflammatory derived from plants. Its gentle and supports bladder health without risk to kidneys. This approach has improved the wellbeing and bladder health in many cats and dogs in feedback provided by dog and cat owners. We also recommend the use of probiotic paste when an infection is present or suspected. Probiotics can alter the microbiome in the bowel which in turn can reduce the type of bacteria that are associated with bladder infections. These supplements can safely be given with antibiotics or on their own for long term bladder health maintenance.