Common Problems of the Urinary and Reproductive Systems

The components of the urinary system are the bladder, prostate, and urethra, as well as the kidneys and ureters. The system works together. The two kidneys' jobs are to siphon excess waste created by ordinary metabolism, and regulate water and minerals. Wastes are deposited into the ureter, which empties into the bladder. Urine passes from the bladder to outside the body via the urethra (in the male, the urethra also transports semen).

Potential Problems

If all is functioning well, your dog will urinate regularly (not frequently), and his urine will be clear and yellow in color. A problem of the kidneys, bladder, urethra, or prostate will be evident as straining to urinate, bloodtinged or cloudy urine, excessive drinking accompanied by excessive urination, or pain upon urination. The problem could be something as minor as dehydration or as complicated as renal failure. You must consult your veterinarian for a diagnosis.

Blood in the urine is a sure sign of a urinary tract infection — if not a more serious condition — and you should consult your veterinarian immediately. Often, feeding your dog a simple bowl of beef or chicken broth is a solid start toward getting your dog back on track, because he'll want to drink it, thereby replenishing the fluids in his body. Discuss this option with your vet before moving forward.

Spaying or Neutering Your Dog

Consider spaying your female or neutering your dog as preventive care for a number of reasons. Healthwise, a spayed female is far less prone to diseases of the reproductive system, because her reproductive organs have been removed. A neutered male is immune to testicular and prostate cancers. As for behavior, you'll be spared the mess of the female's biannual season, and your male will be less likely to lift his leg in your home, roam in search of females in heat, or engage in aggressive behavior.

The female's reproductive organs include two ovaries, a uterus, and fallopian tubes. A spayed female will have all of these removed. Intact females will experience regular heats and are prone to false pregnancies and infection of the uterus, called pyometra. Some believe that a spayed bitch is prone to obesity. While it is true that she will not be under the same hormonal influence that keeps an intact bitch in form, with regular exercise and the proper diet a spayed bitch can be kept in top shape.

The male dog's reproductive system includes the testicles, penis, and prostate gland. Intact males are prone to damage or injury of the penis or scrotum, cancer of the testes, and inflammation, enlargement, or cancer of the prostate. Once again, you and your dog will live happier, healthier lives if the dog is neutered. Neutering is the surgical removal of the testicles. The empty scrotum eventually shrinks and leaves no scar. Neutering not only guarantees the male won't develop testicular cancer or prostate problems, it also lessens a male's territoriality, making him (with proper care and training) a friendlier pet. Neutering does not significantly change a dog's temperament, however; if you have an aggressive male, neutering will not solve the problem, but combined with training, it can certainly help.

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