Straining to Urinate (Stranguria) in Dogs

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Last updated on
2 min read

Key takeaways

Straining to urinate (stranguria) in dogs is a serious symptom indicating some degree of disruption of urine flow. Dogs will posture to urinate, with visible pushing. 

  • Straining may be productive or unproductive, and may be consistent or intermittent
  • Urine character may be normal or bloody
  • Common causes are bacterial urinary tract infections, urolithiasis (stones in the urinary tract) and, in male dogs, prostate disease, but the root cause varies widely
  • Diagnosis begins with urinalysis/urine culture and diagnostic imaging and may progress to biopsies
  • Treatment varies depending on the underlying cause and may range from antibiotics to surgery
  • Prognosis is widely variable with underlying cause
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A closer look: Straining to Urinate (Stranguria) in Dogs

There is variation in stranguria in terms of frequency and whether consistent or intermittent, productive or unproductive. Although variation does not always correlate with the severity of disease, unproductive urination is always an emergency, regardless of the underlying cause.

Possible causes

Risk factors

Straining to urinate is a fairly common, yet serious symptom in dogs.** Any time dogs are having difficulty passing urine, it is a medical emergency.** Unproductive straining is particularly life-threatening. It is often difficult to see whether straining is productive or not, so seeking veterinary care is recommended at any sign of stranguria.

Testing and diagnosis

Diagnostic tools include

  • Physical exam
  • Blood work
  • Urinalysis/urine culture
  • Diagnostic imaging
  • Biopsy

Treatment is dependent on cause. For example, a bacterial urinary tract infection may only require antibiotics, while other causes may warrant surgery, and certain cancers may be incurable.

Similar symptoms

Associated symptoms

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