The common way to diagnose a urinary tract infection is to look for blood in the urine. Sometimes the blood isn’t so obvious that the pet owner sees it, but a veterinarian can detect the presence of blood with a urinalysis strip. The assumption is if blood is present in the urine, then there is a urinary tract infection – a bladder infection.

There are several other causes of blood in the urine. Other causes of blood in the urine include kidney damage, bladder cancer, problems in the outer genitalia, and stress. Cats are especially prone to having blood in their urine when they become stressed.

Many veterinarians will run a culture and sensitivity on urine containing blood to look for bacteria and determine what antibiotics are best to treat that bacteria. There are a couple of problems with this testing method. First, blood has antibacterial properties, so if there are low levels of bacteria in a urine sample, longer the sample sits, the more likely the blood will kill bacteria present in the sample. Second, it depends on how the urine was obtained. Free catch urine samples collect all of the cells between the bladder and the opening to the urethra – anything along the way will be dragged into the urine sample and may falsely increase the concentration of bacteria.

Regardless of how the urine sample was obtained, repeated bladder infections treated repeatedly with antibiotics lead to resistant bacteria, not only in the urinary tract, but also the intestinal tract and the rest of the body. Bacteria are part of the body’s natural defense mechanism – when the bacteria are the beneficials that aid health. Furthermore, there are those patients with urine tract infections that do not respond to the antibiotics prescribed. It’s not necessarily because the wrong antibiotic was prescribed, it’s more an antibiotic was prescribed when the underlying issue of imbalance in the body was not addressed.

Bacterial homeostasis means supporting the beneficial bacteria of the body – antibiotics do not do this. Herbal medications can often work to treat blood in the urine, regardless of whether or not bacteria are detected, without upsetting the normal microflora of the rest of the body. There are those times when acute infections respond best to conventional, western antibiotics/therapeutics, but in the case of chronic bladder infections, or blood in the urine without bacteria, herbs can be the answer for dogs and cats.

Si Miao San can help in cases with white blood cells in the urine – this is due to Damp Heat in the Lower Burner. Red Front Door is a formula that works well for recurrent cases with blood in the urine. And Eight Righteous formula can help patients with recurrent infections as well. Of course, there are many other herbal formulas that can help recurrent UTIs, blood in the urine, and sterile cystitis (inflammation of the bladder). A well formulated probiotic that does not contain animal digest or fillers can also help restore some bacterial balance in the body.

Ask your integrative, TCVM trained veterinarian what formula is best for your pet.

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