Urinary obstruction can be a life threatening veterinary emergency. This is especially fatal to male cats, where the inability to urinate leads to a rapid buildup of toxic substances that if left untreated can lead to abnormal heart rhythms and death.
What is urinary obstruction?
Urinary obstructions may occur in cats, dogs, and other species such as ferrets. Although males are commonly affected, it can occur in both males and females. Caused typically by bladder stones that are lodged in the urethra, it prevents the passage of urine. It can also be caused by muscle spasms in the urethra, cystitis, mucous plugs, and even certain cancers.
What are the signs of urinary obstruction?
Signs in both dogs and cats are similar. They will often be straining to urinate only to produce only a few drops or no urinate at all. Many animals will appear to be in pain as they attempt to urinate or may vocalize this pain. In cats, it may also cause extreme lethargy, vomiting, or even collapse. Check the litter box for signs of no urine or just a few discolored drops of urine.
What to do if you suspect urinary obstruction?
Left untreated, especially in male cats, can be deemed particularly life threatening. With appropriate and rapid treatment, most pets can be saved. Because it is difficult for owners to differentiate between a urinary obstruction and the less serious condition of a bladder infection, it is advised that you get your pet to the vet as soon as possible for an examination.
How is urinary obstruction treated?
Initial treatment is done by stabilizing the pet, often through intravenous fluids and pain medications. Once stabilized, then they are sedated and a urinary catheter is placed in the urethra to unblock it. Once achieved, your pet will be treated with the appropriate fluids or other medications that are required depending on your pet’s individual condition. The next step is to review why your pet became blocked in the first place. Is it cystitis and will need medical management? Is it bladder stones that will require surgical removal? From that point on, your vet will devise a tailored treatment pertaining to your pet’s current condition.