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Trouble urinating.

Species: Dog
Breed: Belgian Malinois/Ger
Age: 8-11 years
For about a week I have noticed my aging male neutered dog having a hard time peeing. Let me clarify, he CAN pee, but it takes a long time, and sort of comes in spurts, or sometimes even sprays out (like if you hold your thumb over the end of a hose). He is drinking a ton more than he usually does. He has had problems in the past with Pancreatitis, and was sick in May and something (no idea what it was called, but would remember if I heard it again) was elevated and the vet thought it MAY be a recurrence. Having him on rice and boiled ground beef for a few days helped and he was mostly back to normal. He hasn't come back to his normal activity level though, and now this thing with his pee. He is waking me up at 3 and 4 am, after having been out at midnight. Today I noticed that the end of his penis didn't retract right away and seemed very dark, and he has some stuff oozing out...yellowish thick stuff. He seems very lethargic, and like he has aged a lot in the last few months since he was sick back in May. Please help. My husband is on a deployment for the next 3 months, and I have 2 young children here, and ZERO funds to pay for the vet bill :(

Thank you,

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Hi Angela,

Unfortunately this sounds like a situation that does need veterinary care and hopefully soon.

If your dog is having trouble urinating then there has to be a medical reason for this to happen.

The best case scenario is that this is a simple urinary tract infection. We don't know why dogs get them, but they can be very common. The way to tell is to have your vet do a urinalysis (some tests on his urine) to determine if there is bacteria present. If this is the case then the vet will prescribe oral antibiotic medication for him to take. There is no at-home treatment that is going to work if this is a urinary tract infection.

It is also possible that there is something obstructing his urethra (which is where the urine flows out of the penis.) It could be that he has a bladder stone that has travelled down into the urethra and is now stuck. Sometimes the vet can fix this by putting a catheter in the urethra and pushing the stone back into the bladder. They would then put the dog on a special food to dissolve the stone. However, some stones can't be dissolved and need to be removed with surgery.

Another possible cause for a blockage would be some type of tumor that is pressing on the urethra. This is not as common.

If Schafer wasn't neutered I would be worried about a prostate problem. While we can see prostate cancers in neutered dogs, prostate problems are not terribly common in a neutered dog.

I am a little bit concerned as well by the fact that Schafer is drinking a lot more. This makes me wonder if the problem is originating in the kidneys. He could have kidney stones that have made their way through the bladder and into the urethra. Or, this could be a kidney infection. A cancer affecting the kidneys is a possibility as well although not as common.

I really feel for you in your financial situation but there is really nothing that you can do at home for Schafer. If there is a blockage in his urethra it is a partial blockage now because he is able to still get some urine out. But, if it becomes a full blockage this is life threatening...and in either case it is very uncomfortable. It really does sound like he needs to see a vet as soon as possible.

I'm not sure if it helps but you may get some help by reading this post about help with veterinary bills.

Please let me know if you have more questions!

I hope he is ok!

Dr. Marie

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Customer reply:

Thank you for getting back to me so quickly. I fear it may be something more serious than an infection. He is panting a lot as well, but we have been having a horrible heat wave this summer up here in Ottawa! We do have central air, and keep it comfortable (not cold). I forgot to mention that he seems to have issues doing "#2" as well. He walks, squats, does nothing, walks, squats, nothing, and finally on the 3rd or 4th attempt he manages to go. Sometimes it is runny, sometimes normal, but its like he has a hard time getting it to the spot it needs to be to actually come out.

We have both our dogs on Eukanuba German Shepherd, and it does make him a little constipated, so we mix 2 tbs of pumpkin in with it. Schafer weighs about 85lbs. We also have another purebred Shepherd who has what the vet has called "Dog Colitis", and he also requires the pumpkin even with that food, to keep his stools firm. He is a recent rescue, and was only 68lbs when we got him!! He is now up to 80, and is doing is Schafer I am most worried about... He sleeps a LOT. He is 8 years old this month (but he seems like a really old 8, does that make sense?)We have had him since he was 8 weeks old. I have made an appointment for him for this Saturday, and my vet will give me an estimate before they do any tests, but they sadly, do not have a payment plan...

Thank you again for listening. I think I just needed someone else to say GO and that I am not just overreacting.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh, the poor guy, it seems like he is very uncomfortable.

This is a coincidence, but did you know that I am in Ottawa too? (assuming you are in Ottawa, Canada.) Unfortunately though I am about to have a baby in a few weeks and so I am not actually working right now.

You are right - you will not find a vet in Ottawa who will do a payment plan. This is terribly unfortunate but the reason is that too many dishonest people have ruined it for all of the good folks out there. You may want to look into Medicard. This is a financing company that will allow you to make payments on veterinary bills. We have a number of clients that use them.

If you are looking for a good clinic (although really, all of the clinics in Ottawa are great), I practice at Beechwood Animal Hospital. The prices there are very reasonable.

I really hope everything is ok.

Dr. Marie.

Customer reply:

That IS a coincidence! HAHA! The vet mentioned something about a company they deal with that we can finance thru. We use Alta Vista. We have only been in Ottawa for a year, and have found their services (Although surely the MOST expensive in Ottawa) to be very thorough.

Good luck with your baby, and thank you again for the advice. I think I am just worried about making a "one way" trip, while my husband is away :(

I just looked up your clinic, and it isn't too far away. I may look into them after Saturday, depending on how much Alta Vista quotes me.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

You're right, Alta Vista is a FANTASTIC veterinary clinic. It is without a doubt one of the most pricey though. I send clients there for tricky things like oncology referrals and MRI's and stuff like that. If cost is a concern then it's definitely not my first choice.

Regardless, I hope you get good news.

Dr. Marie.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.