Some injuries cause animals to lose the ability to urinate. This is a critical, sometimes fatal problem unless the caretaker knows how to manually cause the animal to urinate. This is called 'expressing' the bladder.
Your vet will show you how to do this and it is important that you follow your vet's instructions carefully. If your vet will not show you, find another vet who will. This page is a discussion of how to express a dog or cat and is not intended to be a substitute for a veterinarian's advice.
Your pet’s bladder needs to be completely emptied at least three times a day (every 8 hours). Some injured animals dribble or leak urine during the day. Expressing will ensure the bladder is completely empty to prevent infection. It will also reduce the amount of urine soaking the skin, which can cause sores.
Some injured animals are unable to release urine even if they want to. They do not urinate unless the bladder gets so full it overflows. Expressing will ensure urine does not stay in the bladder too long and create an environment where germs can grow. Expressing also keeps the bladder from stretching out. If the bladder becomes stretched, the pet may be unable to urinate normally even after the ability to control the bladder returns.
Following injury to the spine or rear area of an animal, cystitis (infection) of the bladder can become a serious health problem. A bladder infection can cause death in a few days if not treated. Bladder care is essential for the health of your pet, whether it has had surgery or not and whether it is completely or partially disabled.
Here are the most common signs of a urinary tract infection:
Dribbling or a wet rear and wet bed
Foul odor to the urine and possibly increased licking of the genital area
Bloody or dark colored urine
Depression, loss of appetite, and a rise in temperature as infection progresses
Note that severe symptoms require immediate veterinary care.
Preventive medical treatment will help you avoid infections. Work with your veterinarian in prescribing the best medication, checking pH, culturing the urine, and teaching you how to express your pet. Urine left in the bladder can become a place where bacteria breeds.
The bladder must be manually expressed until your pet is able to fully urinate on its own. Having the bladder expressed at least three times a day is a permanent nursing care need for permanently impaired pets. The success of your nursing care program will depend on how effective you become in this care.
This page describes how to express a bladder... but you must check with your veterinarian first.
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