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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Urinary Blockage View In Dogs

First Aid Condition

First aid health condition




Condition Overview

Imagine that you have finished a giant drink while driving on the interstate, then notice that the rest stop is 50 miles away. Multiply your discomfort by 10, and you will understand how a blocked dog or cat feels.


Cats and dogs who are blocked spend lots of time in the litter box or yard straining and crying as they try to pass urine but can't. Cats typically squat right in front of you or try to go in the sink as a way to express their distress. Dogs may adopt an awkward straddle-legged posture, and the urine stream may dribble, start and stop, or be non existent. Pets may lick themselves, and any urine they manage to squeeze out may be bloody.

Without prompt medical attention, the pet acts depressed, stops eating, begins to vomit, and can fall into a coma and die.


The female urethra leads directly from the bladder to the outside of the body and is pretty wide the entire way, so female pets almost never get blocked. The urethra in males, however, narrows by half in male cats as it enters the penis, and a male dog's urethra must pass through a tiny V-shaped opening in the bone called the os penis before reaching the outside. These anatomical differences mean that male dogs and cats most commonly experience urinary blockage.


Preliminary diagnosis can be made by evaluating symptoms.


Urinary blockage is a life threatening emergency, and although first aid can offer temporary relief to some cats, partial or complete urinary blockage requires immediate medical help.

For Cats Only

  1. Restrain your cat - Cats with urinary blockage are very tender and sore and generally won't take kindly to having their areas examined. You must protect yourself by restraining your cat before you can help him, and you will need someone to help you.

    Firmly grasp the loose skin at the back of his neck with one hand, capture both rear feet with the other, and gently stretch him out on his side on a table. Alternatively, you can use a pillowcase and place him in head first, with just his tail exposed. If your cat struggles excessively or becomes too upset, don't waste your time at home, go immediately to the veterinarian.
  2. Prepare the area - Make sure that your cat is on a towel or positioned with his tail toward some sort of container or a sink to catch any urine. Be aware that it can be so bloody that it looks like wine, and it can stain clothing. Avoid putting pressure on your cat's abdomen to express the bladder, or you may accidentally rupture (burst) it like a balloon. If you are successful in dislodging the blockage, the cat will spontaneously urinate without any encouragement.
  3. Give a gentle massage - Some cats with blockage have only a small bit of debris stuck at the end of the urethra, right where the urine exits. In these cases, gentle massage of the tissue at the end of the penis may be enough to loosen the debris and unblock your cat, but you should still have the vet examine him.

    An obstructed male cat often protrudes his penis, If he doesn't, you can express the organ by gently pressing the tissue directly above the urethral opening. If there is crystallized or mucous debris stuck to the end of the penis, soak a soft cloth or gauze pad in warm water, place it on the tip, and gently soak the debris away.

    Even if the plug isn't visible on the outside, it may be stuck near the opening on the inside. If you have them, use disposable medical gloves and gently roll the penis between your finger and thumb to crush the debris and open the passageway so that the material can be expelled.


Cats who have suffered a bout of urinary blockage often have recurring problems, but one kind of litter offers an early warning system for detecting problems before they turn deadly. Health Meter cat litter works like conventional cat litters, and it also changes color depending on which type of bladder issue the cat is currently experiencing. Health meter cat litter is available at Petsmart.


Dogs often require surgery to remove the stones that cause the blockage. Keep the incision clean ans wipe away any drainage as needed with a sterile gauze pad dipped in warm water.

Blockage from urinary tract infections happens especially in dogs, and they may develop infection stones. Acidifying the urine can prevent the most common kind of crystals that cause blockages in cats. Cranberries help prevent bacteria from sticking to the lining of the bladder and also help acidify the urine, so they can be a helpful part of follow up care for both dogs and cats.

Most pets don't care for the taste of cranberry juice, and it would take a large volume of juice to help prevent the problem. Instead, give a cranberry supplement like CranActin, available at health food stores.

Sometimes, in order to flush out all the debris that created the blockage, the pet is anesthetized so that a soft catheter can be placed into the urethra, and it may be temporarily sutured in place to keep the urine flow moving. Usually, the pet remains in the hospital during this time, but if he comes ho,e with the catheter still in place, you will need to monitor it and be sure that your pet doesn't pull it out. A cone shaped collar will keep him from bothering it.

More than 50% of cats who have urinary tract problems relapse one or more times. Pets often have chronic problems with the condition, and without specific preventive home treatment, the blockage will recur. One of the best preventives is to get your pet to drink more. A large amount of water dilutes the urine, which helps flush the minerals and mucous substances out of the bladder and urethra before they can develop into stones and plugs.

Your veterinarian may recommend a specific therapeutic diet that helps dissolve stones and crystals that remain in the urinary tract. Struvite, the most common kind of stones, won't form in acidic urine. These diets help acidify the urine to prevent stone or crystal formation. Once the foreign material has been cleared, your pet may need to eat a preventive diet for the remainder of his life. There are a number of commercial foods that will work well, but the kind of stones you pet has will determine which diet will work best, so check with your vet.

Show Sources & Contributors +


The First Aid Companion for Dogs And Cats

Publisher: Rodale Inc, 2001

Website: http://www.rodalebooks.com/

Authors: Amy D. Shojai, Shane Bateman DVM

1 Comment For "Urinary Blockage"



I need help, I do not have any money to take him to the vet he needs help what can I do at home he has a blockage he's dropping a little bit but what can I do to unblock them

December 13, 2012 at 2:13PM  Sign In or Join to Comment