Urinary tract infections can be common for dogs with cancer for various reasons.  Since we know that cancer doesn’t thrive in an alkaline environment, we work hard to create alkalinity in our pets’ bodies, by giving them a lot of alkaline foods & herbs.  Unfortunately, PH levels that are too alkaline can cause crystals in their urine, leading to an infection and a lot of discomfort.  On the other hand, cancer causes PH levels to be more acidic when the proper foods/supplements are not given to help with alkalinity and a PH level that is too acidic can also cause crystals to form.  Having a balance of alkaline and acid foods is the key to a healthy PH level. 

A healthy PH for a dog should be between 6 and 6.5, which is slightly more acidic than a healthy PH for humans.  It is very easy to check the PH with PH strips that you can pick up at any health food store or pharmacy.  The important thing to understand is that there are certain times of day that the PH will range to seem more acidic or alkaline, depending on mealtime, supplements, first pee in the morning or many other variables.  The key is to check it several times throughout the day, if possible, and then take an average.  The best time to check it is a couple hours before or after meals and supplements.  Since it isn’t always possible to get your pet to urinate when you need them to, the more you can test it, the better. 

A more accurate option is to test PH levels with a blood test, which is very expensive.  Nola’s vet, Dr. Baker, explained to me that it is only taking a snapshot of the blood PH at that moment and it was not the best use of our money when there were so many other things that Nola needed with our limited funds.  I found the PH strips to do a great job of showing me how different foods affected her PH and how the overall environment in her body looked, with regard to alkalinity, throughout the day.  Of course my neighbors must have thought I was crazy, following my dog around with a pee strip and putting my hand down there every time she went to the bathroom.  And expect to get peed on a lot too.  It just goes along with the program and nothing that any parent wouldn’t do for their kids, right? 

Thankfully we never had to deal with UTIs during Nola’s journey, but our other healthy dog, Suri, recently showed symptoms of a UTI, so I started her on some of the following remedies right away - her symptoms went away before it turned into anything serious.  I believe that Nola’s diet and my regular monitoring of her PH levels helped us to dodge that bullet, while fighting cancer.  The earlier you can catch a UTI, the better your chances and results will be to fight it naturally.  If the symptoms do not go away within a few days of natural treatments, then it is important to get your dog to your vet as soon as possible.  I seldom advocate antibiotics, especially for cancer dogs, but there are times when they are necessary, so that your dog is not in distress or that it doesn’t lead to something worse.  UTI’s can be very serious and must be attended to immediately.  They can also be a sign of something else transpiring from the cancer, so it is always smart to keep your vet informed of their condition and let them know what you are giving your cancer warrior at all times.  I kept a very detailed journal of Nola’s diet that I updated regularly and gave a copy to Dr. Baker every time it changed.

Some of the main symptoms of a UTI are frequent urination with very little success (dribbles instead of a steady stream of urine), urinating in odd places, excessive drinking, blood in the urine, fever, lethargy and excessive licking down there.   If you have ever experienced a UTI, you know how miserable they are and these remedies will help to treat the bacteria and soothe the uncomfortable symptoms.  By the way, they work for humans too.  I am including my favorite natural UTI remedies below, but I have also included links that have more information on UTIs and natural remedies that I recommend you read.  All of these herbs can be purchased at your local health food store.

Juniper Berries – Juniper berries work well on even a severe UTI because they increase the rate in which the kidneys filter out impurities and increase urine production.  They are safe for dogs and cats when used in moderation.  You can use the berries to make a tea, which is how I use them, or you can get a certified food grade juniper berry essential oil and dilute it with water.  I followed the directions for making the tea and dosing my dogs per Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer

(20) berries for every cup of water.  Steep in a tea pot or other pot with a lid and only steep for 5 to 7 minutes to preserve the volatile oils needed from the berries.  I use (1) to (2) Tbs of the tea in their food per day for no longer than four weeks for a medium to large size dog.  Small dogs should have only (1) Tbs per day.

According to my Energetics of Herbs chart for Traditional Chinese Medicine that I purchased from Dr. Baker, Juniper takes the path through the kidneys and bladder, which confirms the theory that it is a great option to cure a urinary tract infection.

Uva Ursi – According to Modern Dog Magazine by Dr. Loridawn Gordon, a naturopathic veterinarian, “Uva Ursi leaf is one of the most powerful natural astringents available. Holistic veterinarians use it to attack a variety of pathogens that are often the cause of UTIs. It can stop bleeding and reduce the inflammation associated with these infections.”

The article in Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer also recommends the Uva Ursi as a good remedy for UTI, so I followed their dosing recommendations, which are similar to the Juniper Berry, other than you do NOT want to use this longer than THREE DAYS at a time.  Like the Juniper Berries, I used the Uva Ursi leaves to steep and make a tea.  You can and should steep the Uva Ursi leaves longer than the Juniper Berries - per the directions you are to steep until the tea is room temperature. 

Goldenseal - Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer recommends Goldenseal because it is antibacterial and antifungal.  According to my Energetics of Herbs chart for TCM, Goldenseal takes the path through the bladder and it is a cooling herb, therefore confirming that it is another great option for a UTI.  You can use this in a dry herb form or tincture, so you should follow the dosage recommendations on the bottles and confirm them with your vet.  Goldenseal should not be used on small puppies and kittens or pregnant or lactating dogs or cats.

Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar – Is there anything that ACV doesn’t cure? It truly is nature’s wonder drug and typically my first choice for everything.  You should already have this as a staple in your cancer warrior’s diet, to aid in alkalinity and inflammation in the body.  If your pet’s UTI is caused from over alkalinity, however, then you may want to back off of it for a couple days and try the other remedies first.  ACV has great antibacterial properties and can be used diluted in water to wash the exterior of the urinary tract, which is also important to keep clean during a UTI.

Cranberry or Blueberry -  Quoted from Modern Dog Magazine, “Cranberry or Blueberry will prevent the bacteria from attaching to the lining of the urinary tract and is great for the prevention of recurrent infections.

Parsley - Dr. Loridawn Gordon also mentions in Modern Dog Magazine, “Parsley leaf is an effective diuretic that can aid in the elimination of waste and, in addition to being highly nutritious, parsley leaves have antiseptic qualities that are great for treating urinary tract infections.” 

Like ACV, Parsley should already be a part of your cancer dog’s regular diet because it has great cancer fighting properties and it helps with alkalinity.  According to my Energetics of Herbs chart for TCM, parsley takes the path through the bladder and kidneys, confirming that it is another great option for a UTI.

There are a lot of natural products on the market that combine several herbs, including the ones that I have listed above, as well as others that have been proven to successfully treat urinary tract infections.  Since I have not used any of them, I have chosen to not include information on them, but with a little research you can quickly find a lot of resources from which to choose.  As I have mentioned before, don’t fall into the trap of buying the “next best thing” – when in doubt, stick to the basic ingredients.  Your holistic vet should be able to recommend their favorite remedies as well.