• Open Access

Prevalence of Urinary Tract Infection in Dogs after Surgery for Thoracolumbar Intervertebral Disc Extrusion


  • This work was completed at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Raleigh, NC. The data were presented as an abstract at the ACVIM Forum, Seattle, 2007.

Corresponding author: Natasha Olby, College of Veterinary Medicine, NCSU, 4700 Hillsborough St, Raleigh, NC 27606; e-mail: natasha_olby@ncsu.edu.


Background: Urinary tract infection (UTI) is a common complication in people with spinal cord injury (SCI). Dogs with acute intervertebral disc extrusion (IVDE) have similar risk factors for UTI when compared with human SCI patients and have a high perioperative prevalence of UTI.

Objectives: Determine the prevalence of UTI in dogs for 3 months after surgery for thoracolumbar IVDE and identify risk factors for development of UTI.

Animals: Twenty-five dogs treated surgically for 26 acute disc extrusions.

Methods: Prospective study. Urinalysis and urine culture were performed perioperatively. At home, owners monitored urine with dipsticks every 48 hours for 1 month then once a week until 3 months. Dogs returned for assessment of motor function, urinalysis, and urine culture at 1 and 3 months after surgery. Presence of UTI over the 3-month period was correlated to potential risk factors.

Results: Ten dogs (38%) developed 12 UTIs over the 3-month period, with the majority occurring between weeks 1 and 6; 60% of the UTIs were occult. Hematuria in the absence of pyuria or UTI was a common finding in the perioperative period. Sex, breed, and ambulatory status influenced the risk of developing a UTI.

Conclusions and Clinical Importance: There is a high prevalence of UTIs, many of which are occult, in the 3 months after surgery for thoracolumbar IVDE. These dogs should be routinely monitored for UTI with urine culture regardless of urinalysis results.