Overview of Uroabdomen (Ruptured Urinary Tract) in Dogs
The normal urinary tract is composed of two kidneys, two ureters, a urinary bladder and a urethra. As blood flows through the kidneys, waste products are removed and pass through thin tubes called ureters into the bladder. The urinary bladder is a reservoir for these waste products.
When the bladder is sufficiently full, there is an urge to urinate and the urine is voluntarily released from the bladder, through the urethra and out the body. Any damage of the urinary tract can lead to leakage of urine outside of the urinary tract, resulting in urine accumulation within the abdomen. This is referred to as uroabdomen or uroperitoneum.
A uroabdomen is a life threatening condition. Accumulation of urine in the abdomen creates serious disturbances in electrolytes such as potassium, which has adverse effects on the heart. Waste products that normally are cleared by the kidneys and eliminated in the urine are retained within the abdomen causing serious elevations in kidney values. Additionally, irritation and inflammation of the lining of the abdomen (peritonitis) results. If a urinary tract infection was present at the time of urine leakage, then septic peritonitis may result.
Uroabdomen can result from various causes, but the most common is related to trauma. Damage to the kidney, ureter, bladder, or urethra may cause urine to leak into the abdomen. Some common forms of trauma that can result in a disruption of the urinary tract include:
Various diseases can also lead to disruption of the urinary tract and subsequent uroabdomen. Some of these include:
Unsupervised outdoor animals are at an increased risk for traumatic injuries due to automobiles, malicious individuals or animal attacks. This results in an increased risk of developing uroabdomen.
What to Watch For
Diagnosis of Uroabdomen in Dogs
As with any illness, a medical history is taken and a thorough physical examination is performed. Your veterinarian will likely ask how long the dog has been ill, if there is any possibility of trauma, and about your dogs urination habits. The physical examination will concentrate on the abdomen and rear areas of the dog. Normal urination does not mean the dog does not have a ruptured bladder. Small bladder tears can cause leakage of urine into the abdomen but the bladder can still fill and urine can be voided.
Various tests may be necessary to determine if there is fluid in the abdomen, what type of fluid is present and the cause of the fluid accumulation.