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Drugs Used to Treat Kidney and Urinary Tract Disorders


Patricia M. Dowling

, DVM, MSc, DACVIM, DACVCP, Department of Veterinary Biomedical Sciences, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan

Reviewed/Revised Jul 2011 | Modified Nov 2022
Topic Resources

Drugs used to treat urinary disorders include antibiotics and antifungal medications for infections, diuretics for kidney failure, and a variety of other drugs for several other disorders.


Antibiotic drugs are the basis of urinary tract infection treatment. Antibiotic treatment involves determining the type of bacteria present and choosing the appropriate drug. There are many types of antibiotics; your veterinarian will prescribe one that is excreted in an active form in the urine and is known to be effective against the particular bacteria present.

Many animals with recurrent urinary tract infections are treated with repeated courses of antibiotics. However, if the underlying cause of the infection is not found, the repeated courses of antibiotics can do more harm than good. Inappropriate treatment with the wrong antibiotic can cause bacteria to become resistant ( see Guidelines for the Use of Antibiotic Drugs Guidelines for the Use of Antibiotic Drugs Antibiotic drugs are commonly used in veterinary medicine to treat infectious diseases that are caused by bacteria and certain other microorganisms. There are many different classes of antibiotics... read more ). Chronic urinary tract infections from highly resistant bacteria are very hard to treat.

If episodes occur more than once or twice yearly, and the causes of the urinary tract infections cannot be found or corrected, longterm low-dose treatment with oral antibiotics may be necessary to prevent new episodes.

Antifungal Drugs

Although uncommon, fungal urinary tract infections occur in dogs and cats. Treatment involves removing any predisposing factors (excessive corticosteroids, urinary catheters) and giving antifungal drugs, with or without urinary alkalinization ( see Controlling Urine pH Controlling Urine pH Controlling Urine pH ).

Controlling Urine pH

pH is the measure of how acidic or alkaline (basic) a substance is. Urine with abnormally high or low pH can contribute to the formation of certain types of kidney or bladder stones. In dogs, urine pH should be between 7 and 7.5. In cats, it should be between 6.3 and 6.6. Potassium citrate can be used to raise the pH, making it more alkaline (basic). Ammonium chloride or DL‑methionine can be used to lower the pH, making it more acidic.

Cystine-binding Agents

Cystinuria, with the formation of cystine kidney stones, is caused by an inherited disorder. Cystine kidney stones are dissolved with changes in the diet, urinary alkalinization or neutralization, and the use of cystine-binding agents. Once stones are dissolved, changes in the diet can help prevent them from coming back.


Diuretics are used to remove excess water from animals with swelling or volume overload, such as that which occurs with kidney failure. There are several classes of diuretics, grouped by the way they act in the body.

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