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Urine - Odd Color

Boxer Dog Odd, Discolored Urine

Overview

Most owners don't think twice about their Boxer's urine unless it's a puppy that's being house trained or an older dog that's marking. However, when urine is an odd color this usually gets an owner's attention. The color of a dog's urine is definitely a marker for certain health issues or conditions and should not be ignored. 

This section is going to cover:
  • The color of healthy urine
  • What it means if a Boxer dog has colored urine including bright or dark yellow, very light yellow to clear, red, brown or cloudy
  • If blood is in the urine
  • When colored pee is combined with a strange, odd smell

Healthy Colored Urine for Boxer Dogs

When a Boxer puppy or older dog is properly hydrated and healthy, his/her urine should be a very light yellow fluid with the consistency of water. 

The reason that pee is colored at all is due to a substance called urobilinogen . Some of this is delivered to the large intestines where it converts to stercobilin which is responsible for making stools a brown color. Some of it is also absorbed into the bloodstream; when it mixes with oxygen it turns into urobilin. 

The urobilin ends up in the kidneys. The kidneys work to filter toxins out of the body. Urine is produced in the kidneys where water, the urobilin that gives it the yellow color and waste products are then delivered through the ureters (thin tubes) that bring it to the bladder and finally the urethra (the small hole that humans and dogs alike pee from). 

With healthy dogs, urine will be 95% water and 5% waste products. Of that 5%, there are actually minute traces of over 1000 compounds. Some are from the body itself (calcium, potassium, nitrogen, uric acid, inorganic salts, ammonia, and blood pigments among others) and some are from bacteria. 

When a Boxer dog has strange colored urine, this can mean one of two things: 1) there is a high concentration of urobilin to water ratio or 2) there is an element in the urine that is normally not present.

If a Boxer Dog Has Dark Yellow Urine 

As we mentioned above, it is the urobilin compound that is responsible for making pee yellow. If a Boxer dog is dehydrated, there will be a higher concentration of urobilin along with what water is in the kidneys. 

As this liquid travels to the bladder and is released, it will then be a very dark yellow color that some describe as amber or even light orange. 

Even if a Boxer laps at his water throughout the day or drinks up well after a walk, it's easy for a dog to be slightly dehydrated. Just a 1 to 5% decrease in body fluid is a mild dehydration that can cause urine to be dark. The puppy or dog may or may not have other symptoms such as acting tired, slightly sunken in eyes, bad breath, constipation and/or trouble focusing. 

In regard to how much water a Boxer dog needs, this does vary quite a bit depending on activity level and air temperature. However, the general guideline is 1.62 cups for each 10 pounds of body weight. This amount can be up to 30% more if the dog is very active or on hot summer days when he loses a lot of perspiration via panting. 

If there are no other signs such as painful urination or an odd smell, if a Boxer dog has very dark yellow urine this can often be resolve by encouraging the consumption of more water. 

While most dogs will not drink on cue making sure that the bowl is cleaned each day, ensuring that water is fresh and cool and offering fruit hat is high in water content (fresh or frozen watermelon or strawberries have over 90% water and mango, oranges and pear slices have over 80% water) can help keep your Boxer hydrated. It can also help to bring water with you when you take your Boxer out for a walk or to the park instead of assuming he will drink enough upon returning home.  

If a Boxer Dog Has Brown Urine

When a Boxer's urine is brown this can point to one of several things. 

1) In many cases, this is a matter of the dog needing more water since very dark yellow can tend to appear to be brown or in some cases of a more moderate dehydration the concentration of urobilin can be so high that it causes a brown tint. 

2) In some cases, brown pee can develop in the aftermath of intense stress in which muscles were employed (i.e. if a dog has separation anxiety and had an episode of tensing up quite severely as he paced and barked). If a dog endures a bout of high anxiety, a protein called myoglobin can be released from the muscles into the bloodstream. The myoglobin can then discolor the urine. 

3) The same element of myoglobin mentioned above can be released if muscles are damaged. This could happen in the case of extreme overexertion during a too-high bout of exercise or running. 

In both cases of there being enough muscle damage to cause urine to be brown, a checkup at the veterinarian's is needed to access the potential level of muscle tears.

4) Bilirubin, which is a yellow-brown substance produced by the liver may be present in the urine which points to possible impaired liver function. 

5) Dried, old blood can cause a dog's pee to be brown and this can be due to a previous bladder or kidney infection or stones. In rare cases, this could be due to a tumor. 

If a Boxer Dog Has Orange Urine

This is very similar to brown, as the 2 most common causes are lack of fluids or traces of bilirubin (see 'brown urine' above). However in some cases (though rare) if a Boxer dog eats a large amount of carrots (which in moderate amounts are a very healthy addition to a dog's overall diet) the carotene found in this vegetable can cause a temporary discoloration to the urine. 

This could hypothetically happen if a dog got into a bag of carrots without an owner's knowledge or if an owner got a bit zealous when adding this veggie to the dog's food. 

If a Boxer dog did eat a lot of carrots to the point of his urine turning orange, it should be noted that one mishap is usually nothing to be concerned about however several months of a diet too high in carotene (Vitamin A) can cause toxicity as well as the there being too much fiber in the diet which could cause digestive issues. 

If a Boxer dog Has Blood in the Urine 

The medical term for blood in the urine is Hematuria. This is evident by either pink or red tinged pee.   

With un-spayed female puppies and dogs, this may just be a matter of the heat cycle. While blood exits from the vagina and urine exits from the urethra, both are located very close to each other. If blood clotted a bit near the opening or during a very heavy heat cycle, some blood may mix with the urine as it passes out. 

With this said, for both male and female Boxer dogs, there are a slew of possible health issues that would cause blood to be present in the urine. For this reason, it will be important to bring your Boxer to the veterinarian if you notice that the pee is pink or red. Medical conditions include but are not limited to:
  • Blood clotting issues
  • Low platelets count (the medical term is thrombocytopenia and there may or may not be other symptoms including fever, coughing, nasal mucus and/or lethargy) 
  • Upper urinary tract infection or inflammation
  • Kidney issues (disease, trauma, stones or abnormal tissue growth)
  • Bladder issues (infection or stones)
  • Cancer
A diagnosis will be made through a variety of tests including a complete physical, CBC (complete blood count), urinalysis and possibly ultrasounds or x-rays. Females will often have a vaginoscopy, which is an examination of the vagina using a tool called a cystoscope. Both male and female Boxer dogs may have a Cystoscopy, in which an endoscope (small flexible tube) is inserted into the bladder via the urethra; typically the dog will be sedated for this procedure. 

If a Boxer Dog has Clear Pee 

If a puppy or dog has a lot of water in his bladder this will lower the concentration of urobilin, which is responsible for turning urine yellow; and therefore the pee may appear to have no color at all. 

Just one episode of clear colored urine is usually nothing to be concerned about since this may simply be due to ingesting a lot of water after a bout of exercise or after being outside in hot weather. 

However, the Boxer breed is prone to bloat and while many equate this to rapidly ingesting food, it can also be caused by drinking too much, too quickly. 

For this reason, if a Boxer consistently has clear urine without any yellow in it at all, it may be time to take steps to regulate how much water is ingested at one time. This can be done by using a slow-feeder bowl for water and also by encouraging water consumption throughout the day so that his requirements are being met over a longer duration of time. 

With this said, some kidney conditions can interfere with urine concentration. If a Boxer shows any signs of a health condition such as excessive thirst (more on this ahead) or if the urine continues to be without color even after making the changes above, you will want to bring this to the attention of your dog's veterinarian. 

If a Boxer dog Has Cloudy Urine 

If a Boxer's urine is non-transparent and moderately to severely opaque, this is often the sign of a health issue. Possible reasons include:
  • Bladder infection (this is the most common cause)
  • Bladder stones
  • Weak bladder muscles (there will be signs of incontinence, i.e. pee will dribble out and/or house training accidents) 
  • Prostrate disease
  • Proteinuria - A condition that causes high levels of protein to be present in the body.  
  • Cancer

If a Boxer Dog's Urine Has an Odd Smell and Color

It is not uncommon for an owner to first notice an odd smell coming from a Boxer dog's pee and then upon taking a closer look, will notice that the color is off as well. 

While a lack of proper hydration can cause the pee to be both very dark and have a particularly strong odor, a strange musty or acidic smell most often points to a bladder infection or urinary tract infection. While UTI's are more common with female dogs, males can develop this as well. This must be properly diagnosed by the vet and then treated with a course of antibiotics, typically given for 7 and 14 days.

If a Boxer Dog Has Frothy Urine

Urine is normally similar to water in the fact that while it does contain some oxygen it does not have obvious bubbles. If a Boxer is peeing out urine that is very foamy, there are several possible reasons:

1) It may simply be due to the speed of the urine as it hits the ground. If a dog holds his bladder until it is full, he/she may release the urine with so much force that it foams as it makes contact, particularly with a hard surface.

2) Lack of fluids can cause foamy urine; though it will usually be a dark color as well. 

3) Too much protein can cause this. High levels of protein can be due to an unbalanced diet; however it can also point to kidney issues.  

4) It may also be a sign of infection; most often a UTI. 

Red Flags

If your Boxer's pee is an odd color very randomly, this is usually nothing to be concerned about. However, if it is dark yellow and steps to hydrate your dog do not resolve the issue, if it is any other odd color and/or if the following signs are present, this warrants a checkup with the veterinarian:
  • Excessive licking of the genital area
  • Straining when urinating
  • Excessive thirst/ lack of thirst
  • An odd odor
  • Lethargy
  • Changes in appetite
  • Incontinence
  • Urine comes out in small dribbles
  • Bloated stomach 

Summary

While it's normal to not really pay attention to our dogs when they are peeing, since the majority of instances of dark urine are due to a dog not meeting his water requirements and may be due to a serious health issue, owners are encouraged to routinely take note of the color of their Boxer's urine so that steps can be taken to keep the puppy or dog well hydrated and healthy… and be taken in for a vet visit if needed.  
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