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Hello, I'm Dr Gary. I've been practicing veterinary medicine since 2007. I look forward to helping with your questions/ concerns.
I'm sorry to hear about your dog.
It sounds like he most likely has a bladder obstruction. The most common cause of this is a bladder stone that gets stuck in the urethra. These dogs will try to urinate, but nothing comes out. Sometimes they will dribble some bloody urine, but they continuously strain.
Unfortunately, there is not really anything you can do at home for this. These dogs need to be anesthetized to have the stone flushed into the bladder and then surgery to remove them. I wish there was an easier answer, but without un-obstructing them it is a life threatening condition.
I would try to apply for Care Credit at www.carecredit.com. This is a payment plan that most vets accept to be able to care for the animals.
I hope this helps, let me know if you have any other questions.
If the bladder is obstructed and he cannot urinate, yes he will die without veterinary care.
If this is something else like a urinary tract infection, then it's much less serious. It's the straining with no production that worries me that he has an obstruction.
I live in Michigan, and I don't know of any free vet services. You could try a humane society or SPCA where they get government subsidies to do low cost care. I don't know of any free, though.