Getting to the root cause of pet’s increased drinking and urinating

Normall Veterinary Tract

When an owner asks why a pet is constantly drinking water and urinating more frequently, veterinarian Robert Runde explains the potential conditions that could lead to the symptoms in dogs and cats, discusses tests used to help discern the cause and points out the health consequences in pets who are not diagnosed and treated. Dr. Runde emphasizes the importance of promptly seeing a veterinarian for any animal whose drinking and urinating habits have increased. (Fort Pierce, Fla.)

Question:    Why is my dog drinking and urinating more?  Is this normal? What is the quickest way to find out the causes?

Answer:   One of the most common owner complaints in veterinary medicine for both cats and dogs is for increased drinking and urination. There are a plethora of causes, but if your animal shows these clinical signs a timely appointment with your veterinarian is warranted. You may notice that your pet has increased frequency and volume of drinking/urination, is having “accidents” in the house, is showing signs of urinary incontinence (waking up in a pool of urine, dribbling urine while walking around), or urinating in unusual places.

Some of the common causes of increased drinking and urination in dogs are diabetes mellitus, kidney disease, infection in the urinary tract, excessive adrenal hormone production, pyometra (infection of the uterus), and liver disease. In cats, the most common causes of increased drinking and urination differ slightly than of those in dogs, and include kidney disease, diabetes mellitus, hyperthyroidism, and liver disease. Most of these potentially life-threatening conditions can be quickly ruled out through accurate history taking, a thorough physical examination, and simple blood and urine tests. In some cases additional diagnostics may need to be performed. These may include X-rays of the chest and abdomen, cultures and hormonal blood tests. Depending on the results of the diagnostics referral to an iternal mdicine specialist may be helpful as more advanced diagnostics/treatments may be required. These could include ultrasound, Xrays with contrast, endoscopy, MRI and hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

For example, if diabetes mellitus is left untreated, severe metabolic disturbance (Ketoacidosis) will develop. This is a life-hreatening condition requiring 24-our intensive care.

An infected uterus occurring in female intact dogs requires an emergency surgery. If not addressed promptly, this condition may prove fatal.

Untreated hyperthyroidism in cats can result in severe weight loss, chronic diarrhea/vomiting and significant heart disease. Hyperthyroidism may be managed medically, or more definitively treated with radioactive iodine (I-131) therapy.

There are a variety of liver conditions often require more advanced diagnostics such as ultrasound, full thickness biopsies, or a portogram (videofluoroscopy). Untreated liver diseases may progress to cirrhosis (irreversible scarring of the liver).

Hyperadrenocorticism is a condition of excessive adrenal hormone production. Although a diagnosis in most cases is relatively easy to obtain, some specific cases require further diagnostics such as an abdominal ultrasound to evaluate the adrenal glands and liver, and an MRI to evaluate the pituitary region of the brain.

Prompt identification of the cause of increased drinking/urination leads to a better chance of successful outcome.  If you notice any increased drinking and/or urination in your pet please contact your primary care veterinarian immediately.

Robert Runde, VMD

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