Pet Vet: Several possibilities can explain change in dog’s urinary habits

May 30, 2016

Mark Copperopolis has Jessie, his companion of 13 years, who has developed a problem with urination over the last few weeks. Jessie is a mixed breed female dog that Mark believes to be part German short-haired pointer and Australian shepherd. She is spayed and has had no health problems to speak of in the past.

Jessie has recently begun to leave urine puddles in areas where she had previously been lying down. She will get up in the morning with an area of urine soaking her bed and in some obvious distress as a result. Mark also thinks she might be drinking a bit more water than usual.

Mark shares a very important point in his email and that is Jessie’s distress over her inappropriate urination. She feels in human terms, embarrassed, and it is important that when this occurs, we do not scold our companions. They are already feeling bad.

Changes in urinary habits usually can reflect a change in the health of the urinary tract. The urinary tract is comprised of the kidneys, the ureters (the tubes from the kidneys to the bladder), the bladder and the urethra. There are disease conditions that can result in changes in urinary habits that are not directly associated with the urinary tract. In Jessie’s case, we need to decipher where her problem lies.

It may be as simple as age-related urinary incontinence. This condition can arise as a dog gets older and starts to lose a bit of control over the sphincter muscle that keeps urine inside the bladder. When this relaxes some, urine can leak by without the dog realizing.

There are endocrine diseases (diseases of the hormonal system) that can cause an increase in thirst and a resulting increase in urination. Remember if you increase the amount that goes in one end, you’re going to increase the amount that comes out the other. One of these diseases is diabetes. Another disease that falls into this category is Cushings disease. It is a disease process that causes the body to produce too much cortisone and one of the most common signs associated with this problem is increased thirst and urination.

Diseases directly involving the urinary tract as mentioned can also lead to changes in urinary habits and thirst. One such possibility is kidney disease. The kidneys are marvelous organs that are designed to filter certain chemicals out of the blood stream and put them into a liquid medium called urine, which is then eliminated through urination from the bladder.

This is an active process that allows some of the water involved to be saved within the body by concentrating the urine before it is released. In some cases of kidney disease, the kidneys will lose their ability to concentrate the urine and the urine volume will greatly increase. These companions will be urinating excessively and will be drinking excessively to try to keep up with the ongoing loss of water.

Infections of the urinary tract caused by a number of different types of bacteria can cause increased urinary frequency although not always an increased thirst. The irritation caused by the infection will produce a very frequent urge to urinate with little volume with each attempt.

Stones inside the bladder can cause the same irritation and also result in increased urinary frequency. There are cases of infection and of stones where these companions will drink excessively.

Now that we have covered of few of the disease possibilities that may be leading to Jessie’s urinary problem, let’s discuss the possibility of primary urinary incontinence. This condition is especially prominent in older female spayed dogs and is diagnosed by ruling out other disease possibilities. Usually, this can be done with blood work and a urinalysis, but in the case of bladder stones, radiographs and/or ultrasound may be necessary.

If there is no underlying disease associated with Jessie’s incontinence, we can label her condition primary urinary incontinence and prescribe oral medication that generally works very well in controlling this issue. As always, the key is a proper diagnosis that can then lead to proper therapy.



Associated Press