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Ask Dr. Dog: Why is My Dog Drinking and Urinating So Much?

It’s summertime and your dog seems to be drinking more water than usual. This probably is a normal response to the warmer weather, but there could be other factors at play. Providing enough water for your dog is always important, but as the summer season heats up and you and your dog are more active staying hydrated is even more vital.

But are you noticing a trend of increased thirst and urination? Are you filling up the water bowl much more than usual or noticing your dog seeking out different water sources? Does your dog ask to go out to urinate all the time or is she having accidents in the house when he never has before? These may be signs of underlying problems so it’s time to visit your veterinarian to make sure.

The term polydipsia refers to excessive thirst, and the increase in water drinking leads to polyuria or increased urination. Polyuria and polydipsia can be early signs of several diseases, including:

  • Kidney insufficiency;
  • Diabetes mellitus;
  • Liver disease;
  • Urinary or kidney infection;
  • Hot temperatures combined with intense exercise or heavy hair coat;
  • Cushing’s disease (abnormalities of the adrenal or pituitary gland);
  • Pyometra (infection of the uterus in unspayed female dogs); or
  • Cancer (such as an anal mass or abdominal mass).

Early diagnosis of any of these diseases can be very beneficial as treatment should be started as soon as possible. A complete history is taken by the veterinarian to assess when the increased water drinking started and if any other health or physical changes have been noticed at home. The history provided by the pet owner can many times contribute valuable clues to making a diagnosis.

It is important to discuss with your veterinarian any changes in behavior, appetite, weight loss, current medications, urination and defecation schedule, and odor or color of the urine. For example, bright yellow urine may indicate liver disease, or very clear and dilute urine may indicate kidney insufficiency. Also some medications can have polyuria and polydipsia as side effects, including steroids, some anti-seizure medications, and diuretics.

A physical examination will also be performed, allowing the doctor to assess if there are physical abnormalities to support a potential diagnosis. Blood tests (complete blood count and a chemistry panel) along with a urinalysis will provide vital information to make a proper diagnosis. Most of the above disease processes can be identified through a physical exam and baseline blood panel and urinalysis, but sometimes further diagnostics may be necessary to make a conclusive diagnosis and treatment plan.

Once a diagnosis is made treatment options can be discussed with your veterinarian and an educated course of action can be started to alleviate your dog’s condition. The increased thirst and urination are usually secondary signs of a primary problem. So even if you can deal with your dog asking to go out more frequently, it is important to find out if there is a medical reason for this behavior.

Now you know why it’s important to keep a watchful eye on your dog’s water bowl and urination habits. If things are out of the ordinary, take her in for a check-up right away to identify any serious health issues and get treatment started as soon as possible.

Amy Benjamin graduated from UC Davis Veterinary School in 2005. She worked as a vet tech at Berkeley Dog and Cat Hospital and is now on staff as a general practice doctor.  She loves working as a veterinarian alongside the several specialty and emergency doctors.

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