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Is Your Dog Peeing a Lot? When To Worry & What To Do (Vet Answer)

Is Your Dog Peeing a Lot? When To Worry & What To Do (Vet Answer) Featured Image

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If you have recently noticed that your dog is peeing more than usual; either because it is asking to be left out more often or because you have noticed an increase in the frequency of the dog’s urination, it is very important to examine the case in detail. Detailed observations and some general information should help you to be able to distinguish between behavioral environmental or medical causes of this condition.

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So, what are some of the different possible causes for a dog peeing a lot?

  • Age-related
  • Territorial
  • Environmental or Compensatory
  • Medical
    • a. Incontinence
    • b. Drug-induced
    • c. Disease
      • i. Urinary tract infection
      • ii. Endocrinopathy
      • iii. Diabetes
      • iv. Kidney disease
      • v. Hepatic disease
akita inu puppy peed in the carpet
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

How can I know if the reason for my dog’s increased urination is behavioral or a medical issue?

As a dog owner, your observations are a very valuable asset in understanding behavioral problems. Your observations are also very helpful while building up a complete medical history that will aid the veterinarian to accurately diagnose a disease if that’s the case.

As a general rule, you must be able to clearly distinguish when a dog is peeing, from when a dog is marking or when a dog is involuntary leaking urine.

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Age-related factors that affect urination

Generally, puppies that are still learning to control their bladders urinate more frequently than fully grown dogs. On average, a puppy urinates once every 2 hours and that is considered normal.

Unfortunately, in some cases, owners usually fail to observe their adult dog’s normal urination habits. Once the pet learns how to “go outside” and they no longer have to deal with a mess, urine does not even cross by their mind, ever again.

It is always a good dog owner practice to keep a close eye on your dog and familiarize yourself with its urinating habits. This will allow you to have a baseline of what is normal for your dog and you will be able to notice any potential problem earlier.  On average an adult dog urinates every 4 or 6 hours.

puppy peeing inside the house
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

Territorial factors that affect urination

Dogs use their urine to mark territory, this behavior is first observed in dogs after they reach the third month of age. Dogs mark the territory where they live, the paths where they walk, objects, and more. It is a way of social communication between dogs. Marking is more common in unneutered males and unspayed females. This suggests marking it is also a way of communicating reproductive and hormonal status. It has been observed that marking behavior in females correlates with the time just before and during their ovulation or heat.

If you are a first-time dog owner, it is very important to familiarize yourself with how to tell marking apart for urination. As a general rule marking is brief, only a small volume of urine is expelled, and frequently marking is constantly repeated in the same spots or sites. Marking is part of the normal behavior of dogs. Sometimes, excessive marking can become an issue know as problematic marking, this is a behavioral and not a medical problem.

dog peeing on concrete
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Other Behavioral factors that affect urination

Other behavioral factors that can cause dogs to urinate are anxiety and excitement. Some of the factors that add to the dog’s anxiety are new dogs in or near their territory, separation anxiety caused by their owners being absent for prolonged periods, and the addition of new, unknown objects or noises to their environment, among others.

Some dogs urinate out of excitement such as when the owner returns home or when they anticipate something that they like. If the dog is urinating while moving the tail simultaneously, most likely it is excitement urination.

Polyuria

The medical term of the formation and elimination of large quantities of urine is called “Polyuria” and this is a condition that is not only reserved for dogs. The term applies to other animals and humans as well.

None of the behavioral-related factors we presented are considered a case of “polyuria” as in reality, the total volume of urine produced by the body is not increased.  Polyuria itself is not a disease but merely a sign of either a compensatory system or several medical conditions or diseases.

dog pee on floor
Image Credit: MCarper, Shutterstock

Environmental factors that affect urination

It is relatively normal that during hot summer months dogs drink more water and consequently urinate more. If your dog is drinking and urinating more it is important to consider if the environmental temperature might be the reason.

A slight increase in urination linked to an increase of water consumption due to higher environmental temperature is normal this can be named “Compensatory Polyuria” this is not a disease.

Health-related factors that affect urination

Obviously, health-related factors that affect urination in the dog are the biggest concern. If you are an observant owner, you might have noticed if your dog’s urinating habits have changed. However, it is not always easy to know if the dog is actually urinating more in total volume or just in frequency. If this is not related to any of the factors that we mentioned previously, please bring your dog to visit the veterinarian for a checkup.

As explained, increased urination is a sign rather than a disease itself and several medical conditions can cause this problem. The veterinarian is trained to collect and interpret the necessary information to diagnose what is the underlying condition behind your dog’s increased urination.

The veterinarian will perform a physical examination of your dog and might collect blood, and a urine sample. In some cases, the veterinarian will want to collect a sterile urine sample directly from the urinary bladder using an ultrasound to guide the precise puncture with needle and catheter into the bladder. Depending on the specifics of the case the veterinarian might need to perform further diagnostic studies such as X-rays, or ultrasounds.

Urinary tract infection

If the veterinarian finds out that your dog is suffering from a urinary tract infection, it is good to know that prognosis is usually very good for this condition: especially if it is diagnosed early.

Generally, urinary tract infections increase the frequency of urination but not the total volume of urine produced. It is a good dog owner practice to keep a close eye on your dog and familiarize yourself with its urinating habits.

Some of the behavioral changes seen in dogs suffering urinary tract infections include:
  • Change in the position of urination. In this case, adult dogs might urinate bending the hind legs (like puppies do) instead of raising a single leg sideways as most adult dogs urinate normally.
  • Taking a longer than normal time attempting to urinate before starting to urinate, urinates small amounts each time.
  • The dog seems to have painful urination, sometimes even growls while urinating.
  • The urine has blood, is cloudy, or has a foul smell.

Please bring your dog for a veterinary consultation immediately if you notice any of these signs. Your observations are very valuable especially considering that by acting quickly you can avoid an infection to complicate, for example, a urinary tract infection left unattended can develop into a kidney infection.

Assuming that the infection did not complicate your dog will most likely be put on oral antibiotics for a week or two and then recover normal urinating habits.

Incontinence

There can be several underlying medical causes and treatments of urine leakage or incontinence in dogs. As a general rule, urine amounts are small and you will notice that your dog seems unaware of the fact that it is urinating. The total volume of urine is not increased in this case.

dog peeing on floor
Image Credit: komkrit Preechachanwate, Shutterstock

Pathological polyuria

An adult dog’s normal urination volume is approximately  20 to 40 ml of urine per kilogram of body weight in 24 hours and polyuria is defined as a daily urine output of greater than 50 ml of urine per kilogram of body weight in 24 hours. However, measuring urine milliliters is not expected from an owner, we only do this at the veterinary clinic if we need precise information for a differential diagnosis between provable causes of polyuria.

Polydipsia/Polyuria

It is common for pathological polyuria to come in combination with polydipsia, the medical term of an abnormally increased consumption of water. This might sound confusing to you as you just read that sometimes not pathologic polyuria was caused by increased water consumption during higher environmental temperatures. However, some diseases such as diabetes cause a cycle of increased water consumption and increased urination. This happens regardless of environmental temperatures and it is definitively more marked.

Several diseases can cause pathological polyuria, among them, the most common are:
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Diabetes insipidus
  • Hepatic Disease
  • Renal disease
  • Hypoadrenocorticism: a decrease in steroid production by the adrenal glands
  • Other hormonal diseases such as hyperadrenocorticism or Cushing’s disease
  • Some kinds of tumors and malignancies
  • Reproductive system infections such as pyometra in females
  • Electrolyte imbalances, such as hypercalcemia, hypocalcemia
To accurately diagnose what is the exact cause of your dog’s disease doctors relies on a series of test that might include:
  • Serial biological sampling. In this case, you can expect your dog’s blood sample to be collected more than once a day, before and after food intake, or in other examples, a series of urine samples needed before and after certain medicines are administered.
  • Exact water intake and urine output measurements tests.
  • Water deprivation tests where your dog’s water intake will be limited to a certain amount for 24 hours with urine collected, measured, and tested more than twice during that period.
  • Diagnostic imaging such as ultrasounds, X-rays in some cases even MRIs.

At this point, it is very important to be very observant of details and let your veterinarian know if you notice any other symptoms in your dog such as vomit, diarrhea, lack of appetite, etc.

Drug-induced Polyuria or Pharmacological Polyuria

Increased urination in your dog might also be a consequence of ongoing treatment.

Several medications can cause increased urination including:
  • Diuretic agents
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Anticonvulsants such as Phenytoin
  • Synthetic thyroid hormone supplements

Polyuria can also be observed following ingestion of sufficient quantities of salt to increase thirst and after the administration of intravenous fluids. Although these are not drugs per se, they are classified in this category.

puppy peed on bed sheet
Image Credit: cunaplus, Shutterstock

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Conclusion

It is recommended to familiarize yourself with your dog’s habits. Having a clear idea of how many times a day does your dog urinate, where, and at what times is a good starting point.  Try to note other details like the position he assumes, the color of the urine, and even the amount of water he regularly consumes.

Increased urination in your dog can be caused by behavioral, environmental, or medical issues. It is important to be able to distinguish an increased frequency of urination from the increased volume of urine.

If the cause behind your dog’s increased urination is medical, the treatment will depend on the underlying cause. Some conditions resolve completely with medicines or surgery, however, some of these diseases do not have a cure, they are managed.

Certain conditions require the dog’s diet to be changed to a special, specific diet, for example, high in fiber, low in protein, or low in phosphorus, it will depend on the case. Most likely dogs will need to be on a special diet for the rest of their lives. Some dogs may need to have a daily injection twice a day and return to the veterinary clinics for regular tests and treatment adjustments. Other dogs will be required to increase activity levels and this means you need to make sure they get daily walks. In some of these cases, the increased urination will persist, in other cases, it might reduce considerably.

If you have noticed that your dog is urinating a lot and you suspect this is due to a medical problem, take your dog to the veterinary clinic for a checkup. Following the veterinarian’s specific instructions and prescriptions is the best you can do to help your dog enjoy the best quality of life.


Featured Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

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