It is 3 a.m. and you are cozy in bed, fast asleep after a long day. All of a sudden, your dog (who is always a good sleeper) is up and whining to go outside. You get up, let her out and don’t think much about it . . . until it happens the following night. You also start noticing that her water bowl is now empty when it would normally still be half-full. Are these changes significant?
Often times, the amount of water being consumed may not be as noticeable as a change in urination frequency. Your normally well-trained dog may start having accidents in the house or may ask to go outside repeatedly. Your cat may start urinating in inappropriate places, or you may notice the litter box has an increased amount of urine-clumps present. Changes in your dog or cat’s water intake or urination habits could be important, and a veterinarian should check them out promptly.
Urinary tract infection (UTI) or bladder stones may cause increased urination, in which case increased drinking becomes the secondary symptom. Conversely, increased drinking may be the primary symptom, and excessive urination the secondary symptom, as seen in dogs with diseases such as Diabetes Mellitus, Kidney Disease, Hyperadrenocorticism, and many others. Hyperadrenocorticism (also known as Cushing’s Disease) occurs when the adrenal glands are producing an excess amount of steroids causing the increase in water intake. In cats, excess water intake, leading to increased urination, may be associated with Diabetes Mellitus, Hyperthyroidism (where the thyroid gland produces an excess amount of thyroid hormones), and Kidney Disease. Kidney Disease may result from a chronic, slowly-progressing disease process or from an acute (sudden) kidney failure from a severe bacterial infection (such as Leptospirosis or others) or poison ingestion. For example, if a cat eats lilies it can cause acute kidney failure and death.
All of the above diseases can be ruled out or diagnosed with basic lab work that evaluates blood and urine samples. Based on the exam findings and initial lab work, your veterinarian may recommend further diagnostic testing. As with most medical conditions, recognizing changes and acknowledging that they may be significant are critical first steps in getting answers and a treatment plan for your beloved pet. If you are seeing consistent changes in your pet’s drinking or urination habits, please contact your veterinarian to make certain all necessary treatments for your pet’s best health are performed.