If you own a dog, you know the drill: every so often, they have to go out to urinate in the middle of the night. But what if it’s happening all the time? It’s frustrating, of course, but frequent urination in dogs is far more common than you might think.
Maybe your pet has to go out to urinate several times a day. Even worse, they may not even wait to go out – leaving you with the unwelcome chore of cleaning up.
(You might have thought you and your dog were past this when you got through potty training.)
Take heart: you’re not alone. Regardless of your dog’s age, excessive urination may happen at some point. When it does, you should always consult with your veterinarian — but there’s usually no cause for alarm. With the help of your vet, there are plenty of ways to get your dog’s urinary issues under control.
Frequency Of Urination: How Much Is Too Much?
Polyuria is the medical term for excessive urination.1 But how do you know if your canine companion is suffering from it? Even when you’re playing close attention to your dog’s health, it can be difficult to tell.
For one thing, increased urination doesn’t always mean urinary incontinence. It’s true that some dogs may not be able to hold in their urine. Female dogs tend to have a higher incidence of incontinence than male dogs, and incontinence is very common in older dogs.2,3
But incontinence doesn’t always accompany increased urination. Thankfully, there are other ways to tell if your dog is suffering from polyuria.
Symptoms Of Polyuria:
(How Do I Recognize If My Dog Is Having Urinary Issues?)
What else should you look for if you suspect your dog is producing too much urine? There are several clues that might help.
Polydipsia, or excessive thirst, often accompanies polyuria.4 If you notice increased thirst in your dog, it may be time to get them to a veterinarian, especially if they seem to have to urinate more frequently.
No one wants to see blood in their dog’s urine. It’s quite a shock. Blood in the urine, or hematuria, can be a sign of a more serious issue. But it may also be a symptom of a common condition, including inflammation of the urinary tract.5
Hematuria may also accompany bladder stones: concentrations of calcium oxalate in your dog’s bladder. Bladder stones may cause some of the other symptoms of a UTI in dogs, like dysuria (straining to urinate), but they may also cause your dog to urinate less frequently.6
Whatever the cause, if you see blood in your dog’s urine, consult with your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Incontinence isn’t only a function of age. Sometimes anxiety can make a perfectly housetrained dog urinate indoors. But your dog’s urinary incontinence may be a sign of something else.7 To be sure, check with your veterinarian.
Causes Of Polyuria: Why Is My Dog Urinating So Frequently?
Even if you know which symptoms to look out for, your dog can’t tell you why they’re having urinary issues. Only a veterinarian will truly be able to tell, so get your pet to the vet. For peace of mind, though, it helps to know some of the more common causes of your dog’s urinary problems.
Urinary Tract Infections
If you’ve ever had a urinary tract infection (UTI), you know it’s not a pleasant experience. It’s no fun for your dog, either. UTIs in some dogs are fairly common. They’re usually caused by bacteria — most frequently, E. coli.
UTIs in dogs can lead to urinary incontinence, just as they can in humans. Besides incontinence and hematuria, other symptoms of UTIs in dogs include:
- Straining or whimpering during urination
- Licking the urinary opening (urethral irritation)
Once your veterinarian diagnoses a urinary tract infection, they can usually prescribe antibiotics.8
Recent Spinal Cord Surgery
Some studies have revealed a high incidence of urinary tract infections in dogs following spinal cord surgery. If your dog has had spinal cord surgery, your vet will likely want you to bring them in for routine monitoring of their urinary tract for several months following the operation.
Your vet may ask you to provide a urine sample from your dog so that they can perform a full urinalysis. You should ask your doctor to perform a urine culture as well.9 A urine culture can confirm not only the presence of a UTI in dogs, but the specific bacteria responsible for it.10
A dog’s body changes significantly as they age — just as yours does. As you get older, you may find yourself taking more frequent trips to the bathroom (sometimes multiple times throughout the night). It’s no different for older dogs and cats. Increased frequency of urination with aging is a fact of life.
That doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do about it. Your veterinarian has plenty of treatment options for urinary problems in older dogs. Sometimes, a simple change in your dog’s diet can do the trick.11
Thankfully, many urinary issues aren’t a sign of anything more serious. But they can be, which is why it’s important to take your dog in for a checkup if you notice them urinating more than usual.
Other causes of increased frequency of urination may include:
- Blood sugar issues
- A decrease in adrenal gland activity
- Kidney problems
Kidney issues may also arise from increased thyroid activity and other hormonal disorders.
It’s possible that there may be too little protein in your dog’s diet. And if your dog is taking medication for other conditions, ask your veterinarian whether they may have a diuretic effect.12
Polyuria: So What Can I Do About It?
If you suspect your dog is experiencing urinary problems, talk to your veterinarian. They will be able to direct you the best course of action to get your dog’s urinary tract health back to normal.
Collect A Urine Sample For Your Vet
Your veterinarian will most likely require a urine sample if your dog is urinating more frequently than usual. There are a few different ways to obtain this.
You can collect the urine on your own, using what’s called a free-catch sample. This may be difficult to do, though. Also, while free-catch samples may be adequate for a simple urinalysis, they may not be ideal for taking a urine culture.
To ensure that the sample is sterile, your vet may prefer urethral catheterization.
The urethra is what carries urine from your dog’s bladder. They may also recommend cystocentesis (obtaining urine directly from the bladder).13
Depending on what they find, your veterinarian might prescribe antibiotics for your pet. For more serious conditions, further medication or procedures may be in order.
Your vet may also recommend changes in your dog’s diet. They may suggest limiting the amount of water you give your dog. It’s important to keep your dog hydrated, though. Never cut back on their water without your vet’s recommendation. They will prescribe electrolytes to prevent dehydration.
Can I Prevent My Dog’s Urinary Problems Before They Occur?
You care about your dog’s health and well-being. No matter how harmless their urinary issues may be, you’d rather spare your dog the discomfort as much as possible.
There’s no surefire way to prevent polyuria, no matter what its cause. But you can help lessen the chances of certain UTIs in dogs. Make sure your dog always has fresh water — water that’s been sitting around may have harmful bacteria.
Also, while your dog may be able to hold it in for a long time, they shouldn’t have to; holding in urine could lay the groundwork for a UTI.
The most important thing to remember is that no matter how frustrating it may be, frequent urination in dogs is often easily treatable by your veterinarian and should not be ignored. With the right veterinary care, you and your beloved pet will get through it together.
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