By: Dr. Hilary Slaven
Sometimes it happens all of a sudden, and sometimes it comes on slowly over months. One day you realize that you’ve filled your pup’s water bowl three times in one day, when in the past one bowl was enough to get him through a whole 24 hour period. Or maybe you realize it after stepping in a puddle of urine in the house three times in one week — and your furry friend hasn’t had accidents since he was a pup. Then you realize that he’s been
drinking a lot more and can’t make it outside in time to go potty.
Has this happened to you? We hear this story frequently here at the clinic, especially with middle-aged to older dogs and cats. When this scenario comes up, your veterinarian needs information. A good history is often half of the diagnosis in these cases, and a good physical exam along with urine and blood testing is often warranted to figure out the other half.
Common diseases in the dog that cause excessive drinking and urination include diabetes mellitus and steroid hormone imbalance. Diabetes can also cause other symptoms, such as weight loss, cataracts (loss of vision), poor hair coat, flaky skin, vomiting and urinary tract infections. Steroid imbalances can be an excess of hormone (Cushing’s disease) or a lack of hormone (Addison’s disease). These can cause symptoms such as a pot-bellied appearance, thin stretchy skin, hair loss, increased panting and increased appetite.
The confusing thing is that sometimes these diseases can look very much the same and need bloodwork and urinalysis to distinguish between them. Steroid diseases often need specialized bloodwork above this to confirm a diagnosis. And (for extra fun) some dogs will have both diseases at the same time.
And there are always other causes for these symptoms that aren’t diabetes or steroid related. This is where your observational skills at home and your veterinarian’s skill at exams and interpreting bloodwork will be really helpful.
The good news is, all of the above diseases have treatments available that have seen lots of good results in pets worldwide. Once we get to the bottom of the cause, then we can start treating and resolve the problem.