What’s up with my dog? He is drinking way too much water!

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.


Chocolate Toxicity in Dogs

By:  Dr. Hilary Slaven

This morning sure felt crisp!  There’s no doubt about it, autumn is here in West Central Indiana, and my brain is starting to think about leaves turning and pumpkins and harvest.  Meanwhile my stomach is thinking about candy corn and caramel apples and gobs of Halloween chocolates.  And yummy pumpkin lattes (they totally live up to the hype!!  You should try one.  Get me one, too.)tim-burton-jack-o-lantern

My Labrador retriever, Hank, loves this time of year, too.  He just can’t wait until Halloween night, when he can sneak a piece of chocolate or two (or twelve) from the kids’ trick-or-treat bags.

Many owners know that chocolate is toxic to dogs, but we also know that many dogs eat an M&M here and there and live to tell about it.  So when do we worry?  When do you call your veterinarian?

Chocolate toxicity is one of the top 20 poisons that we see in our canine friends.  It is a combination of caffeine and a chemical called theobromine that causes the problem.  Dogs are very sensitive to these (more-so than humans), and owners will see a hyper, easily excitable dog.  This excitability can progress to seizures, increased heart rate, vomiting and even death.

The darker the chocolate, the higher the concentration of the toxic chemicals.  This means that your dog has to eat less of it to see these effects.  Dark chocolate is the most toxic, and white chocolate the least toxic.

Your best bet is to catch it as early as possible, make note of your dog’s symptoms and a good assessment of how much he ate, and then call your veterinarian for advice.

Sometimes as veterinarians we need to encourage a dog to vomit, or control seizures with anti-seizure drugs, or give oral medications to help protect the stomach or the heart.   Sometimes bloodwork is necessary or even IV fluids to help keep a dog hydrated until the caffeine and theobromine leave his system.

Each case is very individual and most turn out well with the help of your other family doctor!  Here’s to wishing you a safe and happy fall season!



Red Irritated Eyes in Dogs and Cats

By:  Dr. Hilary Slaven

It’s Sunday morning and you wake up with your best furry friend and see that one of his eyes are weepy.  His tail is wagging and he is squinting up at you.  Upon closer inspection, you see that his eye appears red and irritated.  He starts to rub his eye on the bed and then with his paw.  It seems painful and sore.

What do you do in this situation?  Do you get through the day and call your veterinarian first thing in the morning?  Do you call an emergency service today?

There are a variety of reasons that your furry buddy could have an irritated eye.  If he is young and playful, we often see scratches on the cornea (the clear outer surface of the eyeball), or irritated eyes from being ‘nosy’ and brushing eyes against weeds, bushes, etc.  Some dogs get allergies, especially in the spring and fall, that cause irritation.  Fleas can cause the same type of irritation.  Older dogs can get ‘dry eye’, where tear glands do not produce as many tears as they should and the cornea becomes irritated and even infected.  Cats as kittens often have underlying viruses that cause red eyes that can progress over time to serious infections of the eye ball itself.  In this way, eyes can also be a clue to underlying diseases such as diabetes or fungal infections.

A simple call to your local emergency service is likely the best way to start in this situation.  A good description of your pet’s lifestyle, his history, and the look of the eye can go a long way as to the cause of the problem.  Get a good idea too of how your pet is feeling overall before you call.  (Is he eating/drinking?  Urinating/defecating?  Acting tired or listless?  Vomiting or diarrhea?)  If nothing else, a conversation with a professional may be able to determine whether or not your pet needs to go in to see the doctor immediately or if things can likely wait until Monday.

Once your veterinarian gets an opportunity to look at the eye, they will be able to do a physical exam and run some simple diagnostics to determine the problem.  Sometimes bloodwork is necessary to decide whether or not an underlying problem exists.  Typically, even simple eye issues should be seen ASAP for fast healing with minimal long term effects.