Urinating Frequently

Maybe you have just finished a walk, and 10 minutes later your dog is waiting at the door again. Or perhaps your cat is using the litter box so often that you are thinking about charging a toll. What is making them urinate so often?

It is common for pets to urinate more on some days than others, but a long-lasting increase in bathroom activity means that it is time to call your vet.

In females, especially, the most common explanation is a bladder infection. "A bladder infection causes a painful burning in the bladder and the urethra, which makes the pet feel as though she has to urinate all the time, even when there isn't much urine in the bladder," says E. Ann Lystrup, D.V.M., a veterinarian in private practice in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Pets with bladder infections may have blood in their urine and, because of pain in the abdomen, an unusual walk, she adds.

Urinary tract troubles -- not just infections but also stones in the bladder or urethra -- are much more common in cats than dogs. If your cat is urinating more and has also started spraying, you should suspect this is the cause.

A more serious condition that can cause frequent urination is diabetes. This is an illness in which sugar levels in the bloodstream gradually increase, damaging tissues throughout the body. In an attempt to remove excess sugars, pets will drink a lot of water and urinate much more frequently than normal.

Unspayed female pets that have a uterine infection or whose kidneys aren't working the way they should will also drink and urinate more. Thyroid problems or a tumor in the urinary tract can also cause frequent urination.

Dogs are legendary for stopping to water every tree or fire hydrant on their daily walks. This doesn't count as frequent urination because they are just doing what they are programmed to do, observes Merry Crimi, D.V.M., a veterinarian in private practice in Milwaukie, Oregon. "Most likely, your dog is just trying to mark the same trees that every other dog did."

See Your Vet If...

  • There is blood in the urine
  • Your cat has started spraying
  • Your pet is drinking a lot more water than usual
  • Your pet's tail is limp
  • A discharge from the anus, penis, or vagina has lasted two days or more
  • Your pet is constantly licking his back end
  • The vagina or anal area is red and swollen
  • There is a growth on the anus or genitals
  • Urine is dribbling while your pet sleeps
  • There has been a change in your pet's urinating habits, or he is unable to urinate
  • There is blood in the urine
  • He's lost fur on the top or base of the tail
  • The tail is greasy or infected, or it is getting thicker
  • The anal opening stays open
  • Your pet has been scooting for two days or more

Copyright 1999 Rodale Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

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