When our housebroken dogs stop being housebroken, we pet parents notice. Surely, something is wrong. Change in urination patterns signal issues that should be addressed quickly. Here is some advice to help with the health of your pet.
- worry if frequency of urination changes
- bring a urine sample to the vet immediately if there is a color change
- look at how urine pH affects bladder health
- add fresh broth and liquid
- assume your dog has lost its house training skills
- avoid bladder work up if your dog has had more than one bladder infection
- procrastinate on increased frequency of urination with increased thirst
- withhold water
Urinating more frequently is as bad as less frequent trips to potty. More frequent urination can mean a bladder infection, or diabetes or kidney failure when coupled with more drinking. Less frequent urination may also mean kidney failure or difficulty getting the urine out of the bladder. This happens with an obstruction. The obstruction could be a tumor, a stone lodged in the canal, or it could be a functional problem where the bladder cannot feel it is full. Often the reason to not feel the full bladder is a problem with the nervous system – sometimes a damaged intervertebral disc.
The common abnormal colors are orange, red, or brown – these usually suggest different amounts of blood or toxic waste products in the urine. Blood usually means infection, but can mean a stone.
Some stones can be dissolved either with diet or herbal therapy. Dissolving stones is great when it makes the stones go away. Dissolving the stones is a problem when the stones get just small enough to become lodged in the male dog's urethra – this can lead to obstruction, an emergency. Cranberry tablets can help make that you're just a bit more acid which may be perfect. There are some great Chinese herbal formulas for dissolving stones, for preventing crystals, for fighting infection, and for acidifying the urine. And the bonus of the herbs: they don’t wipe out the bacteria of the intestines like antibiotics do.
For dogs with kidney failure or bladder infections, extra fluids are very helpful. Homemade bone broth is a great source of nutrients and adds liquids. And, in cases of bladder infection, the fluids help rinse out the infection. Canned broth and especially bouillon cubes have too much salt and should not be shared with our pets.
Unless you have a puppy or a dog with degenerative disc disease, well potty-trained dogs remain well potty-trained dogs. If there is a tinkle accident, you may have just received your first warning that something is not right.
Recurrent bladder infections could mean there is a stone or tumor. A bladder work up includes blood work, urine culture and sensitivity, bladder catheterization, and X-rays with contrast. Bloodwork checks for reasons there may be bladder issues – like high phosphorus levels (this comes from food imbalances). The culture and sensitivity grows the bacteria at the lab, then finds the exact correct antibiotic to kill that bacteria; takes out the guesswork. The point of urinary catheterization and contrast make it easiest to see a stone on X-ray, if one is present. Then, surgery is the most common way to remove the stones to provide relief as soon as possible.
This could signal diabetes, pancreatitis, kidney failure or an endocrine disorder. All of these can become life threatening and the sooner they are discovered the better your dog’s chances. At the least, bring your vet a urine sample – this will rule in/out infection and diabetes right off and can be suggestive of kidney failure. Endocrine (these are the hormone making glands) disorders are more difficult to diagnose, but urinating and drinking more can be the first signal.
For those dogs having accidents, don’t take away their water. If your dog has diabetes, for example, taking away the water can make a crisis. No water will further damage the kidneys in kidney failure. Get your dog the help he or she needs to know why there is a changed in frequency of urination so then you won’t have to take away the water.
Any change in urination pattern in an otherwise housebroken dog is the signal that something isn’t right and should be investigated right away. The sooner you get an answer, the sooner you and your dog get relief. And, a quick answer may be early detection of a serious problem.