1Although familiarizing yourself with your pet’s urination may not be the most glamorous part of pet ownership, knowing a bit about what is coming out of your pet is just as important as knowing what is going in. Abnormalities in urination could indicate a serious health concern.

Obvious changes in urination (i.e. blood in the urine, frequent urination of very small amounts, foul odor, vocalizing in pain while urinating, etc.) indicate a need for immediate medical attention. For this reason, it is a real benefit for pet owners to visually confirm their dog’s urinary behavior or inspect the cat’s litter box at least once per day. Understanding your pet’s normal urination behaviors will make it easier to detect changes that are concerning.

One common abnormality often overlooked in older pets is urinating an inappropriately large amount of urine that is atypically dilute (light or clear in color and nearly odorless). The medical term for this is polyuria. Polyuria occurs when the body’s normal ability to conserve water for itself goes awry. Conditions causing polyuria include subtle, long term changes in hormone balance as well as more immediately life-threatening problems (e.g. your dog or cat might have kidney disease, diabetes, urinary tract infection, certain cancers, etc.), and should be investigated by your veterinarian as soon as the symptom is recognized. When pets are urinating an inappropriately large amount, they are losing fluids each time they urinate, and are often mildly to severely dehydrated. Most pets will try to compensate for these losses by drinking more, so drinking excessively (polydipsia) also accompanies polyuria.

If you think you have identified polyuria in your pet, seek veterinary attention promptly.  A urine home-test will also provide valuable information. Early detection will improve both the cost and the outcome of treatment options. Remember, you are the front line in knowing if your pet needs medical attention and care.

Jill Tessler, DVM