Thirst Quenching

“He’s started drinking a lot and going to his litter tray a lot. I think it’s his kidneys.” This is something we hear a lot and it may be his kidneys, but……

Increased thirst and increased urination are common problems in our pet animals, but the diagnosis of the underlying condition can be difficult and as there is no “one treatment fits all”, a definitive diagnosis is required for treatment. It may be renal disease, diabetes or something much more unusual.

The first question to ask is whether your animal is truly drinking more and is there a healthy reason for this. Increased drinking is normal when the environmental temperature increases (including when the central heating goes on in Autumn) or if you are exercising your pet more than normal such as joining an agility class. Wet food is about 70% water and many animals hydrate from this, so if you change over to dry food you will notice an increase in water intake. If your pet has watery diarrhoea or is nauseous, they will drink more to maintain their own hydration levels and again, this is a normal body response to disease. Even if your pet has lower urinary tract infection, increased thirst can be present because the body wants to dilute the urine and alleviate discomfort.

If you do notice that your dog or cat is drinking more, you can roughly estimate how much your pet is drinking. For instance, you may notice you have to fill the drinking bowl two or three times a day, or you catch your cat drinking out of the sink more often. Even in multi-animal households, you will notice the number of times you are having to fill the water bowl and measuring out how much your put in the bowl is very useful.

What about the other end? Possibly because I am a clinician, I am always watching what comes out of my animals, so I’m always surprised that owners don’t always watch their animals do when they go to the loo - maybe I’m just odd in that respect. Is your pet actually passing a lot of urine every time he squats or is he just pretending? Cats, especially, suffer from cystitis or bladder inflammation and feel as though they need to pee even when their bladders are empty so monitoring how much urine is passed each time is important. Dogs (both males and females) can scent mark and although they squat a lot, they are just passing a few drops of urine at a time.

To diagnose conditions that cause increase thirst and urination initially requires blood tests and a urine sample. Collecting urine can be an art form in itself, and clients often devise devious ways of catching urine especially from bitches. We can provide plastic beads that substitute as non-absorbent cat litter to make this process easier too. Remember, urine cannot be placed in a container that’s held sugar - it could confuse the diagnosis with false diabetes results. Hopefully, the condition will be simple to diagnose and early treatment can begun.