When your wonderful dog, who has always done his or her "business" outside, begins leaving puddles in the house, please do not default to the notion that this is a behavioral issue. It is highly unlikely your dog is mad at you for sleeping in on Sunday mornings or jealous because you showed some affection to your neighbor's dog. Chances are, the inappropriate urination is a result of an underlying medical issue.
Well house-trained dogs would rather urinate anywhere other than inside their own home. Several types of medical issues are capable of disrupting normal house-training. Bladder infections, stones, and tumors create an urgency to urinate even when the bladder contains only a small amount of urine. Prostate gland disease (more common in boys who have not been neutered) can disrupt normal urinary habits. Increased water intake may overwhelm a dog's normal eight to ten-hour bladder capacity. Common causes of increased thirst include a variety of hormonal imbalances, kidney failure, and liver disease. Commonly prescribed medications such as prednisone (a form of cortisone) and furosemide (a diuretic or "water pill") typically cause increased thirst.
Some dogs develop urinary incontinence (involuntary urine leakage). This is more common in females and is usually a result of relaxation of the muscular sphincter that normally prevents urine from flowing down the urethra- the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside world. The urine leakage may be constant, but more commonly it occurs as the bladder distends during the night while the dog is soundly sleeping. In most cases, urinary incontinence can be successfully managed by correcting the underlying cause and/or treating with medications that "tighten up" the urethral sphincter.
If your dog has a break in house-training, please don't respond with a reprimand. Far better to schedule a consultation with your veterinarian.
This article is shared with permission from Dr. Nancy Kay, DVM, Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine and author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life.
Comments and feedback are welcomed on Dr. Kay's original blog post.
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