When lapping it up is bad
Ask the vet
Esther Van Luipen
Drinking more than usual and urinating excessively is something that many pet owners don’t take seriously. However, it is a real giveaway that something’s wrong.
When you notice that you have to fill up the water bowl more often, or you see your pet drinking much more often, or when your pet starts peeing in the house, you should take immediate action.
A lot of illnesses are associated with what vets call polyuria/polydipsia – or PU/PD for short. Polyuria is the passage of large volumes of urine with an increase in urinary frequency, while Polydipsia is excessive thirst.
PU/PD can be caused by hyperthyroidism (cats), diabetes mellitus, acute or chronic renal insufficiency, lower urinary tract disease (like bladder infections), hypercalcaemia (often secondary to feline lymphoma), uterine infection, liver disease, Cushing’s Syndrome and other things.
To identify the cause of the PU/PD, the vet will have to first take the history of the animal and do a thorough examination. This may be followed by blood tests or an X-ray.
The vet will also ask when the problem started; whether it was sudden or gradual; whether your pet is finding it hard to pee – whether it is straining, or passing blood, for example; if your pet is eating the same amount but losing weight; whether your pet has become more active; whether it has been vomiting, and if it has been given steroids (like prednisone).
The physical exam will focus on body condition (weight loss is common in hyperthyroidism/diabetes, lymphoma and renal disease, while a pot-bellied appearance occurs with Cushing’s), coat condition, breath odour (renal disease can lead to foul breath), heart rate (often higher in hyperthyroidism), mucous membrane colour (can be yellowish with liver disease), body temperature (often raised with infections), and organ size or texture (irregularities can indicate uterine infections, liver disease, lymphoma or kidney disease).
Your vet will be able to tell from the urine if your pet is actually really suffering from PU/PD, so it would be great if you can bring a urine sample. Unless the cause of the PU/PD is clear straight away, it is very important that bloods are taken and examined. An enormous amount of information can be obtained from bloods, which can rule out (or in) liver disease, kidney disease, thyroid conditions and diabetes. In some cases, it is also possible to see how much a disease has advanced, like in kidney or liver failure. After bloods are taken, it may be necessary to do an ultrasound or X-ray.
How much is too much?
If your pet drinks more than 100ml of water per kg of bodyweight a day, this is too much. By measuring the amount of water your pet drinks, you can tell if it is time to take action.
Don’t ever deprive your pet from water though. If your pet drinks more than usual this is because your pet needs it. Remember, the best thing is to bring your pet to a vet straight away.
Esther van Luipen is a veterinary surgeon in Claremorris Small Animal Practice. She can be contacted at 094 9373955 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.