Category Archives: Urinating

Canine Polydipsia and Canine Polyuria


Polydipsia and Polyuria in Dogs


Polydipsia refers to an increased level of thirst in dogs, while polyuria refers to an abnormally high urine production. While serious medical consequences are rare, your pet should be evaluated to ensure that these conditions are not symptoms of a more serious underlying medical condition. Your veterinarian will want to either confirm or rule out renal failure, or hepatic diseases.

Polyuria and polydipsia can affect both dogs and cats, and can be brought on by a variety of factors. If you would like to learn more about how these diseases affect cats, please visit this page in the PetMD health library.


The most common symptoms of these medical conditions are an increase in urination, and drinking much more water than usual. There are generally no other behavioral changes.


The primary causes of polydipsia and polyuria include congenital abnormalities, and those associated with renal failure. Congenital diseases can include diabetes, a decrease in steroid production by the adrenal glands, and some rare psychological disorders. Kidney diseases, meanwhil, can be congenitally based, or can be linked to tumors, increased steroid production, increased thyroid hormone levels, and electrolyte or hormonal disorders.

Other potential factors behind polydipsia and polyuria are low protein diets, medications that are prescribed for removing excess fluid from the body (diuretics), and age. The younger and more active a dog is, the more likely it is that it will have intermittent increases in thirst and urination.


Your veterinarian will examine your dog to determine the true levels of thirst and urination by measuring water intake and urination output. A baseline of normal fluid levels (hydration) and normal urination will be established for comparison, and an evaluation will be performed to ensure that the increased thirst and urination are not signs of a more serious medical condition.

Standard tests will include a complete blood count (CBC), a urinalysis, and X-ray imaging to rule out or confirm any issues with the kidney (renal) system, the adrenal system, and the reproductive systems.

Any other symptoms accompanying the increased levels of thirst or urination, even when appearing unrelated, will be taken into consideration during the final diagnosis.


Treatment will most likely be on an outpatient basis. The primary concern is that renal or hepatic failure can be causing increased water consumption or increased urination. If both of these concerns have been ruled out, and there are no other serious medical conditions associated with either of these conditions, no treatment or behavior modification will be necessary.

Your doctor may recommend water limitation, while cautioning you to observe that your dog is adequately hydrated. Hydration levels should be monitored during and following treatment, since dehydration can also bring about serious medical complications. If the dog is dehydrated, electrolytes may also be prescribed.

Living and Management

Observation and comparison against the determined baseline levels are recommended for judging progress.


There are currently no known preventative measures for either polydipsia or polyuria.


Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

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Male Dogs Marking Territory by Lifting Leg to Urinate

Male dogs marking territory by lifting their leg to urinate.

Why do male dogs lift their leg when they urinate? It’s a funny behavior if you think about it; most female dogs don’t do it, and not all male dogs do it either. After all, leg lifting isn’t necessary to perform the action of urination.
The answer has nothing to do with the act of urination or the elimination of waste. Lifting the leg while urinating actually has everything to do with the way that dogs communicate. It is a method by which dogs mark their territory and a way for them to mark areas with their scent. Not only is it totally normal behavior, it’s also an important part of how dogs “talk” to each other.
Dogs are pack animals, and their heritage as such suggests that they need to live within their territory. Doing so allows them access to necessary resources and makes it clear to other dogs that this area is taken, thereby avoiding unnecessary confrontations.
Another aspect of dog communication is their amazing sense of smell; they rely on this sensory information to understand their world. Dogs are reported to have anywhere from 40 to 100,000 times more sensing ability than humans. Some experts suggest that the sense of smell is so strong it consumes 30% of the canine brain function (as opposed to the estimated 5% devoted in the human brain).
Now, back to the issue of urine. Dog urine contains pheromones, microscopic odor molecules that communicate to other animals that a dog was there. The lifting of the leg allows the dog to “place their mark” closer to nose level, where it can be more prominent to other dogs. Many dogs urinate over another dog’s mark to communicate their presence, sort of like painting over graffiti.
Somewhere between 6 months and 1 year of age, most dogs will begin learning to “lift.” It is estimated that 60% of neutered dogs will stop leg lifting after the procedure. Occasionally, you may find an intact female dog who will also mark for the same reasons as male dogs, but this behavior can be most frequent during heat cycles because it helps signal their mating potential to receptive males. Females can also mark to send their own territorial signals. Nearly all intact female dogs that leg lift will stop after spaying, but some continue years after surgery.
 by: Dr. Debra Primovic – DVM