Wet patches in the house Print E-mail
News - Rubrieke
Monday, 27 October 2014 23:45
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Dr Liesel van der Merwe is a small animal medicine specialist. Send her your questions: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Dr Liesel van der Merwe

I have already written about this topic - but it bears repeating and re-emphasis. When your dogs urinate in the house it can be from behavioural problems, training problems or medical problems. Careful observation will help you differentiate. Cats are discussed at the end.

Young puppies need to be trained as to where it is appropriate to urinate. Initially they must be taken out frequently – there is no anticipation of the need to urinate – and the puppy must be praised when it urinates outside (positive re-enforcement). It doesn’t help to shout if accidents happen. Mats and paper can be used when access to outside isn’t easy. These can be gradually moved until they are in the correct area – outside or on the patio.

Behavioural urination, such as leg lifting against furniture in the house, is territorial. Wetting when excited or scared is also behavioural. 

Careful observation is needed to differentiate the medical causes: leaking from incontinence, frequent urges to urinate small volumes due to inflammation and increased volume of urine resulting in full bladder and increased frequency of normal urination, and loss of training.

Incontinence can be caused by congenital anatomical abnormalities of the ureters (ectopic) or bladder (abnormal position – too far back) and will generally present in young animals, especially females.

Male dogs may also have the bladder or urethral defect but don’t show clinical signs due to the backpressure of the long urethra which prevents leakage. Additionally, with ageing and sterilisation, some dogs develop a weakening of bladder neck tone, which may cause urine leakage as the bladder fills.

In these animals urine leaks out without them being aware of it. This may be postural as it has built up and pooled in the cranial vagina, or when the dog is relaxed and sleeping. The basket or blankets may be wet in the morning or wet patches on tiles where the dog lies.

Congenital conditions can be surgically corrected or managed. The decreased bladder tone can be managed medically, but unfortunately the most effective agent is unavailable due to its use in compounding of recreational drugs. So, we have fewer choices, and surgery to tighten the bladder neck is indicated in uncontrolled patients, with good results.

Animals which have to stop and urinate all over the place, straining to produce a few drops of urine as if uncomfortable, are diagnosed with urge incontinence. This is generally due to bladder inflammation from bladder stones or urinary tract infection.

Bladder cancer is a less common cause. Bitches do not show a hyper-reactive bladder syndrome. These dogs may also lick excessively. A check-up for the above causes is needed.

Dogs that suddenly cannot manage to make it through the night without wetting in the house usually have a condition which results in increased urine production or water intake and are producing more urine and the bladder just gets too full.

These dogs are aware that they are urinating and will choose an area and completely empty the bladder with no evidence of discomfort. Often near the door or on the mat or in the bathroom. These dogs need to be checked for hormonal and kidney disease, which affect urine volume and concentration.

Some older dogs may also suddenly forget all their house training and urinate wherever and whenever, even if there is clear access to the garden. Older dogs get cognitive dysfunction (CCD), which is similar to Alzheimer’s, and this can sometimes be managed with a specific diet and medication. A major differential for age-related dementia is brain tumours, which are not infrequent in dogs. 

Cats are similar, in that they will urinate small drops, in abnormal places, such as the bathroom, basin or countertops, when they have a bladder inflammation due to stones (most likely) or infection (rare).

The problem in cats is that male cats may block up totally at the urethra and this needs to be managed as an emergency. In these animals the bladder will be full and hard. Don’t wait; immediately go to your vet for a check up. Diet, commercial non-premium cat pellets, is the major culprit here as their increased mineral content and pH predispose to stone formation.

In contrast to dogs, however, the major cause of feline urination issues is environmental and stress related. Cats very seldom show congenital incontinence. They will also show behavioural and marking behaviour.

Look out for all these details. Don’t make a presumptive diagnosis and check all the possibilities with your veterinarian if your animal is exhibiting this problem.


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