There can be many reasons why your cat or dog may suddenly begin urinating in places they normally do not. If a dog that is house-trained begins urinating in your dining room, for example, then your pet may be trying to tell you something. When you take your pet to the veterinarian for an exam, be prepared to answer specific questions regarding the inappropriate urination. You may be asked to roughly estimate how long the issue has been occurring, what time of day it occurs, how often it occurs and whether or not it happens while your pet is sleeping (which is usually associated more with urinary incontinence). The first test your veterinarian may request is a urinalysis. This can give important information, including the pH of the urine (acidic, basic, neutral), the bacteria content (suggesting a urinary tract infection), the specific gravity (a number value indicating how concentrated the urine is) and whether or not crystals are present. Your veterinarian may also want to run some bloodwork, particularly if your pet is older. Certain disease processes may cause increased urination, which can sometimes be mistaken for inappropriate urination. Changes on bloodwork (along with findings from a thorough physical exam) may make your veterinarian suspicious of illnesses such as kidney failure, Cushing's disease and even diabetes. Another diagnostic tool that may be utilized is an X-ray or an ultrasound. These can help determine if there are bladder stones present or even a bladder tumor. After thorough testing yields no medical causes for your pet's inappropriate urination, your veterinarian may discuss behavioral modification techniques and certain medications to help the issue. It is always a good idea to make sure that there is not a medical reason for the urinary issue before just automatically assuming there is a behavioral problem. Regardless, you should seek veterinary care if you notice any changes in your pet's urinary habits as it could be a sign of a bigger issue and waiting may only make the problem worse.
Dr. Rochelle Campbell