Pollakiuria: Why is My Pet Urinating More Often Than Normal?

Pollakiuria is a fun word to pronounce, but it’s certainly not a fun symptom to deal with. Pollakiuria means increased frequency of urination. Dogs with this symptom ask to go outside more frequently than normal, often round the clock. The well house trained dog may begin leaving puddles in the house and cats with pollakiuria are in and out of the litter box with increased frequency. Some kitties abandon the box altogether choosing other places to urinate.

Pollakiuria caused by lower urinary tract disease

Pollakiuria is most commonly caused by abnormalities within the lower urinary tract, consisting of the bladder and urethra. The urethra is the narrow tube that transports urine from the bladder to the outside world.

Lower urinary tract disease may cause a dog or cat to sense the need to urinate well before their bladder is full, and the puddles produced are quite small. If ever you’ve experienced a bladder infection, no doubt you can relate to this sensation.

Common lower urinary tract maladies that cause pollakiuria include:

  1. Bacterial infection within the bladder, aka bacterial cystitis: common in dogs, relatively uncommon in cats
  2. Stones within the bladder or urethra: common in dogs and cats
  3. Feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC)- an inflammatory condition of unknown cause affecting the bladder and/or urethra: purely cats
  4. Tumors or polyps within the bladder or urethra: relatively common in dogs, less common in cats

Pollakiuria caused by increased thirst

Some diseases causing pollakiuria are associated with increased thirst (polydipsia). Excess water intake and excess urine production (polyuria) go hand in hand. The animal drinks more, therefore the bladder fills more rapidly and frequently, and the puddles produced are quite large. Causes of increased thirst and urine production in dogs and cats include:

1. Hormonal imbalances

  • Diabetes mellitus: dogs and cats
  • Diabetes insipidus: primarily dogs
  • Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s disease): primarily dogs
  • Hyperthyroidism: primarily cats

2. Kidney disease

  • Kidney failure: dogs and cats
  • Pyelonephritis (kidney infection): dogs and cats

3. Liver disease: dogs and cats

4. Pyometra: primarily dogs

5. Medications

  • Cortisone containing products: primarily dogs
  • Anti-seizure medications: dogs and cats
  • Diuretics: dogs and cats

Recognizing pollakiuria

Some pollakiuric pets show overt symptoms (the kitty who urinates in the bathroom sink or the dog who leaves a bedside puddle for you to step in first thing in the morning). Other pets show more subtle symptoms. Be on the lookout for:

  • Increased frequency of urination on walks
  • Increased number of puddles in the litter box
  • A litter box that needs to be changed more frequently
  • Interrupted sleep because your pet is asking to go outside
  • The need to fill the water bowl more frequently than usual

If such symptoms arise, I encourage you to schedule a visit with your veterinarian. Do your best to arrive with a full bladder (your pet’s that is) because testing a urine sample will be an important first step in arriving at a diagnosis. This is best accomplished by taking your kitty’s litter box away a few hours prior to the office visit. Likewise, avoid walking your dog before the visit, and get into the waiting room quickly so as to avoid those many tempting places to urinate just outside the clinic.

Has your pet ever experienced pollakiuria? If so, what was the cause determined to be?

Best wishes,

Nancy Kay, DVM

Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health.   There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at www.speakingforspot.com, Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.


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4 Comments on “Pollakiuria: Why is My Pet Urinating More Often Than Normal?

  1. My current dog has Cushings. Once her Cushings was controlled, PU and PD decreased to a normal level with the exception of some slight urine leakage at night. Since the cause is idiopathic and it can happen to 1 in5 females that have been spayed, I’m accepting of this, keep her bedding clean with pads to wick away moisture. In the past I have used Phenylpropanalomine and added diethylstilbesterol, but not only did either help, her blood pressure went through the roof. I chose not to continue this as the alternative was to put her on more medication for blood pressure. She is on UTI maintenence and is monitored reguarly. 5 years cushings and now diagnosed lymphoma. Still doing well.

    I think of all of the causes of frequent urination, Cushings is perhaps the hardest for us pet owners. It comes in many forms requiring picking the right medication for the pet. It can be caused (temporarily) by glucorticoids for other illnesses. Taking them off things like prednisone would make cushings go away, but make the illness it was treating come back. Sometimes there is not a choice.

    Treating Cushings is a daunting task for both pet owner and vet alike. It is most often diagnosed in older dogs and things get complicated when other diseases such as diabetes, CRF, hypothyroidism, etc run concurrent. I do hope that everyone that replies are having good things with their pups no matter what the cause is.

  2. Spaying is another cause, but it often is uncontrolled urination- no asking for outside because the dog doesn’t know she is urinating. A specific antihistamine, (3 dogs ago, forgot which), worked very well for my Lab. It was the same as an ingredient in a common dietary control agent.

  3. My current foster dog takes seizure medication. I’m so glad my vet warned me about urinating! He had two accidents and then he seems to have adapted.

  4. My Lab has diabetes insipidus. It took several weeks and many tests to diagnose. We’re managing with Desmopressin injections twice daily. He can now go several hours without needing to urinate, whereas before the diagnosis he was drinking incredible amounts of water and needing to urinate every 20-30 minutes. The condition is so rare in dogs (or so woefully under-diagnosed) that most vets have little experience with DI. My vet said that this is the first case he’s seen in 20 years of practice. A wonderful Yahoo group and Facebook page provide support and information for people caring for a dog with DI.