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DrBarchas.com is free resource for people with pets. Searchable articles are available on diseases, behavior, symptoms, and medical treatments for dogs and cats. Photo galleries contain submitted pictures of pets and people.

About Eric Barchas, D.V.M.

Eric Barchas, DVM is a veterinarian who lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area. His emphasis is on small animal medicine, emergency medicine, hospice and wellness. An avid traveler, he has studied lions in Botswana and salmon in southern Chile.

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The contents of this page are provided for general informational purposes only. Under no circumstances should this page be substituted for professional consultation with a veterinarian.

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Changes in Thirst or Urine Output in Cats and Dogs

Marked changes in an animal's water consumption or urine output have many causes. Chronic or long-term changes in thirst or urinary habits may be indicative of serious disease.

Causes of Increased Water Consumption or Urine Output

More common causes are listed first. Less common causes are listed later.

  • Thirst may increase temporarily in response to a change in diet (for instance, if the pet consumes a large amount of salt), exposure to a warm environment, or heavy activity.
  • Urinary tract infections, FLUTD, or other diseases of the bladder may impact thirst and urination. Changes in urinary patterns may be especially evident in these syndromes.
  • Kidney disease may lead to increased thirst or urination. This is especially common in older cats.
  • Diabetes Mellitus (also known simply as diabetes) causes increased thirst and increased urination in most affected cats and dogs.
  • Hyperthyroidism is a common cause of changes in water consumption in cats.
  • Increased thirst or urination is a side effect of some medicines, such as prednisonefurosemide, and phenobarbital.
  • In older animals, certain types of cancer can cause changes to thirst or urination.
  • Glandular diseases such as Cushing's disease, Addison's disease, and diabetes insipidus may trigger increased thirst or urination.
  • Liver disease may trigger changes in water consumption and elimination.
  • Older female dogs and cats that have not been spayed may suffer a life-threatening infection of the uterus called pyometra. This disease can cause increased thirst or urination.
  • Rarely, psychological or behavioral issues can lead to increased water consumption and urine output.

Causes of Decreased Water Consumption and Decreased Urination

  • Markedly decreased water consumption is often caused by nausea. Any syndrome that can cause vomiting, nausea, or appetite suppression can lead to decreased water consumption.
  • In dogs and in female cats, decreased urine production is usually indicative of dehydration.
  • In male cats, urinary obstruction can result in dramatically decreased urine output. This syndrome is life threatening.
  • Some forms of kidney failure lead to decreased urine production.

Recommended Course of Action

Any pet with persistent changes in thirst or urination should receive veterinary attention as soon as possible.

Any male cat whose urine production decreases precipitately should receive immediate veterinary care. This situation should be treated as an emergency.

Copyright © Eric Barchas, DVM All rights reserved.
The contents of this page are provided for general informational purposes only. Under no circumstances should this page be substituted for professional consultation with a veterinarian.