An increase or decrease in urine output is often a sign that something is going on in the urinary tract. Accidents in the house or outside of the litter box could also indicate an issue.
Urinary issues can be due to stones, crystals, bacteria, tumors, organ malfunction or hormonal abnormalities. Additionally, they can be a behavioral problem, such as excessive marking, due to the pheromone signals contained in a single drop of urine.
If the veterinarian suspects stones in your cat or dog, x-rays are usually the first round of diagnostic tests. Some can be passed through a urinary catheter with the help of a laser to break them down, while others need to be surgically removed. Stones can be found in any part of the urinary tract, from kidney to bladder.
Testing the stone to determine what type it is can be beneficial in determining a necessary diet change for the animal, as nutrition is the leading cause of stones. Many cats, for instance, do not get sufficient water in their diet due to reliance on dry commercial kibble.
Observing urine under the microscope can tell a veterinarian if crystals are present. Crystals are a precursor to stones and can similarly irritate the urinary tract. They can indicate disease or suggest the need for a dietary change.
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are caused by bacteria. While bacteria can be noted under the microscope, the type of bacteria can be determined with a urine culture. Sensitivity testing can tell if the bacteria are resistant to any antibiotics.
When urinary complications are not caused by any of these, a veterinarian might also look at the following:
- Hormonal imbalances--Cushing's or Addison's disease
- Organ disorders--kidney disease, bladder tumors, diabetes
- Behavior--territorial marking, stress, pain, anxiety
- Improper sterilization--neutered after maturity or spayed too early
While antibiotics or surgery might sometimes be necessary, holistic medicine aims to clear away chronic infections and to pursue treatment in the most non-toxic way possible.
Chinese herbs are often prescribed when urinary complications are present. Supplements, especially immune-boosting ones, are typically sent home, too. As always, acupuncture is an important modality for combating urinary issues via pain management, detox and increase of immune function. Aforementioned, nutrition is also a key part of the treatment plan for any patient experiencing urinary complications.
Luckily, there's a long list of preventative measures you can take at home to tackle urinary complications. Stress relief is incredibly important in addressing improper urination. Happy pets are more inclined to pee where they're supposed to!
Sufficient stimulation is essential to a content animal, which means dogs need to be walked outside to urinate, not just left to do their business in the yard. Canines, like many animals, use urine to communicate. They need to sniff out other urine marks to do this--but that's hard to do when it's mostly their own urine markings in the backyard! Frequent walks can change that.
Proper hygiene of litter pans also goes a long way. There should always be at least one more litter box than there are cats in a household. Keeping the litter pans clean is also necessary because cats will be picky about their toilet training.
With regard to training, desired behavior should be rewarded. If you pet is urinating where they are not supposed to, be sure to congratulate them when they do go to the bathroom in the right spot.