What is Psychogenic Polydipsia?
Polyuria and polydipsia, what is known as increased urination and increased drinking, can be indicative of a serious medical issue such as diabetes. However, in some cases, diagnostic tests may be performed in order to rule out all possible diseases, and this may be determined to be a behavioral problem known as psychogenic polydipsia.
In healthy dogs who drink and urinate a lot, it can be due to boredom, lack of attention, or just because he likes drinking water. In cases like this, there are options you can try to curb your dog’s behavior to decrease the water intake. If you are able to find the reason behind your dog’s need to drink a lot of water, such as boredom, and you address it properly, his prognosis of recovery is good.
If your dog drinks a lot and urinates often, it may be a symptom of a medical issue. If your dog has this behavior, take him to his veterinarian for an evaluation. Since it is generally not possible to tell if this problem is medical or behavioral without lab work, a visit to your veterinarian is best, regardless.
Symptoms of Psychogenic Polydipsia in Dogs
Symptoms of this condition are typically straightforward. Symptoms include:
- Increased drinking
- Increased urination
- May have urination accidents in the house
Other signs might include:
Vomiting or diarrhea
Loss of appetite
Psychogenic polydipsia involves your dog drinking excessively with no apparent cause or reason. It means there is nothing actually systemically wrong with your dog; he is not sick, he is drinking excessive amounts of water. It is thought this condition can be behavioral in origin. The symptoms can be similar to diabetes or other illnesses your dog can develop, however, these conditions will need to be ruled out during the veterinarian’s diagnostic process.
Causes of Psychogenic Polydipsia in Dogs
It is believed this condition may be caused by your dog being bored, stressed, or simply because he enjoys drinking water. This can be especially common in dogs who are young but can also be diagnosed in any dog of any age.
Diagnosis of Psychogenic Polydipsia in Dogs
To begin her diagnostic process, your veterinarian will begin by collecting a verbal history from you. She will want to know when your dog’s symptoms started, if other pets in the household are experiencing similar symptoms, if and how his symptoms have progressed since starting, and any other details that may help with her diagnosis. She will continue by performing a physical exam on your dog. While his issue may be associated with him needing to urinate frequently she will want to check him over entirely in order to check for other simultaneous symptoms he may be experiencing. She will note all of his symptoms as it will assist her with her diagnostic process.
Laboratory diagnostic testing will consist mainly of blood work and urine testing. A complete blood count (CBC) and chemistry panel are typically the first blood work performed when doing diagnostic testing. Your veterinarian will also want to collect a urine sample from your dog to perform a urinalysis. This will provide more information on kidney and bladder function. These tests can confirm or rule out kidney dysfunction which can be caused by a variety of illnesses.
To diagnose if your dog has psychogenic polydipsia, your veterinarian may want to perform a random serum osmolality test. In theory, dogs with this condition are typically over hydrated with low serum sodium concentration and low serum osmolality. She may perform this test multiple times to check for changes with and without water restriction.
The urinalysis may need to be repeated, as well. In a dog with kidney issues or diabetes, the urine is typically very unconcentrated. However, in a case of psychogenic polydipsia, urine concentration will be re-established with water restriction alone. This proves the kidneys are working fine; your dog is simply over hydrated.
Additional testing may be conducted to rule out or confirm other systemic illnesses your veterinarian suspects your dog is experiencing.
Treatment of Psychogenic Polydipsia in Dogs
Once your dog is properly diagnosed and the cause is known, treatment can begin, based on your veterinarian's recommendations.
For a dog that is bored, more exercise is the best treatment. This may mean you need to take him out on walks more frequently. They do not necessarily have to be long walks, just something to break up his day. You may also want to consider enrichment for your dog as a way to keep his mind busy. Many breeds of dogs get very bored very quickly but human owners are busy and may not have time to physically exercise their dog more.
Using enrichment exercises their brain and keeps them occupied. You can make homemade enrichment for your dog or there are many types you can purchase online. They can be in a toy form where they have to manipulate the toy to get the treat, or dig through his entire toy box to get to the bottom where you hid his favorite toy. Another option can be a puzzle feeder for his food. Your dog has to manipulate the toy feeder until it drops out pieces of food. This can keep your dog busy anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour or more. Then, of course, you can do something simple like hide pieces of treats around your home while you are gone. It gives him something to look for and find as he wanders around your home.
If your dog wants more attention, then you have to either give it to him or find other ways to occupy him. This can also include more exercise and mental enrichment for your dog. If his condition is simply because he really likes water you can attempt to restrict his water intake. You must be careful with this however, as you do not want to unintentionally cause your dog to become dehydrated. Young dogs and puppies especially really enjoy drinking water, but they need it as they are more active and have higher metabolisms than older dogs.
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Recovery of Psychogenic Polydipsia in Dogs
Once you have a diagnosis and establish the source of your dog’s psychogenic polydipsia and address it properly, his prognosis of recovery is good. Simply offering him the attention he desires and keeping him occupied may be enough to curb his drinking out of boredom habit. It may take a few months to find something he likes enough to keep his brain stimulated and decrease is water intake, but with persistence you will be able to change his behavior. If you are patient and work with your dog, prognosis is good.
Psychogenic Polydipsia Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
Labrador Retriever, Akita, English Bull Mastiff
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