PU/PD Series: Acute and Chronic Renal Insufficiency

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The nephron, the functional unit of the kidney, can be damaged in many ways to cause renal insufficiency.

Along with all the other organs that can cause PU/PD (increased urination and drinking known as polyuria/polydipsia), the kidneys themselves are sometimes to blame. While renal disease is complex, it is important to understand some acute and chronic kidney problems that lead to PU/PD.

With acute or chronic insults to the kidneys, the ability of the kidneys to concentrate urine is lost; in most cases, the renal tubules that are responsible for drawing water back out of the urine, are damaged. The pet urinates out a higher percentage of water, thus diluting the urine and leading to possible dehydration. The pet drinks more water to counter this loss, and is officially PU/PD. More

PU/PD Series: Feline Hyperthyroidism

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Methimazole (Tapazole) is a typical first-line treatment for feline hyperthyroidism

One of the strange realities of veterinary medicine is that cats become hyperthyroid, while dogs become hypothyroid. Even stranger: some treatments for hyperthyroid cats may leave them permanently hypothyroid, which does not appear to cause health problems the way it does in dogs.

What causes it? Hyperthyroidism is caused when the thyroid gland overproduces thyroid hormones, either because it has a benign or malignant growth, or because it has undergone “adenomatous hyperplasia.” The latter is by far the most common cause and is a fancy way of saying “it got bigger and is producing lots of hormones.” The thyroid is a bi-lobed structure that sits on either side of the trachea; and the increase in size can affect one or both sides. More

PU/PD Series: Diabetes Mellitus

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Nearly all diabetic dogs and over 50% of diabetic cats rely on insulin given by their owners.

Diabetes mellitus is a fairly common cause of polyuria/polydipsia in cats and dogs. In nearly all diabetic dogs and over 50% of diabetic are dependent on insulin given by owners. In the other 30-50% of cats, the disease can be treated with diet, exercise, and oral medications. Either way, it remains a difficult disease to manage.

What causes it? Diabetes Mellitus (DM) results from a drop in the insulin levels in the body (or, in some cases, the body’s perception that insulin levels have dropped). Insulin is produced by the pancreas and, among other things, acts on the liver, muscles, and fat deposits to cause them to take glucose out of the blood and store it as glycogen or fat. If the ß cells in the pancreas stop making insulin – or receptors in tissues stop recognizing it – the glucose stays at high levels in the blood, can spill into the urine, and can create a multitude of health concerns that we associate with DM, including cataracts, glaucoma, urinary tract infections, weakness in hind legs, and life-threatening ketoacidosis. More

Marijuana Intoxication in our Pets

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Medical marijuana edibles are attractive to some pets

Although it’s not very common to see dogs suffering from marijuana intoxication, we dealt with two such cases in one day last week. I took that as a sign that it was time to discuss the topic.

In one case, a 6-pound dog had ingested two chocolate chip and pot cookies 10 hours before calling us. The other case was a 50-pound pointer that had eaten one pot cookie the night before we saw him. The owners of both pets were forthcoming with information about what their pets ingested, which was very helpful.

Clinical Signs: The active ingredient in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (usually called THC), can cause loss of coordination, restlessness or sedation, dilated pupils, and slowed heart rate and breathing. Occasionally, the pet may lose bladder control. Clinical signs usually begin 30-90 minutes after ingestion. More

PU/PD: What It is and What Causes It

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Owners notice when they need to fill the water bowl more than usual

If you look at the daily schedule in a vet’s treatment room, you might see something like this next to the patient name: “K9: √ ears” (check for infection/irritation in this dog’s ears), “lag: ADR” (the owner of this bunny thinks it “ain’t doin’ right”), or “fel: Ⓥ” (this cat has been vomiting). These are all very useful shorthand notations that allow the vet to start thinking about how to approach the case before she enters the exam room.

Another very useful abbreviation is “PU/PD.” This is shorthand for a medical term: polyuria and polydipsia, which simply means urinating and drinking more than normal. There are many possible causes of PU/PD in cats and dogs; so it’s important to make a mental rule-out list that’s consistent with species, age, and other owner complaints, like vomiting or weight loss. The important thing here is to start with the “horses” (as in, “when you hear hoof beats, think horses [common diseases], not zebras [rare diseases]”). So, what are the PU/PD “horses” for cats and dogs and how do you diagnose them? More

Why is My Cat Peeing on my Bed?


Sometimes your cat turns his back on the litter box. But, why?

A cute little 7-year-old cat came into the clinic last week. She has a history of periods of inappropriate urination (she pees on beds and other furniture). The owner brought the cat to the clinic to rule out a urinary tract infection.

There are many possible reasons for a cat to urinate where it should not; some are primarily medical, some are primarily behavioral, and one is in between. The most common medical causes are urinary tract infection, bladder stones, bladder cancer, and orthopedic pain (like arthritis). Behavioral causes include territorial spraying/marking and rejection of litter box due to cleanliness, location, competition, or litter choice. One diagnosis that spans both categories is feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC; sometimes called feline interstitial cystitis). Our goal in these cases is to rule out the medical causes before we begin to explore the behavioral ones and FIC. More

Otitis in Dogs and Cats: The Ears Have It

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A good ear exam is necessary for diagnosing otitis in dogs and cats

Ask your average small animal vet what problem area they see the most, and you’ll probably hear, “Ears.” And, while dogs are most commonly treated for problem ears, similar problems affect cats, too. What is it about ears that make them so prone to disease and what can owners and their vets do about it?

First, it’s important to have some vocabulary so we can be precise about ear problems. The ear flap (which actually stands up on cats and some dogs) is called the “pinna.” The tube that leads from the pinna toward the eardrum is the “canal.” The eardrum is sometimes called a “tympanum” or “tympanic membrane.” Normal discharge from the ear is “cerumen.” An infection or inflammation on the pinna side of the tympanum is “otitis externa.” If it affects the little bones and nerves just on the other side of the tympanum, it’s “otitis media.” And, rarely, we see the infection move further toward the brain into the region responsible for balance; this is “otitis interna.” By far, otitis externa is the most frequently seen type of ear problem in the cat and dog. More

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