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My Dog is Taking Bathroom Breaks in the House

Your four-year-old terrier Buster is a very predictable dog. Buster eats his meals around the same time every day, and he walks on your right side even without the leash. You thought you had Buster’s moves figured out – until this week. You’ve come home several times to find puddles and/or piles in your living room. Since Buster was housetrained during puppyhood, you can’t figure out where this unwelcome behavior came from. You’ve asked your Bainbridge Island veterinarian to determine what’s behind Buster’s antics, and make them stop.

Undiscovered Medical Condition

At first glance, Buster’s ill-planned eliminations seem like behavioral errors. However, your vet knows Buster might have an undiagnosed medical problem. Perhaps Buster had an odd reaction to something he ate; or maybe he has contracted a nasty parasite infestation. A bladder infection or bladder stones might be the culprit; or maybe Buster has an unhealthy kidney or even kidney failure. Diabetes, or a liver or adrenal gland disease, could also be at fault.

Multi-pronged Diagnostic Effort

First, Buster will get a thorough physical exam; and your vet will also order a Complete Blood Profile and a urinalysis. By studying these test results, your vet can tell whether Buster’s internal organs are functioning as they should. Your vet can also discern whether Buster has developed a blood, thyroid, urinary tract, or adrenal gland condition. A simple, reliable fecal test shows whether Buster is being attacked by an internal parasite. Finally, your vet might ask for X-rays and/or ultrasound tests; as these highly visual results often indicate bladder or kidney stones, tumors, or internal organ problems.

Focusing on Behavior Problems

If Buster’s healthy as a horse, your vet will look at your dog’s behaviors. Your vet wants to know if Buster has ever urinated submissively or when he’s overly stimulated. Or, maybe Buster has urinated or defecated when he’s anxious or scared to death; or when he has decided to mark his territory. If Buster has shown separation anxiety symptoms, your vet needs those details. Tell your vet about recent changes to Buster’s routine, even if you think they’re not important.

Treatment Depends on the Cause

First, your vet will address Buster’s underlying medical condition; and this could easily solve the elimination errors. If your vet concludes that Buster needs to reboot his behavior, the vet might combine behavioral modification training with appropriate medication. If Buster hasn’t been fixed, your vet will strongly recommend you schedule that surgery. Intact male dogs make up a large percentage of in-house marking behaviors.

Your Bainbridge Island vet will keep tabs on Buster during his treatment. If Buster’s on medication, your vet will periodically repeat your dog’s blood work to monitor the meds’ effects.

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