Why is my dog frequently trying to urinate but with only small amounts of urine released?

Original Question: Hello there! I listen each Saturday to your show on Newstalk 1010, very fun! I have a 10-year-old Golden Retriever and she has begun frequently urinating and it seems there’s the urge to go but little comes out. She is not drinking excessively. Is this a sign to see a vet? Please advise! Thank you! - Lee

Why is my dog frequently trying to urinate but with only small amounts of urine released? Apr 26, 2018

Hi Lee,

Thanks for your question.

This is quite simple. We call this symptom Pollakiuria. It means frequent urination with small amounts of urine released. It often indicates an irritation in the bladder or urethra.

Urinating is actually a complicated neurological task. If you think of the bladder as a balloon and the urethra like a tube leading from the balloon, then in order to urinate, you need to constrict the balloon/bladder and at the same time relax the tube/urethra to allow urine to flow. If the bladder is painful and the body tries to constrict it, then pain is experienced and it causes the system to spasm. This means the tube/urethra is squeezed during the spasm and the urine can’t pass well or the stream of urine ends prematurely.

The causes for this symptom can be infection, bladder stones, a bladder mass, cystitis (bladder inflammation) or prostatic disease to name a few. An infection is by far the most common cause. My recommendation is to have your veterinarian perform a urinalysis and a culture and sensitivity test on the urine. It will help determine if there is an infection or crystals that could indicate stones or abnormal cells. If these tests are negative, I move to imaging of the bladder and urethra to determine the cause.

I always like to make a special point of performing the ‘culture and sensitivity’ test on the urine. It is a test that is underperformed and it is very sensitive for finding infections. It also will indicate what bacteria is present and which antibiotics will work to eliminate it. Keep in mind that bringing in a sample of urine will guarantee that bacteria will be present in it from the container you use to catch the urine. I always perform a cystocentesis, which is a rapid procedure to obtain a urine sample directly from the bladder and it will ensure that it is uncontaminated and the results are reliable.

Best of luck.

Dr. Clayton Greenway

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