Why dogs drink urine

Written by adele eliot
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Why dogs drink urine
Drinking urine is unlikely to cause health problems in your dog (dog image by Ramona smiers from Fotolia.com)

Owners might find it both disgusting and worrying to see their dog drinking urine. Not only does it seem unhygienic, but you might also be worried that your dog will become sick as a result. There are several theories why dogs might drink urine, as well as steps you can take to resolve the issue.

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Significance

Dogs are known for coprophagia (eating faeces). Drinking urine is a less common, but it can occur suddenly in dogs. Sometimes, it can indicate that your dog has an underlying illness, such as a urinary tract infection. Other causes of urine drinking are thought to be behavioural, and might be a sign that your dog needs extra training. If you are concerned about your dog's behaviour, it is important to consult a vet to rule out any serious conditions.

Causes

The exact reason dogs drink urine is unknown. This behaviour has been seen in dogs that have a urinary tract infection. The illness causes them to become very thirsty, so they will drink whatever liquid they can find. The behaviour could also be due to environmental reasons. According to vet Mike Richards, DVM, this is especially the case for dogs that were kept in pens as young puppies.

Misconceptions

If you see your dog drinking urine, you may worry that he will become ill. If a dog drinks his own urine, it's unlikely to cause him any harm, as there is nothing in there that wasn't in the dog's body already. At the same time, it won't be good for your dog's hydration, so try to minimise the amount of urine he drinks. It is also important not to let it drink another animal's urine, which could contain harmful substances.

Prevention/Solution

If your dog's behaviour is caused by a urinary tract infection, then treating the infection should curb his urine drinking habit. However, if you are not sure why your dog is drinking urine, then he might need re-training. According to vet Dr. James Glover, if your dog is drinking urine indoors, then cleaning the area with an odour-eliminating cleanser will discourage your dog from going to the toilet in the same place.

Expert Insight

Vet Mike Richards, DVM, suggests that dogs that were kept in small pens as puppies, bored dogs and female dogs experiencing hormonal changes are more likely to drink urine. With a learnt behaviour, advice from a vet or professional dog trainer might be useful. Dr. James Glover also suggests that urine drinking in puppies is the dog's attempt to hide the fact they urinated in their crate.

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