Q: Why is my epileptic dog who also suffers from separation anxiety inappropriately urinating in the house?

Original Question: "Kenzie is my 4 (1/2) year old Golden Retriever (blonde) and I have been having problems with her peeing in the house. Unfortunately, she suffers from seizures and has one at least once a month. Her last one was July 10th.  She is on 3 different medications every 12 hours. My vets (who have been amazing) did say that the meds may make her need to pee more. Having said that, both vets and I feel the peeing is more behavioural than related to the meds. Sadly, I lost my other dog Teka who was 10 years old last November and Kenzie always suffered from separation anxiety when I would take Teka somewhere without her. It got to the point that if I had to take Teka to the vet I would bring Kenzie with us. I also lost my oldest cat 2 months after Teka. Although Kenzie has peed on the floor when both Teka and Mel were around, it seems to have gotten worse lately and I'm at wits end.  I've tried everything including having someone come and let her out for me not long after I have left for work and it doesn't seem to matter which shift I'm working. Thank you!" - Alice

Vet Certified Answer:

Hi Alice,

To determine that this is behavioral will mean you have to rule out all other medical causes. 

My advice would be to perform a urine culture (not just a urinalysis) to make sure there is no urinary tract infection.  I would recommend you X-ray the bladder to make sure there are no stones that could be irritating the bladder.  Then I would perform blood work if it hasn't been done to make sure there are no underlying medical conditions that could cause her to drink or pee more.

I would strongly recommend that you have a consult with a veterinary neurologist to evaluate this issue of epilepsy.  That is a lot of medication to be on when you don't have a firm diagnosis.  A side effect of Phenobarbital and of potassium bromide is excessive drinking and urination.  A potential side effect of phenobarbital is anxiety! These most definitely could be contributing to the problem and I would recommend that you speak to a neurologist about potentially eliminating them.  I don't say this because I think the doctors are wrong, they may very well be right, but a better mix of these drugs may improve this situation.

I hate to just tell you to do more testing and visit more vets, I always try to find simple options for people, but in this case it’s just too complicated to simply make the diagnosis of a behavioral issue right now. 

Kenzie is lucky to have you and it’s clear that you love her very much.  She's a young dog and these issues need to be well understood if she is going to be on these medications for the rest of her life.  A few of them are very hard on the liver and can create long-term issues so you really need to have them evaluated thoroughly and have the epilepsy confirmed.

I wish you a lot of luck.  I think this is a bit too complex to resolve with the behaviorist because I know he'll just end up recommending evaluating these medical conditions before starting behavioral modification.

All the best. 

Dr. Clayton Greenway

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