My Dog has Developed an Unusual Taste . . .

Dr. Barchas, We have an almost eight-year-old, long-coat Chihuahua whom we've have since she was 12 weeks old. She is spayed, receives regular veterinary (yearly)...
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Dr. Barchas,

We have an almost eight-year-old, long-coat Chihuahua
whom we’ve have since she was 12 weeks old. She
is spayed, receives regular veterinary (yearly)
care and dental cleanings also at that time. She
is the proper weight for her body size according
to her vet, which is a bit over six lbs. She is
house trained to a puppy paper inside for
urination (changed multiple times a day) and
outside each morning for a bowel movement. We
live in an upstairs apartment, and this particular
setup works well for all of us. She also (weather
permitting) takes a 2-3 mile walk each day with us
and really seems to enjoy this.

My question is that within the
last 3-4 weeks when she urinates on her puppy pad,
about half the time she will turn back around,
look at the spot and if we don’t stop her
*immediately*, she will begin licking it! Like I
mentioned, this is a brand-new behavior from an
otherwise healthy, seemingly happy little dog.

Should I make an appointment with her vet? We
don’t let her do this and do stop her
immediately, but I’m concerned that perhaps there
could be something physiologically wrong with her
that would cause this behavior?

Any insight on your part would be greatly

Thank you,
Woodland, CA

Your dog certainly sounds like she is getting all of the care and attention that she needs, and I commend you for that!

Three things could be causing your dog to try to consume her urine. The first (and most likely) is a change in her urine chemistry. This can lead to urine that smells unusual and interesting to her. And that may make her want to taste it. I realize that sounds strange, but dogs do plenty of strange things. Bladder infections and diabetes are the most frequent causes of sudden urine chemistry changes.

I recommend that you take your dog to the vet for an evaluation. The vet will probably want to run blood and urine tests. Don’t let your dog urinate for several hours before the appointment–that will make it easier for the vet to get a urine sample.

Of course, there is a chance that no medical problem exists. Some dogs develop tastes for unique flavors as they age. So, she may be drinking her urine because she suddenly likes the taste of urine. Like I said, dogs do some strange things.

Finally, there is a chance that she is engaging in attention-seeking behavior. The key to eliminating this sort of behavior is to make your dog believe that you don’t really care whether she tastes her urine . . . while at the same time discreetly preventing her from engaging in the behavior.

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