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All of a sudden my 14-year-old male has started
urinating the house. This has never been a
problem before. Why now? Does it have to do with
his age?

Linda
Topeka, KS

You do not say whether you have a cat or a dog. However, in both species the causes of inappropriate urination can be divided into two broad categories: medical problems and behavioral problems.

Medical causes of house soiling (as urination in the house is known) include bladder infections, prostate problems, hormone imbalances, bladder inflammation and syndromes such as diabetes (in cats and dogs) and kidney disease that cause increased thirst and urine output.

Behavioral house soiling is very frustrating. Stress or anxiety may cause pets to urinate inside the house. Cognitive dysfunction (senility) is a cause of house soiling in older pets. Some pets, especially those that have not been neutered, may urinate indoors as a natural territory marking behavior.

A veterinarian should assess any pet that urinates inappropriately. Blood and urine tests (and, on occasion, X-rays and ultrasound) can check for a medical cause of house soiling. If none is found, then behavior modification may be beneficial.