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Matthew Sisk: Midnight bathroom trips trouble veterinarian
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I once had a nightmare where a lump under a welcome mat was lurching toward me as I hid under the covers. It sounds weird now, but at the time, I was inconsolable.

Still, I haven’t awakened in an inferno. So I can imagine how Lemmy’s family felt the night their house burned, but I can never truly know.

The reason I bring this up is that the family has recently relived the ordeal on a smaller level. No, their new house isn’t smoldering. But Lemmy has taken to nudging his parents while barking, all in the middle of the night.

Given his past, especially how he saved the family from the fire, this is disconcerting. I can only imagine how their hearts must have pounded the first night he woke them up after the fire.

Still, my job isn’t to bog down in empathetic worry. No, my job is to find out why he’s waking them up to go outside several times a night.

The story is he walks the yard, repeatedly pausing to urinate small amounts. Sometimes, nothing comes out. And with urine, it isn’t the thought that counts. If your body wants it out, and nothing is eliminated, something is wrong.

A urinalysis shows a raging infection. Red blood cells, white blood cells, bacteria and a few crystals. It’s a mess.

But most worrisome is the presence of rafts of epithelial cells, shed from the lining of the urinary tract. This can be a sign of significant inflammation, such as infection or stone formation and associated trauma. But it can also be a portent of cancer.

Bladder tumors in dogs often shed clumps of bizarre surface cells. They may have multiple nuclei, or become 10 times their usual size.

Luckily, all of the cells in Lemmy’s sample look normal, just angry. And that can make a mammal feel the urge, but have little to no urine stored away. Thus, the frequent tries in the yard at midnight.

I start Lemmy on an antibiotic. In two weeks, I’ll recheck his urine to ensure the infection is eliminated.

Matthew Sisk is a practicing veterinarian from Habersham County. Have questions about your pet? He can be reached at

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