I have a spayed, female, four-year-old dog who hasn’t urinated in the house since she was four months old. Suddenly, after she’s been resting for a while, I find wet spots in her bedding.
Dogs, like humans, can experience several problems when it comes to urination. One problem, called pollakiuria, is the need to urinate more frequently than normal: many times during the day and/or night. The second problem is polyuria (when the body makes and passes more urine than is normal). A third problem is stranguria (straining to urinate), while a fourth problem is urinary incontinence.
“Any change in urinary patterns for your dog should be reported to a veterinarian as soon as possible, as it may indicate an underlying medical issue,” says Dr. Jerry Klein, Chief Veterinary Officer for the AKC. “It’s important for the dog owner to differentiate between an increase in the frequency of urination versus an increase in urine production because each may have a different cause, so it can greatly help in diagnosing the underlying problem.”
How Often Should My Dog Pee?
Dogs seem to have an endless supply of urine to mark their territory. However, under usual circumstances, healthy adult dogs need to relieve themselves three to five times a day, according to Dr. Klein. The dog’s breed should not make a difference in the amount of urination unless that breed is predisposed to renal (kidney) issues.
Of course, there are exceptions. Puppies drink more water, have smaller bladders, and pee more often, while older dogs may become incontinent. Female dogs coming into heat will often urinate more frequently. Anxious dogs experiencing schedule modifications, changes in housing, or other major alterations in their routines may begin to pee in the house; the same goes for dogs experiencing separation anxiety or exhibiting submissive behavior.
When to Call Your Veterinarian
Dr. Klein advises notifying your veterinarian immediately if:
- If your pet has blood in their urine or is lethargic, not eating, or vomiting.
- Any time your dog strains to urinate or can’t pass any urine. This is considered an emergency.
- When your dog’s frequency, color, or amount of urination changes.
Possible Causes of Frequent or Abnormal Urination
There are many possible causes for changes in urination, so diagnosis is complex and requires a veterinarian’s expertise. Here are some of the conditions your veterinarian may diagnose that could cause your pet to urinate more often or in greater amounts.
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
Any dog can get a urinary tract infection, but this is more often seen in senior dogs and female dogs. The most common cause is bacteria or a weakened immune system. Dogs with UTIs may try to urinate very frequently, strain or whine when attempting to urinate, or have blood in their urine.
Urethral Sphincter Mechanism Incompetence (USMI)
Urethral Sphincter Mechanism Incompetence can affect up to one out of five spayed female dogs and develops an average of 2.9 years after the dog has been spayed. A decrease in estrogen levels appears to reduce bladder storage capacity and lessen sensitivity, contributing to leakage of urine, especially when the dog is resting.
Male dogs may urinate more frequently when they have prostate conditions like benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), prostatitis, or prostate cancer. About half of intact male dogs will have BPH by age four, but many will have no symptoms. Prostatitis is a bacterial infection usually occurring in intact dogs, while prostate cancer is seen more frequently in neutered males.
Pyometra frequently affects middle-aged or senior intact female dogs within one or two months after the end of a heat cycle, but it can also happen in young dogs. If a female dog isn’t bred, the uterus lining thickens because of hormonal changes during and following heat, sometimes forming pockets where bacteria may develop and lead to pyometra. Symptoms include drinking and urinating more than normal and blood-stained vaginal discharge.
Cystitis is an inflammation of the bladder and can be caused by several diseases and conditions. The most common cause of cystitis in dogs is a bacterial infection. Bladder stones, tumors, or polyps in the bladder, and abnormalities in a female dog’s anatomy may also cause cystitis. Dogs with cystitis frequently squat, strain, and produce small amounts of urine.
Kidney or Liver Disease
A dog with kidney disease may urinate in large quantities, as the disease affects the body’s ability to eliminate toxic waste. Several signs that a dog has liver disease are fluid retention in the abdomen and excessive urination and thirst.
Diabetes mellitus is the type of diabetes seen most often in dogs. Symptoms of this metabolic disorder include excessive thirst and increased urination. Diabetes insipidus is less common, resulting from an inadequate amount of an antidiuretic hormone. Dogs affected produce large volumes of diluted urine, which prompts them to drink large amounts of water to compensate.
The most common symptoms of canine bladder cancer are urinating in small amounts frequently, difficulty urinating, and bloody or discolored urine. While bladder cancer is relatively rare, it is more common in certain breeds.
Cushing’s Disease, also known as hyperadrenocorticism, is usually caused by a tumor in the pituitary gland. It mostly occurs in older dogs and causes them to drink and urinate more than usual.
Urinary pH Imbalance
Urinary pH imbalance may allow bacteria to thrive and crystals or stones to form in the urinary tract. Symptoms include increased thirst and frequency of urination, an urgency to urinate, bloody urine, or inappropriate urination. The ideal urine pH should be 7.0–7.5 in dogs. Ingredients in a dog’s diet may impact the pH level.