Why does my dog pee so much?
Let’s face it: nature calls. Bathroom breaks are a natural, normal phenomenon… but when it feels like nature has your dog on speed dial, you may wonder: why does my dog pee so much?
We hear questions about canine urination all the time:
- What is too much pee?
- Why do dogs pee in the house?
- Why does my dog pee when he sees me?
- Why do dogs mark their territory?
The list goes on.
We’re here to help pet parents navigate the wonderful weirdness of life with a dog—and that includes all things pee.
Dog pee: How much is too much?
EXPERT TIP: You can find out whether it’s time to talk to your vet about PU/PD by setting out a measured amount of water and tracking how much is left in the bowl at the end of the day. Do this for about a week. Although water intake will change with things like exercise and temperature, typical canine water intake should be in the 80-100ml/kg/day range.
Just as your dog has his or her unique personality, they’ll also have a unique pee routine. Trust us: we’ve seen it all. Some dogs refuse to pee when it’s raining, or prefer to pee off-leash in the backyard. These quirks are part of what make our pets so loveable; generally speaking, they’re not cause for concern.
When it comes to quantity, this is tricky (and, let’s be honest, unpleasant) to measure. Few pet parents would want—or need—to follow their dog around for a day to catch and quantify how much urine they produce.
When your dog pees more, they drink more to replace the output of fluid with an intake of water. This sounds simple, but where things get complicated is when your dog starts peeing (and drinking) more than usual. There are two medical terms us vets use here: polyuria (PU)—an overproduction of urine—goes hand-in-paw with polydypsia (PD), excessive water intake.
Even when your dog seems to be in a healthy range for pee output and fluid intake, there are still pee-related problems that may pop up over time. Next, we’ll tackle a list of questions and quirks we’ve heard from pet parents like you:
Why do dogs pee in the house?
Inappropriate urination refers to peeing or pooping in non-designated areas. There are plenty of reasons why puppies or adult dogs might get in the bad habit of peeing in the house.
Most often, this behaviour traces back to improper or inconsistent training.
If your dog was never properly potty trained, or hasn’t been consistently cued for what to do when it’s time to go, they may pee in the house simply because they’re at a loss. Rather than dwell on the problem, here’s how to shift into solution mode:
EXPERT TIP: Use vet-recommended, healthy treats to reinforce bathroom breaks. Did you know we supply some options in our Waggle Mail dog subscription boxes and Waggle Mail Puppy packs?
Keep your dog on a leash when you’re around. This makes it easier for you to pick up on their cues, and to give consistent and prompt responses. If you notice your dog starts to do what looks like a pee dance, lead them to whatever part of your home or yard you’ve designated as their bathroom and offer praise and encouragement before and after.
If you catch your dog in the act, do your best to distract or interrupt them but do not punish them. Instead, head to their potty to finish the deed.
Why does my dog pee everywhere in the house?
If you’re seeing and smelling pee stains around the house, ask yourself: am I taking my puppy or dog out for enough pee breaks?
Follow this rule of thumb:
Even though most adult dogs can hold their bladders for up to 10-12 hours, they should be offered a pee break at least every 8 hours. This means the average adult dog should be given the opportunity to relieve themselves about 3-5 per day.
Puppies, on the other hand, have much smaller and more sensitive bladders. Typically, a puppy can hold their bladder for 1 hour longer than their age in months. This means that a 3-month-old puppy should be given a bathroom break at least every 4 hours. (Yes, this includes overnight.)
Why does my dog pee on my bed?
This one baffles a lot of pet parents. Why would your dog pee in a place that smells like their favourite human?
A few things may be at play:
EXPERT TIP: Cleaning dog pee out of a mattress can be tough. Start with an enzymatic cleaner like the ones we provide puppy parents with in our Waggle Mail Puppy packs; if the smell still lingers, consider restricting their access to the room or saving up for a new bed.
- Anxiety. If your dog has 24/7 access to your bed, conditions like dog separation anxiety might cause them to pee out of anxiety when you’re away. Noise and storm phobias might also scare the pee right out of them when they’re snoozing on your bed. In these cases, they can’t really help it.
- Marking. Some dogs consider you (and anything associated with you) their territory, so peeing is one way of layering their scent onto yours. This isn’t always a protective or dominant behaviour; sometimes it’s your dog’s way of expressing love and allegiance (as strange as that may seem). Sharing is caring, right?
Why does my dog pee on me?
Another strange and gross dog quirk you may be able to chalk up to some form of communication or marking. Marking is a normal dog behaviour often seen in intact (AKA ready to reproduce) dogs—more on this in a minute—but essentially what’s happening is they’re putting their mark on objects or people they lovingly believe to be theirs.
Why does my dog pee on other dogs?
This one can make for awkward dog park interactions! If your dog tends to urinate on other dogs, there are three main reasons why this is happening:
- Claiming or dominance. Your dog may be claiming the other as a companion, or they may be trying to claim their territory. Either way, it’s not very polite. In this case, keeping them on leash and rewarding them when they are behaving is the way to go.
- An innocent accident. Sometimes the other dog just wanders too close to the splash zone. Unpleasant, yes, but also unintentional!
- Anxiety and excitement. Sometimes seeing other dogs (and the prospect of a new friend) can trigger excitement and even anxiety. Both of these may spur on the need to pee, even if it’s while they’re exchanging sniffs.
If this behaviour is persistently happening between your own dogs, keep them separate unless you’re around to observe. That way you can scan for possible triggers and reward good behaviours.
Why do dogs mark their territory?
EXPERT TIP: Male dogs, especially intact male dogs, tend to mark most. Neutering will reduce marking in 80% of males but only eliminates the behaviour in 40%. If the goal is total elimination, you’ll want to layer in some training.
Marking is a common form of canine communication. There’s a lot of information in dog pee: other dogs can tell if the urine belongs to a male or a female, and whether that dog is intact or has been spayed or neutered.
If your dog walks include stopping every few metres for a quick pee, chances are they’re excited about all the smells and information they’re being flooded with. On the other hand, it may be a stress response; best to explore this with your veterinarian.
Why does my dog pee when he (or she) sees me?
Some dogs have a knack for springing a leak the second they see you. Excitement (“Mom, you’re home!”) or submissive urination (“Eek! Someone new is heading my way!”) might be at play.
Why does my dog pee when he is excited?
Excitement can stem from genuine joy, or it might be an appeasement behaviour to demonstrate submissiveness. If you’re routinely stepping into excited pee puddles, try these four strategies:
- Determine what triggers the behaviour. Is your dog peeing after a energetic greeting when you get home from a day at the office? Is it when your dog meets new dogs and people? Keep track so you infuse zen into these types of interactions.
- Stay calm. Speaking of zen, it’s helpful to remember that dogs are exceptional at reading and matching our energy. As much as you want to puppy talk to them and give them smooches when you get home, resist the urge. Ignore them or act calm and collected when you first get home and ask people they meet to do the same.
- Don’t scold them. Remember: peeing is a normal dog behaviour. Your dog may be struggling with bladder control, but that’s no reason to punish or scold. Instead, correct the behaviour with positive reinforcement.
- Boost their confidence. Teach them tricks, enroll them in a puppy class, and make a point of continually introducing them to new places, people, and dogs.
Why does my dog lick its pee?
Ew, right? There are a few reasons why your dog might dabble in dribble:
- They’re cleaning up. If your dog has been scolded for peeing or has been cooped up for a while and decided to take matters into their own hands, they may simply be trying to remove the evidence.
- They’re learning. Dogs have an incredible sense of smell. All dogs have a Jacobson’s organ (AKA vomeronasal organ) that is designed to sniff out chemical communication signals. Dogs that lick pee may be getting the source of the smell closer to this organ.
One reason to curb your dog’s urge to lick pee is leptospirosis. This is a disease caused by a spirochete bacteria that can be found in soil, water, and the urine of affected animals. It’s most common in temperate or tropical climates with significant annual rainfall, but can still crop up in more arid climates. Some symptoms include increased urination (frequency and amount), vomiting, fever, shivers, lethargy, muscle tenderness, and red or yellow mucous membranes, such as the gums and around the eyes.
Is dog pee supposed to smell?
Yep! Urine is one of the body’s ways of removing bodily waste. The big scent offender in pee is ammonia, which is also found in our pee. The more dehydrated a dog is, the more concentrated the urine (and therefore the smell) is.
Other urine components that can cause a smell or change in smell include uric acid, bacteria, glucose (sugar from the body), and hormones. If you’ve noticed a change to the smell of your dog’s pee, a vet check is a good idea. Other symptoms that may go along with the change in smell are increases in pee frequency and volume, colour changes, and increased water intake.
Why does my dog pee while sleeping?
If your dog is leaking urine while sleeping, this might be a sign of actual urinary incontinence and not inappropriate urination or another quirky behaviour.
Incontinence means your dog isn’t aware they’re peeing, often because they’re unconscious or asleep. Although dogs of all ages and sexes can be affected, there are estimates that more than 20% of spayed females—particularly larger breeds—will develop incontinence as they approach their middle-age or senior years.
If your dog is showing signs of incontinence, it’s time to talk to your vet. Especially if this is paired with PU/PD, there could be any number of contributing conditions and differentials. Your veterinarian will likely want to test your dog’s urine and even their blood with a small sample to help rule out medical causes. Common conditions like urinary tract infections, kidney disease, and diabetes can all be easily diagnosed with bloodwork and urine.
How to manage excessive urination
First and foremost, book in with your family veterinarian to help get to the root of the problem. If you have a pooch that has been diagnosed with a particular illness or disease that increases urination, here are three tips to help them (and your carpet) out:
- Increase the number of potty breaks. Even if your dog is usually great at letting you know when they need to go, certain conditions may make it harder for your dog to hold their bladder and may not make it outside (or to you) in time. If you notice accidents are happening every 4 hours, do your best to schedule a potty break every 3. The last thing we want is for your poor, sweet dog to feel guilty for something outside their control!
- Consider an indoor to-go solution. If your schedule prevents you from meeting increased potty break needs, try a potty pad or pet loo. Teach your dog to use it by dabbing trace amounts of their urine on it and leaving it in an area where they’ve had accidents before.
- Restrict water before bedtime (if your vet says it’s okay). If you’re struggling to wake every 3 hours to let your dog out, ask your veterinarian about adjusting their water intake. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to remove their water supply 2-3 hours before bed.
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Dr. C. Beck
Registered Veterinarian, Founder & CEO