Changes in Urination/Urinary Accidents: Why Is My Dog Peeing in the House?

If your dog starts having urinary accidents in the house, what is the first reason that comes to your mind?

Dogs don’t pee in the house because they are absentminded, don’t care, or are trying to get back at you for leaving them alone, losing their favorite toy, or not giving more treats. Dogs don’t like soiling their dens, and they don’t do it out of spite.

Changes in Urination/Urinary Accidents: Why Is My Dog Peeing in the House?

Don’t punish your dog for urinating indoors

Urinary accidents in housetrained dogs are signs of medical or behavioral problems. In either case, punishment is cruel and ineffective.

House-trained dogs will pee in the house because they:

  • could not hold it any longer
  • didn’t realize it was happening
  • are scared
  • are trying to appease you (submissive urination)

Submissive urination is not a health issue, but I felt I should include it here because it is essential to recognize it for what it is. Punishing it will only make matters worse.

Excessive drinking

Any condition causing excessive drinking (polydipsia) will result in lots and lots of urine.

This in itself can cause potty accidents in the house. In addition, because of the sheer volume, the dog will need to urinate more frequently and have an accident if they don’t get the opportunity.

Polydipsia and polyuria (producing lots and lots of pee) typically go hand in hand. Makes sense.

What goes in, must come out.

Polydipsia and polyuria can occur because the dog’s body is trying to flush something out of its system (infection, excess sugar, excess hormones, toxic substances, etc.), or the dog’s kidneys have lost the ability to conserve water.

Potential causes include:

  • diabetes
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Addison’s disease
  • liver or kidney disease
  • urinary tract infections (UTI)
  • some medications, such as steroids

A little note from my observation: Our guys love fresh snow. They love to run and play in it, and they love to eat as much of it as possible. And not long after, their bladders are ready to explode. I found it odd because snow doesn’t translate into a substantial volume of water. But I think it’s because it’s pure H2O with no minerals, no nothing. It just goes right through the system without any stops or delays. That’s the only way I can understand them having to pee so much after eating the snow.

And, yes, if Cookie is going to leak, she is most likely to do so on the day we get fresh snow.

Urinary tract infections (UTI)

Inflammation associated with urinary tract infections makes dogs feel like they have to pee ALL THE TIME.

I had a UTI once, and I can attest to that. It was a long time ago, and I still remember it. Taking a daily long bus trip to school (no toilet on the bus) was a living hell.

A dog with a UTI will most likely urinate frequently small amounts. There can also be blood in the urine. Accidents are likely to appear on the path to the door.

With some medical conditions, urination can be painful, and a dog will avoid urinating until they cannot hold it anymore.

Dogs suffering from obesity, arthritis, pain, stiffness, or neurological issues will sometimes alter their body posture, leading to urine retention and a predisposition towards UTIs. However, some infections do not cause symptoms, and regular urine checks are a good idea in these cases.

Jasmine got her first-ever UTI after her neck injury when her mobility was affected.

Straining to urinate

If your dog is straining to urinate and the urine stream looks thin or weak, see your vet as soon as possible.

Urinary tract obstruction is a medical emergency.

The cause can be stones in the urinary tract, injuries, tumors, or prostate disease (in male dogs).

Urinary incontinence

Urinary incontinence, even though it can also be associated with a urinary tract infection, is often another issue altogether.

Genuine urinary incontinence is caused by dogs’ inability to prevent their bladder from leaking. This is most commonly caused by poor control of the sphincter leading out of the bladder.

Obesity is a common risk factor. In addition, spayed female dogs can develop urinary incontinence due to low estrogen levels, which weakens the sphincter muscle.

Other causes

Other causes include congenital abnormalities, neurological issues, spinal cord injuries, or degeneration.

Only after all of these medical problems have been ruled out can a dog’s “accidents” be blamed on a behavioral problem, most of which are associated with some form of anxiety or fear.

Punishment is never the answer to inappropriate peeing… your dog is either sick or scared.

Related articles:
My Dog’s Pee

Further reading:
Dog is Having Accidents in the House, But Why?

Categories: Changes in urinationPolyuriaStraining to urinateSymptomsUrinary accidents

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Jana Rade edited by Dr. Joanna Paul BSc BVSc

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience. Dr. Joanna Paul BSc BVSc is our wonderful sponsor and has been kind to edit and fact-check my important articles.

  1. This is great information. It’s so upsetting when uninformed people mistakenly think dogs do things like this deliberately. There’s usually a medical rationale for such behavior.
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  2. This is great information. I wouldn’t had thought about playing in snow corresponding to needing to urinate more. However, as I think about it, my dog, Henry, certainly does fall into this category. I always thought he was just excited because there was snow to playing in and went outside more. But really, the first thing he does is urinate and then play in the snow, which includes diving into it and of course eating it. Yep, it’s a cycle. Such a great observation! And we have snow coming next week. I’ll be paying even more attention now.

  3. Very informative. My senior boy is somewhat prone to UTIs so if/when he has an accident in the house it’s a trip to the vet for him. Cookie playing in the snow sounds so adorable, even if it does lead to a few leaks. My dogs both love playing in the snow too.

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