When A Dog Pees A Lot — When To Worry And What To Do

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Does your dog go outside to pee more frequently than normal? Frequent urination can be a red flag indicating the presence of abnormalities or medical problems that warrant prompt veterinary attention. Excessive urination in dogs may also cause them to start leaving puddles inside the house even when they’re well house trained. The medical term for an increased frequency of urination is “polyuria”. 

What is normal?

If you’re familiar with the average number of times a typical dog pees, you will be able to notice potential problems in your pet dog. Typically, dogs pee at least once every 4-6 hours, although there are those that can go for 8-12 hours without feeling the need to pee. The frequency of urination in dogs can be influenced by several important factors, such as:

  • Diet
  • Water intake
  • Activity level
  • Changes in weather
  • Age and aging
  • Medical history
  • Level of house training
  • Ease of access or availability of appropriate potty areas

Puppies, with their small bladders and lack of bladder control, pee more often, at least every 2 hours (on average). This knowledge is particularly useful when you’re house training a puppy. Healthy adult dogs usually pee once every 4-6 hours. A lack of house training can cause puppies or even adult dogs to pee a lot around the house. Proper training and positive reinforcement can help address the problem. 

Senior dogs also tend to urinate more frequently than usual especially when they’re on certain medications that can cause them to pee more. Polyuria also comes naturally with aging. 

During warmer days of the year, a dog may need to drink more water especially if he spends more time outdoors. 

Pollakiuria vs Polyuria

“Pollakiuria” refers to the increase in the frequency of passage of urine, but the volume is reduced. On the other hand, “polyuria” is an increase in urine production. There is usually an increase in urine volume and frequency of peeing. Polydipsia (an increase in thirst and intake of water) usually accompanies polyuria. 

Reasons for Excessive Peeing in Dogs

There are 3 main types of polyuria (frequent urination) in dogs. These include:

Physiological polyuria — This is a normal reaction to increased water intake, which can be associated with a behavioral problem. 

Pharmacological polyuria — This type occurs as a consequence of increased salt intake or medications (such as diuretics or steroids) that cause frequent urination. 

Pathological polyuria — Associated with metabolic conditions like kidney failure. 

Problems of the lower urinary tract

The lower part of the urinary tract is composed of the bladder and urethra. Dogs with issues affecting their lower urinary tract often have the urge to urinate even before the bladder is full and the urine that is passed is often in dribbles. The dog may appear to squat for a considerable length of time before urine comes out. The pain and discomfort may also cause the dog to whine or cry out while peeing. 

Common problems of the urinary tract that causes excessive peeing in dogs include:

Bacterial cystitis – An infection within the urinary bladder that is caused by certain species of bacteria

Bladder or urethral stones

Tumors or polyps growing within the urethra or urinary bladder. 

Dogs with a bladder infection or bladder stones often appear to pee a lot, straining while peeing, and in some cases, urine may appear bloody or dark-colored. Cases of urinary tract infections (UTI) in dogs is more common among older female dogs than in male dogs. 

Conditions that Cause Increased Thirst 

“Polydipsia” or the excess intake of water will consequently cause an excess in the production of urine and an increase in the frequency of peeing. The top causes of increased thirst and excessive peeing in dogs include:

Hormonal imbalances — Common conditions are diabetes mellitus and Cushing’s disease (hyperadrenocorticism). Cushing’s disease is caused by excessive production of the hormone cortisol. Diabetes occurs when a dog’s pancreas stops producing enough insulin hormone which is responsible for regulating glucose levels in the body. 

Kidney disease — Chronic kidney disease and kidney infection (pyelonephritis)

Liver disease

Pyometra – Infection of the uterus

Certain medications — anti-seizure medications, cortisone-containing drugs, and diuretics.

Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence in dogs is characterized by the involuntary leaking or dribbling of urine which can occur anytime regardless of whether a dog is awake or sleeping. The problem is quite common in dogs, especially females that have been spayed. In this case, it’s called “spay incontinence”. Studies have shown that urinary incontinence in dogs following spay surgery (ovariohysterectomy) has an incidence rate of 13-20%. But there are also cases of urinary incontinence affecting intact bitches and male dogs.

Take note, however, that the incontinence in spayed dogs is not directly linked to the surgical procedure itself but the way by which the dog’s back is stretched while undergoing the procedure. Back injuries that happen during spaying may be an important reason for the loss of bladder control, especially as female dogs grow older. 

Urinary incontinence is also common among senior dogs. The problem could be a consequence of an underlying health problem or an emotional issue associated with stress or a change in the daily routine of the household. A senior dog that is peeing a lot or has a distinct change in water consumption and appetite should be checked by a veterinarian. 

Common causes of urinary incontinence in dogs

Decreased sphincter control– the problem is predominant among older spayed females.

Abnormalities in the anatomy of the reproductive system — common examples include incompetence of the urethral sphincter, ectopic ureters, ureterocele, patent urachus, and uretero-vaginal fistula to name a few. 

Urge incontinence — when a dog has such a strong urge to empty his bladder, causing the animal to urinate very frequently or peeing in inappropriate locations. 

Damage to the nerves or spinal cord that supply the urinary bladder

Pathological causes — Diabetes, Cushing’s disease, kidney disease, thyroid disease, arthritis, estrogen deficiency.

Diet 

A dog’s food intake can also affect the frequency and amount of urination. Wet or canned pet food is formulated with more moisture compared to kibble. Pet food that contains more salt can also cause an increase in thirst and frequency of peeing in dogs. 

Thermoregulation

Thermoregulation or the way by which dogs regulate their body heat may also influence urine frequency and output. Since they don’t have enough sweat glands to release heat, they pant. And panting can cause them to drink more as stored water in their body is lost when they pant. This is also another plausible explanation of why dogs pee a lot. 

Marking

Urine marking is a behavior that is more commonly displayed among dogs that are intact, which means they have not been spayed or neutered. It’s more common in intact males than in females. They use their urine to claim and mark their territory, thus it’s often called ‘territorial marking’. This is one reason why your dog pees so often during your outdoor excursions. 

Urine marking is different from normal urination. With normal urination, the dog pees with a long and sustained stream. On the other hand, urine marking is characterized by short bursts of urine and may only be a few dribbles at a time. One way to address urine marking indoors is to have the dog spayed (females) or neutered (males). If you have just added another dog to the household, be prepared to deal with a urine-marking contest as your dogs adjust to each other’s presence and sharing of their living space.

Communication

There are several ways by which dogs communicate with each other. Peeing is just one of them. Their urine has pheromones that carry revealing information about the dog’s mood, intent, and other important messages they want to convey to other dogs, including claiming territory and giving warning signs for other dogs to keep off. In dogs that are in season, pheromones present in their urine can help attract potential mates. 

Social or psychological triggers

Anxiety, over-excitement, or experiencing something new can also cause dogs to pee accidentally. If your dog is suffering from anxiety issues, such as separation anxiety, there are several ways to deal with the behavior, including positive reinforced training and desensitization. You may also consult a professional trainer or pet behaviorist for the most effective solution to your pet’s problem. 

When to Call your Vet

Considering that frequent urination in dogs can possibly signal a health problem, it is a good idea to make an appointment with your veterinarian. Be sure to pay close attention to the frequency of urination, the amount of urine, the color, smell, and whether there are other accompanying symptoms, such as discomfort or pain when peeing, loss of appetite, lethargy, etc.  

In addition to a thorough medical examination, there will be a need for several laboratory procedures to be performed, such as urinalysis, culture, and sensitivity tests. X-rays and/or ultrasound, CT scans, or cytoscopic exams may also be recommended to see if there are bladder stones that are present. The results can help your veterinarian make a proper diagnosis so the appropriate treatment can be given to your pet.

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