Help! My Dog Is Peeing Inside

dog bed wetting

‘At A Glance (Details Below)’ What To Do

If A Dog Urinates In The House

  1. Urinating in the bed is almost never a behavioural issue
  2. Most cases are an easily treatable form of incontinence
  3. A loss of toilet training in an older dog is often caused by urinary infection, excessive thirst and mobility or cognition problems

Now dive deeper…

Let’s set the record straight: a lot of people have got dogs peeing inside all wrong. To me, never more spectacularly wrong than in the above example. Blaming dogs for something they can’t control? In reality, absolutely nothing could be further from the truth.

The easiest way to illustrate this is to talk about puppies and crates. Crate training is basically a ‘puppy toilet training hack’ built entirely around the knowledge that the last place a dog will choose to pee is in their own bed. Literally the very last place on Earth.

If you have a dog that urinates inside, it’s important to work out whether it’s by choice or accident.

  1. Dogs that used to be toilet trained but now wet their bed, leak drops of urine or leave puddles where they lie down usually have a problem. This page is to help those dogs and their owners.
  2. Dogs that choose to urinate inside when it’s easy to get out usually have problems with their toilet training. If that’s your dog, read our three steps to toilet training but you also need to know it’s very hard to stop some undesexed males.

Bedwetting is usually the most obvious difference between these two groups.

Why Dogs Pee In Their Bed

So if wetting the bed isn’t behavioural, what causes it?

Urethral Sphincter Mechanism Incompetence

USMI is when the bladder’s closing pressure gets low enough that urine begins to force its way out. This especially happens during sleep when there’s no longer any conscious part of urine control.

If a mature female dog is leaking puddles or wetness where she sleeps, USMI is usually the reason. We used to call this disease Hormone Responsive Incontinence. Although USMI occurs in all dogs, read here how the risk of incontinence increases with desexing.

Treatment is usually easy and successful using oestrogens or smooth muscle stimulants. To diagnose USMI we must first rule out the other causes…

Urinary Tract Infection

In my view, the biggest mistake vets can make is assuming an older female dog has USMI just because she’s leaking urine. It just so happens that a UTI is also common in female dogs and the angry, reactive bladder can mimic the signs. That’s why all incontinent dogs should have urine testing before a diagnosis.

Recurrent or repeated signs of urinary problems can be caused by a bladder stone, or a structural problem with the bladder like ectopic ureter. These are easily recognised via an ultrasound examination.

Overflow Incontinence

Just the other day I was nearly fooled when an older female dog who started wetting her bed turned out to have overflow incontinence. That’s when dogs drink more than they used to and the extra urine causes them to start having trouble getting out in time. I discovered the problem by noticing that the urine was excessively dilute and ordered a blood test. If you suspect your dog is drinking more, read our guide on how much a dog should drink and why dogs drink too much.

Read here how Millie’s wetting in the house was linked to a toxic jerky treat.

Mobility Problems

It’s obvious but easily overlooked. When dogs have arthritis, they are slow to get out of bed and therefore urine leakage is more likely. If we suspect painful joints, a short antiinflammatory trial is a great way to answer the question.

Cognitive Dysfunction

Very old dogs (usually over 15) can start to forget their toilet training or get confused or lost in the house. The best solution is to start taking them out to the toilet, just like you might for an elderly relative. However, just because a dog is old doesn’t mean they are going senile and the other causes of incontinence still need to be ruled out first.

Read more about cognitive dysfunction syndrome here.

Neurological Diseases

Although a rarer cause, anything that interrupts the nerve supply to the urinary tract can cause incontinence.  All the diseases listed on our disk or spinal problems page can possibly cause loss of control. Most of these diseases should show other signs as well.

Excitement Incontinence

Several readers suggested adding dogs who leak urine when excited. In puppies, this is very common and often confused with toilet training problems. There’s not much that can be done except to hope they grow out of it. If they don’t, all you can do is not get them too excited (if it bothers you) and accept that they can’t control it.

In summary, you can see that incontinence isn’t so simple. To a vet, it’s not too complicated either. By the time your dog has had a physical, blood and urine test, the diagnosis and treatment are usually clear. The common causes of wetting the bed are easily treated, and even if they aren’t, isn’t it so much better to know it’s not your dog’s fault?

Have something to add? Comments are welcome below and will appear within 24 hours of lodging.
By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. These help topics are from a series regularly posted on Facebook and Twitter. Subscribe via email here to never miss a story! The information provided here is not intended to be used as a substitute for going to the vet. If your pet is unwell, please seek veterinary attention.

Help! My Dog Is Drinking A Lot

dog-drinking-water

‘At A Glance (Details Below)’ What To Do

If A Dog Drinks More Than Usual

  1. When dogs drink more it’s usually hormonal or kidney issues
  2. These are all easily diagnosed on routine blood & urine testing
  3. The top cause in small breed dogs is Cushings Disease
  4. If testing is normal, there’s usually nothing to worry about

Now dive deeper…

I’ve talked before about cats drinking too much water. Now let’s look at the common reasons why dogs drink excessive amounts of water. Just like for cats, drinking too much in dogs is potentially serious and needs investigation.

First, though, how much is too much? The first thing to do is measure the amount.

How Much Water Should A Dog Drink A Day?

A dog under normal ambient temperatures and exercise levels should drink no more than 70mL per kilogram of body weight per day. For example, a 10kg dog should drink less than 700mL per day. Dogs drinking more than this amount should be investigated by a vet.

Most dogs with excessive thirst will drink well over 100mL/kg/day. To measure the actual amount, mark the level of water in the bowl and after 24 hours refill it to the same mark using a measuring jug. Make sure all sources of water have been accounted for and other animals have their own separate water supplies.

If the result is high, here’s what your vet will be thinking about.

Why Dogs Drink Excessive Water

There are five common reasons why you might notice your dog wanting more water without other signs of illness.

Then there are the common causes where there will also usually be other, more obvious signs of a problem. These include:

There are in fact many other rare causes such as Addison’s disease, portosystemic shunts, hypercalcaemia (usually from cancer) or diabetes insipidus but don’t worry too much about these. The trick is simply to know that routine blood and urine testing should get you a long way towards finding the answer. Whatever the cause, drinking excessively is a sign to take seriously.

Early detection is vital for some diseases. So if you have a dog who starts drinking more, even if they don’t seem unwell, let us take a look! It might be nothing, or it might just be the clue that saves your dog.

Related: Why dogs pee inside

Have something to add? Comments are welcome below and will appear within 24 hours of lodging.
By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. These help topics are from a series regularly posted on Facebook and Twitter. Subscribe via email here to never miss a story! The information provided here is not intended to be used as a substitute for going to the vet. If your pet is unwell, please seek veterinary attention.

Help! My Cat Is Drinking A Lot

cat drinking water

‘At A Glance (Details Below)’ What To Do

If A Cat Drinks More Than Usual

  1. It could be due to diabetes, kidney or thyroid disease
  2. These are all easily diagnosed on routine blood & urine testing
  3. The top three causes can all be managed or treated if detected in time
  4. If testing is normal, there’s usually nothing to worry about

Now dive deeper…

All jokes aside, cats really do have a drinking problem. I’ve talked before about cats not drinking enough water but that’s nothing compared with what happens when cats are too thirsty.

A cat who starts drinking or urinating more than they used to is almost certainly in big trouble. The good news is, it’s not an emergency and there’s plenty you can do if you find the cause before your cat gets sick.

Why Do Cats Drink Too Much?

There are five common reasons why you might notice your cat wanting more water.

The last one should be obvious but it really is surprising how much more water cats need to drink on dry foods. Diarrhoea should also be obvious but many cats don’t use litter boxes so you might need to go poking about (quite literally).

Whatever the cause, drinking excessively is a sign to take seriously. Any change in a cat’s behaviour almost never happens just by chance. If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this blog, that’s it.

More About Kidney Disease

I’d like to say a few more words about kidney disease; it’s the most common cause of drinking excessively and the most common illness of older cats. Most cat lovers will at some point have to face it so it’s good to be prepared.

Correct treatment of kidney problems depends on knowing both the stage of the disease and the unique features of each cat. It can be fiendishly complex and no two cats are treated the same. You can read all about this at our kidney disease page but here’s a quick summary of what your vet should be thinking and doing.

Tests For Kidney Problems

  • Blood and urine testing. No animal can be diagnosed as having kidney failure without both of these. That’s because dehydration from other causes looks exactly the same until you check the urine concentration. Blood tests like these also show us related problems like low potassium or high phosphate.
  • Blood pressure measurement. Kidney cats are often hypertensive; if you don’t fix this, they can go blind from retinal detachment and kidney problems worsen quickly.
  • Sterile urine culture. Not only are kidney infections more common than realised, they are great to discover. My own cat had one and by controlling it, her kidney problem got better, not worse.
  • Urine protein: creatinine ratio. Urine protein loss is a sign of glomerular damage and can be treated just by adding another tablet.

Treatment Of Kidney Disease

It all depends on the individual. The most important therapy for the majority of cats is a change to a renal support diet. By reducing blood phosphate levels and adding extra nutrients, these diets can make a huge difference to your cat’s lifespan and quality of life.

There are also several drugs we use to treat cats with kidney problems, though most cats only need a few of these.

  • Phosphate binders are needed if the special diet doesn’t do enough on its own
  • Potassium supplements fight the increased loss of this electrolyte from the kidneys
  • Drugs like benzepril or telmisartan reduce glomerular hypertension
  • Antihypertensives like amlodipine control high blood pressure
  • Appetite stimulants help cats maintain body weight, especially in later stages

The most important thing, however, is close monitoring. There’s no such thing as ‘wait and see’ with a cat who might have kidney problems. If they get sick, the faster we get them rehydrated the better their chances are of returning to normal.

Early detection is even more important. So if you have a cat who starts drinking more, even if they haven’t yet lost weight, let us take a look! It might be nothing, or it might just be the clue that saves your cat.

Related: Why cats pee inside

Have something to add? Comments are welcome below and will appear within 24 hours of lodging.
By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. These help topics are from a series regularly posted on Facebook and Twitter. Subscribe via email here to never miss a story! The information provided here is not intended to be used as a substitute for going to the vet. If your pet is unwell, please seek veterinary attention.

Help! My Cat Is Peeing Inside

Cat urinating in house

‘At A Glance (Details Below)’ What To Do

Why Cats Urinate In The House

  1. The cause is usually anxiety, territorial stress, urinary tract disease or litter box problems
  2. It’s not bad behaviour; most cats will stop peeing inside if you treat the cause and don’t punish
  3. Clean up areas with cat urine using enzymatic cleaners to reduce odour and prevent recurrence

Now dive deeper.

If your cat has started urinating in the wrong place, please act quickly. A habit can be very hard to change if it goes on for too long. To fix the problem you need to know why it’s happening…

Why Do Cats Urinate Inside?

The most important thing to understand is that there is always something wrong. There are three broad categories of problems that cause cats to pee inside.

  • Urinary Tract Diseases
  • Behaviour & Mental Health Problems
  • Unsuitable Litter Tray Management

Let’s look deeper at each of these.

Urinary Tract Diseases

Feline Idiopathic Cystitis

Ever had cystitis? If you have you’ll remember the sudden burning need to urinate. FIC can make cats urinate outside of the litter tray and pass small amounts, often with a lot of straining. Sometimes there’s also blood.

Most cats with cystitis don’t have an infection but instead, have this poorly understood disease. If you suspect your cat has pain on urination, read our guide to managing and treating cystitis in cats.

Urinary Tract Infection

There’s no way to tell FIC from true bacterial cystitis without urine testing, which your vet will do when needed. I see infections more in elderly cats who don’t have a previous history of urinary problems.

Bladder Stones

Once common, bladder stones (called urolithiasis) are now a rare cause of urinary problems in cats. Modern cat diets have been adjusted to reduce urine pH so that stones are less likely to form.

When they do, signs look much like for FIC or infection. The exception is the male cat straining to urinate. This can be a true emergency due to bladder stones blocking the urethra.

Mobility Problems

Any disease that causes problems moving will make it hard for your cat to go to the toilet, especially if outside or in a high-sided litter box.

Read about my old cat’s arthritis here; as well as being less active, she started toileting on the floor until I recognised the problem.

Passing Too Much Urine

Cats normally produce small amounts of urine, but there are many diseases that can change that. When cats are forced to produce large amounts of dilute urine, we often see overflow incontinence.

Why Cats Pee A Lot

Common diseases causing cats to pass more urine include chronic kidney disease, diabetes and thyroid problems. Your vet can find the answer using routine blood and urine testing. Visit this page for more on the diseases causing increased drinking and urination in cats.

Anxiety & Mental Health Problems

Urine in cats is also a tool for territorial marking. Normally a cat won’t mark the core of their territory unless something is wrong. The exception is tomcats (undesexed males) who usually mark the house.

To spray urine the cat stands up, usually making a treading motion with its back feet, quivers its tail and a small amount of urine is sprayed backwards onto a vertical surface such as a wall, leaving an obvious scent mark. Common sites for spraying include doors, windows, around cat flaps, curtains, electrical equipment and shopping or rubbish bags. https://icatcare.org/advice/problem-behaviour/soiling-indoors

I won’t assume a cat is marking until I’ve also proven that the urine is normal. Here are some behavioural reasons why cats may pee in the house.

Another Cat

In my experience, it’s best to assume the cause is another cat, even if you haven’t seen the evidence. Cats are very good at hiding the signs of conflict or stress. Examples could be:

  • Acquiring a new cat
  • A stray cat (especially tomcats) hanging around outside
  • A cat entering via a cat flap to steal food
  • A kitten recently matured into an adult

Your cat’s physical and mental health often depends on keeping strange cats away. That includes not allowing cats to look in through the window.

A New Environment

I’ve seen urine marking after renovations or moving into a new house. The new place just doesn’t feel like home anymore. Here are our ideas for making the home more cat-friendly. Minimalist open plan living isn’t how most cats would choose to live!

Other Changes

Cats are very sensitive to their environment, so even changes in people or other pets could trigger urine marking. A common example is a new dog in the house.

If something causes your cat to fear going outside the problem may not be marking at all. Cats may urinate inside simply through the lack of a litter tray option.

If you suspect a behavioural cause, visit our page on treating anxiety and stress in cats.

Litter Tray Management

The fact that cats will pee & poop in a box can make us take this very convenient behaviour for granted. Don’t; it’s precious. Here’s when litter trays don’t work:

Not Enough Litter Trays

Provide at least one per cat unless you are sure your cats don’t mind sharing

Wrong Position

The tray needs to be semi-secluded but easy to access. It can’t be where a cat feels watched or under threat from children, dogs or other cats. It also shouldn’t be near food and water if possible.

If your cat is using a spot you don’t like, put a litter tray there for a few weeks until it’s used regularly. Then ’walk’ the litter tray slowly day by day to where you prefer.

Wrong Type Of Litter

The message here is to use whatever your cat likes, or beware! Dry sandy soil seems to be the innate preference but cats should adapt to artificial litters if transitioned slowly. Scented litters are best avoided.

Wrong Box

Enclosed litter boxes with lids are all about human convenience. Ammonia can build up to intolerable levels inside these small spaces without us even noticing. Generally, it’s good to use open litter boxes at least one-and-a-half times the length of your cat.

Cleaning Too Much Or Not Enough

Yes, both are a problem for some cats! The ideal tray for most cats has a slight toilet smell but no urine or faeces present. I had a cat who would never use a litter tray even twice without cleaning but most can be changed every few days without refusal.

I only scoop or knock out the old litter and replace with fresh so that the tray retains a slight odour. Using chemical cleaners is more likely to put cats off than help them.

How To Clean Up Cat Urine

If your cat keeps peeing in the wrong place, it may be because it still smells like a toilet. Cat urine is detectable by cats long after we can’t smell anything. Here’s how to reduce the odour:

  1. For fresh urine, start by blotting up as much as you can with paper towel.
  2. Press the towel onto the stain, throw away and repeat until no urine is soaked up.
  3. Then you have two options:
  4. Option 1: lightly wet the area with a dilute mixture of laundry detergent and water. Bio-Zet or other enzyme-based cleaners have always been preferred by vets. Don’t use so much that it carries the urine deeper. Then repeat the blotting until dry again.
  5. Option 2: a specialised enzymatic cat urine spray such as Urine-Off is probably better. Most of these are sprayed on and allowed to dry before removal using water. Follow the instructions on the product you choose.
  6. Rest the area by preventing access for a while. This could mean keeping the door shut, covering the ‘toilet’ with furniture, or using bubble wrap or aluminium foil as a deterrent.

Areas often get re-used despite your best efforts. Cats are creatures of habit. Even if you remove the smell, your cat may continue to use an area based on past experience.

How to conclude? By saying the obvious: cats peeing inside isn’t just a simple case of laziness or spite. It’s complicated and they need our understanding. Now spread the word!

Have something to add? Comments are welcome below and will appear within 24 hours of lodging.
By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. These help topics are from a series regularly posted on Facebook and Twitter. Subscribe via email here to never miss a story! The information provided here is not intended to be used as a substitute for going to the vet. If your pet is unwell, please seek veterinary attention.

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