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Brown puppy lying on a bed

The essentials

  • Dogs pee for all kinds of reasons — Urination is a major part of how dogs communicate, but peeing in bed is not usually a normal behavior.
  • Medical or emotional problems may be to blame — UTIs, stress, or even fear may be the cause of bedtime accidents.
  • There are plenty of solutions to consider — With some training, changes to the home, and maybe a visit to the vet, you should be able to stop the bedwetting without too much trouble.

Either in the early stages of house-training or during a sudden change in elimination behavior, your dog peeing in your bed is, at best, an unpleasant inconvenience, or, at worst, a sign of potential medical concerns for your furry bed-wetter.

Understanding canine behavior and communication

To get to the bottom of your dog’s unfortunate bathroom troubles, you need to understand the surprisingly intricate and multi-faceted world of dog urination. It sounds gross, sure, but peeing is a key way your dog communicates with both you and other dogs.

Small white dog peeing

Social bonding and claiming territory

First of all, dogs often use urine to mark territory. A dog’s nose is a powerful thing, and urine contains all sorts of chemicals and pheromones that make each pup’s pee unique. By peeing on trees, fire hydrants, or unsuspecting legs, dogs signal to other dogs that this here is their property and you should move right along.

This behavior is completely normal, and while it is most common in non-neutered males, neutered males and females alike will also mark their territory. When dogs mark, they use just a little bit of urine, far less than when they are relieving themselves out in the yard. And while your dog may consider your bed part of its domain, if you are discovering large patches of pee in the sheets, urine marking is unlikely to be the culprit.

Submissive or excitement urination

In addition to using a little urine to mark the limits of their turf, dogs can also use urine to demonstrate submission and weakness. When startled or scared, some dogs will wet themselves as a sign of acknowledged weakness and perceived inferiority. For instance, when staring down a much larger canine, a small pup may whimper and whine while peeing to make clear that they do not want a fight since they know quite well they would not win.

Dogs can also pee out of excitement. When highly agitated or engaged, dogs can get a little carried away and suffer from a bout of urinary incontinence. A house party with a bunch of unfamiliar guests may over-stimulate your dog, and in the midst of it running around and greeting each new face and scent, a little wet accident can easily occur.

However, your dog is unlikely to feel afraid or submissive while cuddling up in the covers, and unless you have a ton of stimuli bouncing around in your bedroom, your dog is probably not peeing for that reason, either.

Separation anxiety

If your dog has wet the bed while you have been away at work or visiting some friends, you may soon realize that your furry friend struggles with separation anxiety. Many breeds are susceptible to such stress, and urination is a common expression of these feelings. If you notice that your dog exhibits other symptoms of separation anxiety like howling and chewing, the urination may be caused by this anxiety.

Pug wrapped in a blanket

Medical reasons behind inappropriate urination

Peeing is a very natural part of your dog’s life, but if the behavioral reasons above don’t seem to be the cause of your dog’s bed-wetting, some medical issues like kidney disease may be to blame. These concerns should be taken seriously, and you should consult your veterinarian if you think medical reasons might be behind this problem.

Urinary tract infections and bladder stones

Accidents around the house (including in bed), particularly foul-smelling urine, and your dog struggling to urinate when given the opportunity can all be signs of a urinary tract infection . These infections are common in dogs, especially with females, and can be caused by all manner of reasons. In short, though, a UTI is simply a bacterial infection of the urinary system and can be treated by a course of antibiotics.

Bladder stones, too, can cause urine troubles. These masses of minerals build up in your pup’s urinary tract and can cause all sorts of problems as they try to work their way out. If you notice blood in your dog’s urine, urination problems, and signs of obvious pain or discomfort, you should consult with your vet about the best way to handle bladder and kidney stones.

Hormonal imbalances and incontinence

Just like with humans and other animals, hormones dictate nearly everything about how a dog behaves and feels. Imbalances in hormones caused by aging, disease, environmental changes, and so on can also cause problems with urination. These sorts of imbalances are a little harder to detect compared to other potential causes of pee problems.

However, if you notice changes in your dog’s fur luster or skin health, hormonal issues might be to blame. Of course, you should refer to your vet for proper testing and diagnosis of the root cause of the hormonal changes.

Age-related issues in senior dogs

If your furry friend is starting to get up there in age, incontinence is all too common. Like with many other animals, humans included, dogs have a harder time going to the bathroom properly as they age. Either they struggle to go when prompted,  or they lose the ability to “hold it” when potty time is less than appropriate. If your dog has slept in your bed its whole life and has just now started soaking the sheets, they might just be getting old.

Small dog sat on a vet‘s table

Preventing and addressing inappropriate elimination

With so many possible causes of these unfortunate accidents, you may be worried that there is little you can do to prevent this problem. Fortunately, while you can’t control everything, there are steps you can take to make the chances of bed wetting as slim as possible. Note that some urinary incontinence problems have nothing to do with behavior or training and might simply be the result of age or hormonal imbalances.

Establish a consistent bathroom schedule

Especially with new dogs, whether they be puppies or old-timers, getting on a consistent bathroom schedule is a must. You need to provide your dog with several opportunities a day to relieve itself, and you need to space these chances out, too. Housetraining a dog can be a long and arduous process, but if you stick to a strict routine, your dog will have less fuel in the tank for any bedroom accidents.

Train your dog to signal their need to go out

As part of your potty-training process, make sure to encourage effective communication between you and your dog. Use a simple phrase every time you go out to let your dog relieve itself. Something as simple as  “potty” can create an association with that word and eliminating. You can get to the point where if your dog is acting a little anxious or uncomfortable, a simple call of “potty” will get them to head right to the door to be let out.

You should also work in rewards for your dog effectively communicating with you. If your dog goes and stands by the door when it needs to take a potty break, reward that signaling with a treat.

Limit access to the bedroom and your bed

If bedroom accidents are a major concern for you, you can also simply limit or remove access to the bedroom. If your dog has gotten used to sleeping on the bed, breaking that habit might be a bit of a challenge. Provide a dog-sized alternative and reward your pup for using their new bed and listening to you when you say no to  hopping up on the bed.

When you are away from home, close the bedroom door to prevent your dog from getting into any unsupervised trouble.

Brown dog lying on a dog bed

Cleaning up after your dog's accidents

Living with an animal is going to lead to some inevitable messes, no matter how many preventative measures you take. Fortunately, with some preparation and a little know-how, most messes can be handled with relative ease.

Cleaning your mattress and bedding

Timing matters a great deal with pet urine, so make sure to act as quickly as you can to prevent stains and lasting odors from setting in.

For soiled sheets and blankets, running them through a rinse cycle in your washer is a good start followed up by a heavy-duty washing with detergent. If you don’t want to drop pee-stained linen into your washer, you can soak dirty bedding in a bathtub or large basin with some laundry detergent. Pop on some gloves and agitate the mix to help the soap seep into the fabric. After the washer or the soaking, either air dry or use a dryer. It might take more than one cycle to dry things out completely.

The mattress itself is a little tricker. If still wet, try to blot as much of the urine out with paper towels as you can. Try not to press too hard into the mattress as that might push the unwanted liquid in even deeper.

For stains and persistent smells, a mixture of 8 ounces of hydrogen peroxide, 3 tablespoons of baking soda, and a few drops of laundry detergent mixed into a spray bottle will help you break down the urine. Spray the affected area generously, let it soak in, and wait for the solution to dry. You’ll see a fine layer of baking soda appear on the surface of the mattress. You can just vacuum this residue up, and then, voila, you should be stain and odor free.

Using odor-neutralizing products

For particularly stubborn smells, you may need to turn to specialized products like these.

Strengthening the bond with your pet through effective communication and training

Your dog peeing in your bed is undeniably gross and unpleasant for everyone involved, but it can be a chance to deepen your connection with your pet through tackling the problem together. Work on understanding your dog’s needs, adapting the home to better suit those needs, and learning the best way to communicate with your dog.

Frequently asked questions

Why has my dog suddenly peed on my bed?

Aside from possible medical issues, your dog may feel stressed, anxious, or afraid. Consider if any new stimuli or changes to the home might have caused these feelings.

How do I know if my dog has a UTI?

Too frequent or trouble urinating may be signs of a UTI. Whimpering or whining while eliminating might indicate pain associated with a UTI, and traces of blood in the urine are also a likely sign.

Is my dog peeing in the house for attention?

Probably not. If your dog is peeing while you are away, it may be suffering from separation anxiety, and the urination is just a stress response.

What scents deter dogs from peeing?

Chilis, citrus, coffee grounds, and vinegar are all smells that dogs tend to dislike, and applying them to an area you want your dog to avoid might be a way to prevent them from peeing there. Many commercial product use these ingredients as part of their odor eliminators.

Do female dogs mark their territory with pee?

Many people think that male dogs are the only ones who engage in scent-marking, but females do it, too, albeit least often.