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Dog peeing on a tree

Taking another potty break

The essentials

  • A number of health issues can cause increased urination — Sometimes it’s as simple as an increase in temperature or activity, but underlying medical and environmental factors can also contribute to increased urination.
  • Age plays a big part — Puppies and senior dogs generally urinate more frequently than healthy adult dogs.
  • See a vet if your dog is experiencing excessive urination —  Seek out professional care immediately if your dog’s excessive peeing is accompanied by symptoms like pain, bleeding, or an unusual odor.

Dogs tend to be creatures of habit. Changes in daily behavior are usually symptoms of underlying physical or mental health concerns. With frequent urination, drinking more water (polydipsia) is often the culprit. But there may be a number of medical, environmental, or other causes for the increased thirst. Identifying what’s causing your dog to pee so much is essential to treating and resolving the urination problem.

How often should my dog be peeing?

  • Puppies. Puppies tend to pee more than adult dogs when they’re still potty training,  and because their bodies need more water to keep them from becoming dehydrated. Take your puppy out to pee every 2 to 6 hours depending on their age. As a general rule, they should be able to hold their urine the same number of hours as their age in months.
  • Adult dogs. Healthy adult dogs can hold their urine for 6 to 8 hours. Most produce between 20 and 40 milliliters per kilogram of body weight every 24 hours.
  • Senior dogs. Older dogs may also need to urinate more frequently than healthy adult dogs due to underlying medical conditions. Some senior dogs also suffer from cognitive dysfunction, which can cause them to forget they’ve already urinated or that they should only be urinating outside.

14 causes of excessive urination in dogs

Reasons for frequent urination can be simple to pinpoint. These might include a rise in temperature or activity, leading your dog to drink more water. However, excessive urination may also be a symptom of a number of serious medical conditions. It’s important for owners to recognize when a veterinarian visit is needed.

1. Urinary tract infections

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a bacterial infection of the urinary tract. UTIs affect up to 14% of dogs throughout their lifetimes. Frequent urination, difficulty peeing, and urinary incontinence are common symptoms. UTIs can lead to infections in all parts of the urinary tract, including the bladder and kidneys. So, be sure to consult a vet if you suspect a possible UTI. Left untreated, these infections can lead to more serious problems like disease or cancer.

2. Bladder infections

Bacteria can lead to infection and inflammation of the bladder known as bacterial cystitis. Dogs with this condition may exhibit similar symptoms as with a UTI, but there may be no symptoms at all.  Canine bladder infections can also be triggered by the presence of crystals in the bladder, inflammation of the bladder, or as a side effect of some medications that affect the immune system, like steroids and chemotherapy.

3. Bladder stones

Bladder stones can cause similar symptoms as bacterial cystitis but are identified by rock-like mineral formations developing in the bladder. Excessive urination may be a sign, however bloody urine and difficulty urinating are more common due to the irritation caused by the stones.

4. Kidney infection or kidney disease

Polyuria doesn’t always indicate issues with the bladder. Sometimes, bacteria from the urinary tract migrate to the kidneys. Pyelonephritis, or kidney inflammation, is more common in puppies and senior dogs but can occur at any time, and left untreated may lead to kidney failure. Watch out for excessive thirst and urination.

5. Hormonal imbalance

Both male and female dogs may exhibit excessive urination due to an imbalance of hormones. In spayed females, especially older dogs, “spay incontinence” can be caused by a decrease in estrogen production. Cushing’s disease is another common but serious condition, marked by an increase in cortisol production from the adrenal glands.

6. Diabetes

Diabetes is among the more serious conditions with frequent urination as a symptom. As in humans, low levels of insulin or insulin resistance lead to excess blood glucose, which may cause diabetes in dogs. Diabetes will require insulin injections and dietary changes, so a visit to the vet is imperative if you suspect your dog may be afflicted.

7. Anxiety

Separation anxiety in dogs can manifest in many ways, including excessive peeing or pooping. Anxious dogs will often get so overworked that they may poop in the house, even if they’ve been successfully potty trained. This can be super frustrating for pet parents!

👉 For an anxious pup, ask your vet if your doggie could benefit from a calming supplement to ease their nerves.

8. Marking

Marking is a natural instinct in many dogs, especially among unneutered males. Dogs may mark territory to attract mates, and also communicate dog-to-dog using pheromones. A change in environment or stimulation levels can also lead to increased urination via marking.

9. Age

In general, puppies tend to urinate more than adult dogs due to their smaller bladders. House training is a useful way to help put your puppy on a somewhat reliable relief schedule. While common, puppy peeing should be monitored to ensure frequency doesn’t reach excessive levels.

On the other end of the age spectrum, senior dogs also tend to pee more often for a variety of reasons. Certain medications can affect dogs’ urinary systems, leading to more frequent eliminations. Incontinence is also a symptom common to some infections and illnesses seen in senior dogs.

10. Too much water

Dehydration in dogs is a serious issue, so a steady supply of clean drinking water is essential. In general, dogs require around 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight, but this may vary. If you notice your dog drinking more than usual, there may be a variety of culprits. It may be as simple as a rise in temperature or excessive thirst following strenuous activity. If you can rule these out, however, a vet visit may be your best bet to get to the root cause of the increased water drinking. No matter what, never ever deprive your dog of water, even if they’re drinking excessively.

⚠️ Insufficient water can exacerbate existing conditions like diabetes and lead to harmful neurological issues.

11. Improper potty training

Learning the “acceptable” places to pee isn’t a natural instinct for dogs. When we welcome pets into our home, especially puppies, we attempt to teach them the rules, often through crate training. While housetraining, puppies are expected to pee often, especially due to smaller bladders. However, there’s a difference between normal potty training mishaps and excessive urination due to underlying issues. If you suspect the latter, consult a veterinarian to properly diagnose the problem.

12. Pyometra

Pyometra is an infection of the uterus that occurs as a result of hormonal changes in the reproductive tract. If an unspayed female dog is left unbred, the lining of their uterus thickens over time due to an increase of the hormone progesterone. This eventually causes cysts to form in the uterine lining, leading to fluid secretions and pockets that make an ideal breeding ground for bacteria.

Pyometra commonly affects older dogs within a month or two after the end of a heat cycle, but it can also happen in young dogs. Symptoms include increased drinking and urination, as well as blood-stained vaginal discharge on the skin or hair under the tail.

13. Bladder cancer

Canine bladder cancer is caused by the presence of a transitional cell carcinoma (TCC) or urothelial carcinoma (UC) in a dog’s urinary tract. It’s a relatively rare condition, but it’s more common in breeds like beagles; Scottish, West Highland White, and wire fox terriers; Shetland sheep dogs; and American Eskimo dogs. Symptoms include frequent urinating in small amounts, difficulty urinating, and bloody or discolored urine.

14. Urinary pH imbalance

A dog’s urinary pH measures the level of acid present in their urine. That number ideally ranges from 7.0 to 7.5, though unbalanced diets and urinary tract infections (UTIs) can lead to an abnormal pH that allows bacteria to thrive and crystals or stones to form in the urinary tract. This triggers symptoms including increased thirst, frequent, sometimes bloody urination, and an increased urgency to urinate.

When to see the vet

Frequent urination can often signal serious medical issues such as kidney disease, a urinary tract infection, diabetes, or bladder cancer. It’s imperative to know when a veterinarian visit is urgently needed. If your dog’s excessive peeing is accompanied by any of the symptoms below, seek professional veterinary care as soon as possible.

  • Blood in the urine. The most obvious and alarming sign for many owners is blood in dogs’ urine (hematuria). This may signify bladder or kidney infections, diabetes, and more serious internal ailments. Bloody urine is one especially concerning red flag that should always warrant an immediate vet visit.
  • Unusual odor. Most owners can recognize the normal, common smell of dog urine. If, however, there’s a noticeable change in the odor of your dog’s urine, it may signify an infection or other serious issues.
  • Excessive drinking. Dogs may drink more water from time to time on hot days or after strenuous activity. If the excessive drinking becomes regular and sustained, though, there’s likely an underlying medical or behavioral cause that can best be identified and treated by a vet.
  • Straining to pee. Difficulty urinating or pain while peeing is a sure sign of trouble. Straining to pee is often a symptom of an underlying condition like a UTI or bladder stones.

Dogs with frequent urination should see their vets within 24 to 48 hours. The vet may recommend urine testing to look for an infection, crystals, excess protein, etc., and in some cases, they may also recommend blood work and x-rays to rule out many of the causes on this list.

Erica Irish

🚨 If your dog is unable to pee entirely, this is an emergency that needs immediate veterinary attention.

Diagnosing excessive urination

In the case of frequent or excessive urination, there are a number of medical or behavioral causes that are simply impossible to diagnose with the naked eye. That’s why it’s a good idea to take your dog to the vet any time you feel frequent urination may be a sign of an underlying issue. Not only will they be able to give your dog a thorough physical examination, but they can also order a comprehensive urinalysis to determine the levels of protein, blood, crystals, white blood cells, and bacteria in your dog’s urine.

Other common tests used to diagnose problems associated with frequent urination in dogs include urine culture tests, which check for bacterial growth in the urine; abdominal x-rays to to look for any stones or tumors in the urethra or bladder; and abdominal ultrasounds to examine the rest of the urinary tract, including the kidneys, bladder, ureters, liver, prostate (in male dogs), uterus (in unspayed female dogs), and adrenal glands.

Treating excessive urination

Treatment for frequent urination will differ depending on the diagnosis. In the case of a bladder or kidney infection, a vet may prescribe antibiotics, fluid therapy, and sometimes hospitalization. Dietary changes and regular injections of insulin may be required for more serious conditions like diabetes, while cancer is commonly treated using a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.

The cost of veterinary care can be expensive. However, most pet parents would agree that cost is secondary to their furry friends’ quality of life. Help your dog avoid potentially life-threatening issues by trusting your vet throughout the process. Simple as it may seem, frequent urination may sometimes require complex diagnosis and treatment.

Tips to keep your dog’s urinary tract healthy

Bacteria is the most common culprit in UTIs and other urinary system infections that lead to excess urination. Here are a few preventative measures you can take to minimize your dog’s risk:

Provide fresh, clean water — Dog mouths are hot spots for bacteria that can accumulate in their food and water bowls. Always replace old water with fresh, clean water daily and wash your dogs’ bowls regularly. Make sure you don’t provide too much water though, especially if your dog is drinking all the time.

Feed your dog a healthy, well-balanced diet — Nutrition is a key component to overall health in dogs. Well-balanced diets should include proteins, vegetables, grains, fats, and other nutrients. Too many table scraps or human food can ultimately throw your dog’s digestive system off.

👉 Check out the best vet-recommended healthy dog treats

Probiotic supplements help healthy bacteria grow — Probiotics are increasingly being recognized by veterinarians for their positive impact on gut health. Adding a probiotic supplement to your dog’s food can introduce helpful bacteria to help combat digestive and immune issues. Some of our favorites for doggies include Native Pet’s All Natural Probiotic and Premium Care’s Probiotic Chews for Dogs.

Make sure your dog gets enough pee breaks outside — Dogs need regular bathroom breaks, just like us. Holding it in too long can lead to urinary system problems. Always take your dog on several daily walks, or let them out in the backyard a few times each day. This gives them the opportunity to eliminate on a regular schedule and avoid holding in urine.

Frequently asked questions

Do older dogs pee more often?

Generally, yes. Incontinence is a symptom of several senior dog ailments. Some medications can also interfere with normal urinary function.

How often is too often for a dog to pee?

Broadly, dogs should urinate once every 4 to 8 hours. If they’re peeing every hour, they’re likely drinking too much water, and it may signal an underlying issue.

How to tell if your dog has a UTI?

Common UTI symptoms in dogs include frequent urination, difficulty urinating, blood in urine, and excessive licking of the groin area.

What to do if your dog keeps peeing uncontrollably?

If you’re unsure why your dog is peeing all the time, a vet visit is your best bet. In the meantime, there are methods to cut down on accidents in your home. These include lengthening puppy potty breaks, or the use of a belly band or diaper if need be. Make sure to eliminate past urine odors in your home, as dogs tend to mark by scent. To help prevent this, you can try a dog belly band from Pet Parents. These are incredibly comfortable for dogs and prevent damage to rugs, carpets, and upholstery.