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Why is my dog peeing so much

The essentials

  • Many 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.
  • Age plays a big part — Puppies and senior dogs generally urinate more frequently than healthy adult dogs.
  • See a vet if your dog has these symptoms —  If your dog’s excessive peeing is accompanied by symptoms like pain, bleeding, or an unusual odor, seek out professional care immediately.

If your dog is peeing a lot more than usual, it’s easy for pet owners to get concerned. Frequent urination can be caused by various things, ranging from benign issues like changes in diet or environment to more serious health issues. 

Understanding the root cause of excessive urination and knowing when to see the vet can help prevent conditions from worsening and determine the appropriate treatment for their circumstance. Here’s what pet owners need to know about treating excessive urination in dogs.

When to see the vet

Frequent urination can often signal serious medical issues such as kidney disease, a urinary tract infection (UTI), hormonal imbalances, bladder cancer, endocrine disorders (like Cushing’s or diabetes), or liver disease. 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 their dog’s urine (hematuria). This may signify bladder or kidney infections, diabetes, and more serious internal ailments. Bloody urine is an 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, there’s likely an underlying medical or behavioral cause. Monitor their water intake to determine what’s normal and what isn’t. 
  • 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, bladder stones, urethral obstruction, or a partial obstruction from a mass or clot.

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.

Dr. Erica Irish

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

Polyuria vs pollakiuria

Polyuria and pollakiuria are two different conditions that can cause your dog to pee a lot. However, they present in different ways and indicate an underlying health issue that requires veterinary attention.

Polyuria . This condition involves frequent urination and in large amounts. Kidney infection or failure, diabetes, Cushing’s , hyperthyroidism, pyometra, hypercalcemia, cancer, and liver infection, among other conditions, can lead to polyuria. These conditions can cause increased thirst and water consumption, resulting in more frequent urination.

Pollakiuria . Unlike polyuria, pollakiuria is noted by small amounts of frequent urination, sometimes accompanied by straining, due to conditions in the lower urinary tract. This condition can also result in blood in the urine due to bladder infections, stones, crystals, bladder cancer, or prostate issues. These can irritate or obstruct the urinary tract, leading to painful, frequent, and urgent urination.

It’s difficult for clients to get in to see their veterinarians within 1-2 days of a call anymore, so I would suggest at least getting a fresh urine for testing if an immediate appointment cannot be made and if their veterinary clinic staff agrees or the technique they want for collection.

Dr. Bruce Armstrong

17 causes of excessive urination in dogs

Sometimes, the reason your dog is peeing a lot 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 several serious medical conditions.

1. Urinary tract infections

A urinary tract infection 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. 

Consult a vet if you suspect a possible UTI. If 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 symptoms similar to a UTI, but there may be no symptoms at all.  

Canine bladder infections can also be triggered by the presence of crystals, bladder inflammation, 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 to a bladder infection. Stones can be 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 can migrate to the kidneys. Pyelonephritis , or kidney infection, is more common in middle-aged and senior dogs but can occur at any time and, if 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 a hormonal disorder or imbalance. In spayed females, especially older dogs, “spay incontinence” can be caused by a decrease in estrogen production or loss of muscular tone.

6. Diabetes

Diabetes is among the more serious conditions, with frequent urination as a symptom. Low insulin levels 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. Cushing’s disease

Cushing’s disease occurs when the adrenal glands produce excessive amounts of the stress hormone cortisol. This hormonal imbalance causes dogs to drink more and, thus, pee a lot. Other symptoms include a potbelly, excessive panting, and hair loss. Despite excessive drinking, never deprive your dog of water.

8. 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, check out our list of calming supplements to ease their nerves.

9. Marking

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

10. Age

In general, puppies tend to pee more than adult dogs due to their smaller bladders. House training is a useful way to help put your puppy on a somewhat reliable schedule. While common, puppy peeing should be monitored to make sure that your puppy isn’t urinating too much and that their urine is normal.

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.

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. But, crate training is a process, and accidents should be expected until puppies (or grown dogs) are fully trained.

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 in 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. Pet owners can have their dog’s progesterone levels tested to evaluate health or breeding purposes.

13. Bladder cancer

Canine bladder cancer is caused by the presence of transitional cell carcinoma (TCC) or urothelial carcinoma (UC) in a dog’s urinary tract. Symptoms include frequent urinating in small amounts, difficulty urinating, and bloody or discolored urine. 

While it’s a relatively rare condition (about 2% of all canine cancers), certain breeds are more likely to develop bladder cancer. Breeds like:

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 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.

15. Hypercalcemia

Calcium levels are regulated by the parathyroid glands in the throat. If the levels drop too low, these glands produce the parathyroid hormone (PTH) to bring the calcium levels back to normal. When calcium levels are too high and the body cannot regulate it, it can cause symptoms like reduced appetite, vomiting, constipation, increased drinking, and polyuria.

16. Electrolyte imbalances

Imbalances in electrolytes , like sodium, can cause dogs to drink more water and pee more often. When there’s too much sodium or an imbalance between electrolytes, the kidneys struggle to retain water. 

As a result, the body tries to expel excess sodium, leading to increased urination. Factors like dehydration, foods high in sodium, medical conditions, and toxins can contribute to imbalances in electrolytes.

17. Side effects of medication

Diuretic medications, seizure drugs, and corticosteroids can cause side effects like increased thirst and frequent urination. These drugs influence the fluid and balance of electrolytes within the body.

Non-medical causes of frequent urination

Frequent urination isn’t always due to a medical condition. Many times, non-medical factors like age, level of physical activity, environment, hydration, or diet can impact urination habits.

  • Age. Age plays a role in how much and how often your dog urinates. Puppies and senior dogs often urinate more frequently due to various age-related behaviors or conditions.
  • Heat. Naturally, in warmer weather, dogs drink more water to stay hydrated and cool. This can lead to more frequent urination as a result of drinking more. As temperatures increase outside, always make sure your pet has access to clean, fresh water at all times to avoid heat stroke and exhaustion.
  • Activity level. Physical activity can cause a dog to feel thirsty and drink more fluids since they are naturally losing water through panting and sweating through their paw pads. An increase in water intake will usually cause them to urinate more. 
  • Diet. Certain diets that have low amounts of protein or high levels of salt can cause increased urination in dogs. Both of these diet types affect the kidneys, causing dogs to drink more water.
  • Dehydration. As dogs lose fluid, they may drink more to compensate. Dehydration occurs when your dog doesn’t drink enough water, which can be due to not wanting to drink or not having access to adequate water resources.

How often should my dog be peeing?

What’s normal for your dog will depend on their hydration levels, medical conditions, and age. Typically, healthy adult dogs can hold their pee for 6-8 hours, but this can vary significantly with age and individual dogs. 

Puppies — Puppies tend to pee more than adult dogs when they’re still potty training 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. Generally, they should be able to hold their urine for 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 0.31 to 0.61 ounces of urine per pound 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.

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. These tests are used to check for bacterial growth in the urine. 
  • Abdominal X-rays. Veterinarians use radiographs to look for any stones or tumors in the urethra or bladder. 
  • Abdominal ultrasounds. Ultrasounds allow vets 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 insulin injections 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.

Excessive urination can be a sign of an underlying health problem. If you notice your dog urinating frequently, watch for other symptoms and consider changes in their diet, activity, environment, or stress levels. If urination changes persist, speak with your veterinarian. They can help rule out any serious issues or prevent any conditions from worsening.

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, urine with a pungent smell, and excessive licking of the groin area.

What to do if your dog keeps peeing uncontrollably?

If you’re unsure why your dog is always peeing, 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 using a belly band or diaper if needed. Make sure to eliminate past urine odors in your home, as dogs tend to mark by scent.