Having Accidents in the House in Dogs

Why is my dog having accidents in the house?

What is Having Accidents in the House?

When your pet is a puppy it is totally normal for a few bathroom accidents to occur in the house. Your young dog is still learning to control its bladder and understand that going to the door means he will be let outside. Once your dog learns how to control his bladder, however, accidents should no longer occur; old age is an exception to this rule as the dog’s bladder is no longer as strong as in its prime years. If you notice that your mature dog is having accidents in the house, it may be time for a trip to the vet in order to discover what the cause may be. 

  • Hormone incontinence 
  • Side effects of medications
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Change in environment 
  • Feeling anxious, stressed, or over excited 

Accidents in the house are not life threatening situations, but for the sake of your home and the overall health of your dog, it is best to visit the vet as soon as possible in order to treat the underlying issue.

Why Having Accidents in the House Occurs in Dogs

More often than not, accidents are going to happen because of the dog’s age. When a dog is a puppy, it can only hold the contents of its bladder for a certain amount of time. The general rule is a puppy can control its bladder for one hour to every month of age. So if you have a 3-month old puppy, theoretically, he should be able to hold his pee for about 3 hours. After that, he will need to be taken out or an accident will happen. The same thing goes for dogs of an older age; accidents will occur if they don’t get frequent bathroom breaks. 

Besides age, there are a few common reasons why accidents may occur such as, hormone incontinence, side effects from a medication, urinary tract infections, changes in the dog’s environment, and feelings of stress or excitement. While none of these issues are necessarily life threatening, it is important to understand these problems and speak with your vet or a behavioral specialist on how to correct the problem. 

Hormone Incontinence 

Put simply, this issue comes about after a dog is spayed or neutered and is caused by a weakening of the sphincter muscles. This is most common in female dogs as it comes about from a lack of estrogen, but it can occur in male dogs as well. Hormone incontinence can be helped through regular walks and speaking with your vet about any potential medications. 

Side Effects from Medications

If your dog has been placed on any recent medications, sometimes accidents can be triggered by those medications. It is important to communicate with your vet in order to find the right medication for your dog that won’t cause him to have accidents in the house. 

Urinary Tract Infections 

This is a common cause of house accidents for all ages of dogs. If your pet is having frequent accidents in the house, get him a checkup in order to rule out any UTI’s. If your dog is diagnosed with a UTI your vet will be able to help you determine the right medication for your pet in order to fix the issue. 

Change in Environment 

Pets can be extremely sensitive to any new changes that take place within their life. Perhaps you have moved, gotten a new pet, or renovated the house. If that is the case, your dog may be having accidents simply because he is stressed from the new changes. If that is the case, speaking with a behavioral specialist and giving your dog lots of love will most likely help curb that behavior. It is important to remember that your dog is not doing this on purpose and punishing him for it will only make matters worse. Love and careful retraining may be the best solution to this situation. 

Feelings of Stress, Anxiety, or Excitement 

Some dogs, when extremely excited or intimidated, may have a little trickle of urine that leaks out. This is due to lack of control over the bladder muscles when extremely excited. In this situation it would be best to speak with a behavioral specialist on how to help your dog overcome that habit.

What to do if your Dog is Having Accidents in the House

If your dog no longer is a puppy and begins to have accidents in the house, it would be best to get him to a vet for a checkup. Your vet will run a few tests (such as a urinalysis or blood work) to diagnose what the underlying issue of the accidents may be and proceed from there. Medication can treat an infection of the urinary tract and the adjustment to environmental changes may resolve the issue with time. If the accidents are caused by a behavior issue, such as anxiety, as opposed to something medical, you may want to ask the professional opinion of a behavioral specialist for advice and help with retraining your dog.

Prevention of Having Accidents in the House

The best way to prevent accidents within the home is to house train your dog young. It may come as a surprise by how many people overlook this important step in training. By teaching your young dog about where is appropriate to use the bathroom, you may not run into as many behavioral issues down the road. 

If your dog is having accidents due to a medical issue, the best thing to do is have regular veterinary check-ups in order to ensure that your dog’s health is being monitored correctly. In that way, you can catch any pesky problems before they intensify.

Cost of Having Accidents in the House

Treatment cost will vary depending on the cause of your dog’s accidents. For instance, if your dog is diagnosed with a urinary tract infection, the cost of treatment can range from $300 to $1000. If your dog is diagnosed with hormone incontinence, treatment will vary depending on the severity, while an environmental stress may be relieved with time and patience.

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Having Accidents in the House Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals


American Staffordshire Terrier




5 Years


1 found this helpful


1 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
Peeing In The House
Took my 5 yr old dog to the vet for his annual check-up at the beginning of this month and all was well with the exception of diagnosing a skin allergy. The vet recommended giving him fish oil and Zyrtec, which I did for 12 days. This month alone, he has had an peeing accident in the house at least 3 times -- just a drizzle, but this is highly unusual for him. Pls advise.

April 29, 2018

Answered by Dr. Michele K. DVM

1 Recommendations

Increased urination would not be a side effect of either the fish oil or the Zyrtec, that I am aware. If Kofi did not have any lab work done at his exam, it may be a good idea to have that done, to make sure that he doesn't have a bladder infection or a systemic cause for this problem. I hope that all goes well for him!

April 29, 2018

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