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What is Urinating Uncontrollably?

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Why Urinating Uncontrollably Occurs in Dogs

There are several causes of uncontrollable urination, depending on the severity of the symptoms.  These causes can be benign or a serious health threat.

Age-Related Incontinence

As your dog ages, the muscles controlling the urethra lose their strength and your dog may experience leakage while sleeping or relaxing. Additionally, many dogs may become senile in their old age and not realize they are urinating.  However, there are also many diseases that affect older dogs and may cause an abnormal amount of urine created in the bladder.  The higher volumes of urine build pressure, which may lead to uncontrollable urination due to weakened muscles.

Submissive Urination

Submissive urination occurs more frequently in younger dogs who come into contact with people or other dogs.  Usually, your dog will urinate while sitting or even roll onto its back when in the presence of a dog or person to whom feel submissive.  Submissive urination is not a medical condition but a behavioral issue and can be corrected with proper socialization and a healthy, abuse-free environment.  

Hormone-responsive Incontinence

Hormone-responsive incontinence can occur in both male and female dogs but most often affects spayed females of larger breeds and is observed more frequently in Boxers, Doberman Pinschers, English Springer Spaniels, German Shepherds, Giant Schnauzers, Irish Setters, Old English Sheepdogs, Rottweilers, and Weimaraners. 

Urinary Tract Infections

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is the result of a bacterial infection and may cause uncontrollable urination as well as other recognizable symptoms such as pain while urinating, excessive licking of the urinary opening, possible blood in the urine, and difficulty urinating.  Older dogs whose immune systems may not be able to defend against infectious agents or dogs that don’t have the opportunity to eliminate their urine are more susceptible to urinary tract infections.  

Ectopic Ureters

A far more serious condition, ectopic ureter is a physical defect in one or both of the ureters.  The ureters are small tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder.  However, when ectopic ureters fail to connect the kidneys to the bladder, urine is leaked out to where the defective ureters lead, such as the uterus or vagina.  The bladder is the only organ capable of properly storing urine and any leakage outside of the bladder can cause infection and irritation.

What to do if your Dog is Urinating Uncontrollably

Though more frequently benign in older dogs, you want to watch for any changes in your dog’s urination habits, regardless of age, and seek medical attention if you notice more frequent episodes or observe any pain or unusual behavior in your dog.  Be sure to note the frequency, when the incontinence first appeared, and any additional symptoms or behaviors you’ve seen because your veterinarian will ask you several questions to try and determine the cause of your dog’s uncontrollable urination.  

Depending on the answers you provide during the physical exam, your veterinarian may order urine cultures to determine a UTI, blood tests to determine organ damage as a result of infection, and X-rays or ultrasounds to look for bladder blockage or defects in the ureters.  If your veterinarian diagnoses your dog with hormone-responsive incontinence, your dog may be prescribed hormone replacement medication or drugs to help tone the muscles controlling the bladder.  In the more severe case of ectopic ureters, your dog will have to undergo surgery to correct the defect.

Prevention of Urinating Uncontrollably

Age-related incontinence may not be entirely preventable, but some medications may help your older dog; however, it is important to safeguard your dog against possible diseases that affect bladder control in older dogs.  Making sure your dog has access to clean water and is taken outside often can prevent infections as your dog can eliminate urine as needed rather than storing it in the bladder.  Your dog should always have a clean, dry area to sleep in to help prevent another health-related issue from occurring as well.     

You should never scold or otherwise, threaten your dog or allows others to do so under any circumstance, including urinating in an unusual place.  Your dog needs a safe, comfortable environment to grow and live.  Though not a medical condition, submissive urination may result from abusive behavior or vocalization towards your dog.  If your dog urinates in your presence or in the presence of other dogs you can correct this behavior through proper socialization and training.  

Regardless of age, recognizing the signs of symptoms of incontinence is important as some medical conditions cannot be prevented and must be addressed with your veterinarian.

Cost of Urinating Uncontrollably

Treatment costs will vary depending on the underlying cause of your dog’s uncontrollable urination.  For example, a urinary tract infection may cost around $350 whereas if your dog has ectopic ureters, the cost may be around $5,000.  However, the average cost of treating incontinence issues is around $1,100, depending on your cost of living.

Urinating Uncontrollably Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Border Collie
11 Months
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Urinating In House

My dog just started peeing whenever I come into the house, take her out of her crate, or scold her (unrelated to the urination) a couple of months ago. I tried to train it out of her thinking it was submissive or excited urination but nothing has changed.

Michele King
Dr. Michele King, DVM
314 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. Submissive urination isn't something that you can train a dog out of - to resolve that behavior, Freya needs to have her confidence built up, as it happens in more timid dogs. Things like puppy classes and agility training tend to help quite a bit, especially with Border Collies, as they are such smart dogs. It would be a good idea to have her checked out by your veterinarian just to make sure that she doesn't have a urinary tract problem, and they can refer you to good classes or agility groups in your area. I hope that things go well for her.

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7 Months
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

What causes a 7 month old puppy to go outside and potty and then 20-30 minutes later pee in the house? If you take her out 6 times in a 2hr span and 20 minutes later she pees in the house , put in her crate and within 1 hr pee 2 times. She has only had about 1/2 cup of water in the 3 hr time

Callum Turner
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1832 Recommendations
There are a few causes for this level of urination which may include infections, urinary stones, hormonal conditions (Cushing’s among others), poisoning, congenital defects (ectopic ureters - more common in other breeds), behaviour among other conditions; this would be something to see your Veterinarian about as there is no one single answer and needs to be diagnosed. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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5 Months
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Ive got a pup who started having a UTI in September just before getting spayed and she was treated for it. Up until then, she was doing great with potty training. 200 dollars later and she has no UTI but she was still uncontrollably urinating everywhere constantly so we blow another 300 bucks on a culture test and find out she can't digest protein, calcium, or magnesium. We're feeding her the vet prescribed urinary care food and giving a chewable twice a day and she is still peeing everywhere uncontrollably. After hundreds of dollars spent at the vet and several different antibiotics, there's been absolutely no change in symptoms and this has been going on for two months now. What do I do?

Callum Turner
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1832 Recommendations
There are various causes for urinary incontinence in dogs which may be attributable to infections, spinal issues, hormonal conditions but I would be tempted to think it may be an ectopic ureter if Luna is a Boxer crossed with a Labrador as this is more common in Labrador females (eight times more likely in females than males) which are three to six months of age. An intravenous pyelogram (x-ray with some contrast media) or ultrasound would be the diagnostic method of choice, check the link below. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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