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While you probably have a lot of choice names your dog’s sudden potty accidents in the house, when you ask your vet “Why is my dog peeing in the hosue?” he’ll likely just call it “inappropriate urination.”
This is when a house-trained dog suddenly decides to start peeing inside the house. And let’s admit it, there are few things more frustrating.
There are a variety of reasons why a dog might suddenly exhibit this change in behavior, and solving the problem generally starts with identifying the cause.
Read on as we go through the main reasons why your pup might start peeing inside and what you can do to help get them back on a happy bathroom schedule and your home free of that constant pet pee smell, which can also be hazardous to your health.
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Peeing In The House: Causes
The reasons why your dog might suddenly start peeing in the house extend from the mundane, such as having had a bit too much (water) to drink, to the serious, such as diabetes. Identifying which cause is at play in your home will require looking at what else is happening with your pup.
Below are the main causes and the other telltale signs to look out for to identify if this might be why your dog has suddenly decided to start peeing inside.
If your dog isn’t properly house-trained, they could get confused and pee inside. This often happens when they are occasionally allowed to pee inside, such as on a puppy pee-pad. This can leave them confused about the idea that they can “only” outside.
This is more likely to be an ongoing problem than a sudden onset of inside peeing. But if they do suddenly start to pee inside, they may choose to pee in that place where the pee-pad used to be.
While we generally worry about dehydration, it is possible for your dog to over-hydrate. But rather than causing serious health concerns, this generally means they need to pee a lot, and they might not be able to hold it until their next trip outside.
Signs that this is the problem can be that they are drinking more than usual, though of course, if they are drinking from an unknown water source, you may not notice. The other is that they might whimper at the door more often, letting you know that they need to go out to pee, but then going inside when they can’t get out.
Dogs use their pee to mark their territory, so if they are peeing inside, they are probably letting someone know that the house is theirs. Non-neutered male dogs are particularly prone to this, but any dog might start doing it in response to a threat to their space. This is very often caused by the arrival of a new pet.
You can usually tell if this is the case if they are only peeing a little, as when marking, dogs will often expel just enough pee to make a scent, rather than emptying their bladder. You may also find that they are peeing on vertical objects, rather than just the ground, as this is a common feature of marking.
Being unable to control their need to pee inside could be an emotional response. Over-excitement, the need to submit, anxiety, and fear could all cause your dog to decide to pee wherever they are.
In many cases, you will probably be able to see the interaction that causes the peeing, such as over-excitement or submission. But it is not always that simple. For example, if your dog is peeing inside as a result of separation anxiety, you’ll only find out later. But you will probably see other symptoms of their unstable emotional state.
A number of medical conditions can also cause your dog to lose proper control of their bladder. Common among them are:
- Adrenal gland issues
- Bladder Stones
- Brain disease or dementia
- Cushing’s or Addison’s disease
- Intestinal parasites
- Kidney or liver disease
- Urinary tract infections.
You will need to visit your vet to determine which of these conditions might be behind their inappropriate urinating. They will probably start by looking for a urinary tract infection, as this is one of the most frequent health problems in dogs.
Other common symptoms of urinary tract infections include:
- Urinating frequently
- Difficulty urinating
- Pain or crying while urinating
- A strange color or smell to the urine
- Frequently licking their genitals
If a urine test comes up negative for this, then your vet will start looking at more serious health conditions.
Incontinence can also make it impossible for older dogs to control their bladders. This only generally happens in older dogs ages seven and upwards and will be accompanied by other signs of aging, such as reduced energy levels.
Sometimes this can be treated with medication, but you may also need to resign yourself to a future of doggy diapers.
You might be surprised by the range of doggie diapers available.
Popular Disposable Brand Diapers:
- All Kind Disposable Female Diapers – The simple answer to urinary incontinence, excited urination or marking, these diapers come equipped with moisture-locking technology that absorbs and turns liquids into gel.
- OUT! Disposable Male Diapers – They’re super absorbent and feature an adjustable, fur-safe fit, plus they provide reliable leak protection that won’t let you down.
Popular Reusable Brand Diapers:
- Pet Parents Washable Diapers – Designed with comfort and durability in mind, these diapers have a sewn-in super absorbent pad to hold liquid in the pad, with an ultra-wearable and comfy inner lining that your dog won’t fuss over.
- Pet Magasin Reusable Dog Diapers – These eco-friendly options are made with a soft and dog-comfy fabric that is different than crinkly disposable diapers and washes clean in your household washing machine.
You will find both unisex options and gendered options available, which have slightly different designs to deal with the different anatomy of male and female dogs.
How To Stop Your Dog Peeing In The House
If your dog suddenly decides to start engaging in inappropriate urination, the first thing you need to do is identify the cause. It might be obvious, for example, if you just got a new puppy that is disrupting your older dog’s home environment. However, if it is not a one-off, and you don’t know what the cause is, you need to visit your vet.
Your vet can then run tests to determine whether a medical condition is behind the urinating, and together you can decide on a course of treatment.
But if it is not a medical condition, it will be down to you to solve the problem. Here is what we recommend.
First, you do need to try and understand why they have suddenly adopted this behavior, so you can put an end to whatever the problem is.
If the problem is a new pet, it may be a matter of waiting for them to get used to the new arrival and putting more effort into socializing them together.
If they are drinking too much, you can try and cut down the amount of water available to them or look for unknown sources of water they might be drinking (such as out of the toilet bowl). We advise against reducing the amount of water made available as a dog can easily become dehydrated.
If they are having an emotional response, perhaps to separation anxiety, you can hire a dog walker to take them out during the day and limit the amount of time they spend alone.
Just fixing the problem may or may not be enough to stop them peeing inside, but it is an essential first step.
Retrain Your Dog
For whatever reason, your dog’s normal house-training awareness has gone out the window, so you can retrain your dog to remind them where it is appropriate to relieve themselves and where it isn’t.
For advice on how to do that, read our Ultimate House Training Guide.
Schedule More Bathroom Breaks
As part of their training, schedule more bathroom breaks so your dog isn’t forced to “hold it” for very long. This is also a necessary response for any dog that has developed a weakness in the bladder. They can’t hold it so make sure they don’t have to for long.
You have to remember every dog is different. In our house our Lab mix, Linus and our black lab Stetson were very different when it came to bladder control. Stetson would hold his pee for a maximum of approximately 6 hours.
On the other hand due to an emergency we had to leave Linus home alone for 10 hours with no accidents. In fact, when we took Linus camping he refused to potty on the dirt and held his pee for over 24 hours! This was not good and we were on the verge of leaving the campsite before he finally let it all out.
The lingering smell of urine in a certain part of your home can be a signal to your dog that this is an appropriate place to pee; after all, they have clearly peed there before. This is why any inappropriate urination needs to be cleaned up thoroughly and all scents banished.
You can read our guide on removing pet stains and odors here.
Punishing your dog for urinating in the house is not an effective strategy. Rather than learning that “urinating inside is wrong,” they may well learn that “urinating in front of you” is wrong.
The result, they won’t want to pee in front of you when you take them out for a bathroom break. Rather, they are likely to wait until you are not around and pee somewhere hidden in the house, making it worse.
Rather than getting mad, train your dog about good bathroom habits again. Reward them when they do their business outside as expected, so they learn that this is the best approach to relieving themselves.
Is Pet Urine Bad For You?
You are probably familiar with the idea that cat urine can be bad for you, and this is why pregnant women are warned not to clean up cat business during their pregnancy. But what about dog urine?
Cat feces is problematic because it contains something called toxoplasmosis, which is an infection caused by a parasite that cats can pick up when hunting or from eating uncooked meat. But this does not exist in urine or dog feces, which is why the same warnings don’t exist.
But what dog (and cat) urine do contain is ammonia and in a much more concentrated level than exists in human urine. When breathed in, ammonia is a lung irritant and it can exacerbate the symptoms of asthma and allergies.
While the little bit of urine caused by a puppy isn’t going to do you much damage, if your dog is peeing inside a lot, and the smell is beginning to penetrate your home, especially if it has made its way into carpets, this can be a big problem.
The immediate effects are headaches, nausea, and irritated eyes, nose, and throat.
Touching dog urine when cleaning it up can also be problematic, as it can also contain pathogens, such as Salmonella that cause health problems. If you get it on your hands, it can easily make its way into your system, especially when you touch your face or when you are eating.
These are just a few more reasons to make sure your dog is not peeing inside the home.
Why Is My Dog Suddenly Peeing In The House?
There are a variety of reasons why a dog may suddenly start peeing inside. Doing it repeatedly can be a sign of a medical condition, so you should take them to the vet to get treatment for urinary tract infections of other likely culprits.
However, it could also be behavioral, such as a response to a change of environment or anxiety. To combat this, you will need to do what you can to solve the underlying issue and commit to re-house train your dog.
How Do You Stop A Dog From Peeing In The House?
The first step to stopping your dog from peeing in the house is to identify the cause.
The second thing to do is to visit your vet to see whether it is the result of a medical condition.
Once that is ruled out, you need to look for behavioral triggers, such as a change in environment or schedule. In these cases, it is a good idea to toilet train your dog again and remind them where it is appropriate to pee.
Do Dogs Pee For Attention?
While dogs may pee in the house for a variety of reasons, seeking attention is not usually one of them. They have probably already identified other behaviors, which may be equally annoying, that are better for getting the human attention they crave.
However, you do need to be careful about how you respond to inappropriate urination.
If you respond with punishment, you may just teach your dog that it is not a good idea to pee in front of you. So, instead of peeing outside with you like they should, they may find a hidden place in the house to pee or do it when you aren’t around.
Similarly, you don’t want to chase them away if you catch them peeing indoors, as they may misinterpret it as a game and a reward, suggesting that peeing inside is a positive behavior.
Rather than focusing on punishing their erroneous behavior, concentrate on re-house training them and rewarding them for doing their business where they should.
Do Dogs Pee Out Of Spite?
Unlike humans (and possibly cats), dogs don’t feel spite, so they aren’t peeing in the house to get back at you. They may develop negative bathroom habits as a result of emotional trauma, but this is beyond their control and certainly not an act of spite.
How Can You Tell If Your Dog Has A Urinary Tract Infection?
The main symptoms of a urinary tract infection are constant urination, difficulty urinating, perhaps crying while peeing, peeing in inappropriate places, and frequent licking of the genitals.
How Do You Tell If A Dog Is Marking Or Peeing?
You can generally identify peeing for the purposes of marking by the quantity and the location.
When marking, a dog will generally not empty their entire bladder but rather just expel enough to leave behind a scent.
Also, they will be more likely to spray their marking pee onto vertical objects while they will do their normal peeing on the ground.
It is annoying when your dog decides to start peeing in the house, but it is not a reason to get angry or punish your dog. If they are doing this, it is because they can’t help it.
They may be sick and need medical treatment to resolve a problem like urinary tract infections, or they may be having a behavioral response.
Anxiety can cause them to pee in inappropriate places, as can significant changes in their environment.
So don’t get mad, be smart, and resolve the problem. Take your dog to the vet to identify any health problems that might be affecting your pooch, and organize treatment with your vet.
If they can’t identify the problem, look for emotional and behavioral triggers and try and solve them, and then commit time to re-training your dog on where they should be peeing.
Have you dealt with a pup who suddenly started to pee inside? What did you do?
Share your experiences with the community in the comments section below.
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