Web Only Article October 19, 2018

Is Frequent Urination in Dogs Normal?

When frequent urinary accidents in dogs are a medical concern.

It’s a beautiful morning. You roll out of bed, stretch, yawn, get up to make some coffee...and step in a puddle of dog pee. Now that you think about it, your dog has been having some accidents in the house recently. It’s not like your canine companion to suddenly have the urge to go wherever, whenever. Could your dog’s frequent peeing be illness-related?

Increased urinary accidents in the house can point to a health issue and should not be ignored. It could be something as treatable as a simple urinary tract infection or it could be more serious. When you notice that your dog is urinating more, it is important to observe what is happening so that a veterinarian can help you sort out the cause.

With that said, how many times a day should a dog urinate? The truth is, it varies. Large breed dogs may only go every 6-8 hours, while a smaller dog may need to pee more often. As a general rule, every 4-8 hours is normal. Most dogs can hold urine overnight.

little dog peeing outside

Phawat Topaisan

Is this your dog every 2 minutes? He could be urine marking, or it could indicate a medical issue.

What Causes Frequent Urination in Dogs?

To gain more information, watch your dog closely when outside on walks. Many of us let our dogs outside in a fenced yard without direct supervision. Walk with your dog and scrutinize urinary behavior. Is your dog squatting often but only passing a small amount of urine, or is it large puddles each time? Is your dog straining during urination? Is there blood? This information is very helpful in determining the cause.

After a few walks, it’s time to call the veterinarian. During an examination, several things will happen. Your veterinarian should take a thorough history on your pet that includes vaccination status, previous illnesses including urinary tract infections, any medications your dog takes (this DOES include over-the-counter supplements and non-prescription medications such as Benadryl), diet, and possible exposures to any toxins. After this, a head-to-toe examination is in order.

If the symptoms your dog exhibits are straining to urinate, frequent, small accidents or repeated, small puddles when going outdoors, a likely cause is a lower urinary tract issue such as a bladder infection, bladder stones, or cystitis (bladder inflammation). Diagnostics will include a urine sample, urine culture, and possibly x-rays of the bladder. Some breeds such as Schnauzers are more prone to certain lower urinary tract issues like bladder stones.

dog peeing on floor


If your otherwise housetrained dog suddenly starts having accidents in the house, it's time to visit the vet.

If the symptoms are large puddles of urine frequently with increased drinking, this is referred to as polyuria/polydipsia or “PU/PD.” These symptoms require a much more thorough diagnostic approach. Your veterinarian will likely recommend bloodwork, urinalysis, and abdominal xrays to start. PU/PD has a host of causes ranging from metabolic diseases like kidney failure or Cushing’s disease to toxin exposure and elevated blood calcium levels.

Read more on frequent urination here.

Can Spaying Caused Urinary Incontinence?

This isn’t an easy question to answer unfortunately. It does appear that there is a relationship between spaying (called an OHE) and the development of urinary incontinence. It tends to happen within about 3 years after the spay is done and in dogs > 45 lbs. (though any size dog can be affected). The exact cause is unknown. Age of the dog at OHE may play a role, but this is controversial. When deciding a time to spay your female, it is best to have a frank discussion with your veterinarian and weigh the benefits and risks of timing.

Is My Dog Urine Marking?

In some cases, urination in the house can be a marking behavior. This tends to be in unaltered animals, particularly males. It would be unusual for a neutered male or female to suddenly start marking territory, although it does happen – often with the introduction of new pets into the household.


A sudden change in a dog’s urinary habits is always a cause for further investigation. Monitor your dog’s bathroom breaks, then schedule an appointment. Your veterinarian will help determine the cause through a history and physical exam, as well as diagnostic testing. What may seem like a “wee” problem could be something serious, so speak with your veterinarian if you have any concerns.

Comments (7)

In our 91/2 year old Lab/Golden, the sudden large puddles and other accidents in a short time span turned out to be one of several indications of a Cushing's disease tumor. We didn't realize at the time so, as the article indicates, thorough followup is important.

Posted by: Marshall K | November 2, 2018 7:37 PM    Report this comment

Shasta, my Aussie/Great Pyrenees mix, was spayed at about 7 months. She has been raw fed since I took her in as a foster at about 13 months. She has blood work done twice a year since she turned 10.
She developed urinary incontinence at about 12 Ĺ years and after considerable research, and consultation with her vet, we both agreed to treat as spay incontinence using the generally accepted regimen of diethylstilbestrol (DES). It worked! (see: the merckvetmanual.com search 'urinary-incontinence.'

After eight months on DES, she is now on one 1mg tablet every eight days. My goal is to find the maximum dosing interval that controls her incontinence.
Shasta turned 14 this month

Posted by: JackSivak | October 21, 2018 4:12 PM    Report this comment

The incision for spaying can interfere with the central (energetic/acupuncture) meridian and definitely cause issues with bladder control. I am very pro spay and neuter but am disconcerted by how poorly spays are sometimes done, resulting in a lifetime of issues for many dogs. (I have had two.)

Posted by: Natureknowsbest | October 21, 2018 1:47 PM    Report this comment

My current male dog is deemed a "soft dog" (more "sensitive"). When he feels worried, either when around many big dogs (indoor agility classes) or in a new place (my relatives' homes) or when home alone, he sometimes makes little puddles. I think he does it to make himself feel better. When I am home, he can wait 8 hours- I sometimes wake him up to go outside. So another reason for puddles must be a cousin to submissive urination.

Posted by: susan in sf | October 21, 2018 11:23 AM    Report this comment

Sadly I had a wonderful German Shorthair pointer who suffered lifelong painful effects from early spay . Urinary incontinence , failure of her growth plates closing appropriately- causing both spinal issues and torn crucial ligaments and finally the bone cancer that took her life at 13 . Thatís evidence enough for me . Spayed my German Shepard at 18 mos after her third heat - At 7 years she has had no physical problem.

Posted by: Ginabell | October 21, 2018 11:13 AM    Report this comment

An additional cause not mentioned above is neoplasia, such as transitional cell carcinoma (bladder cancer). Although TCC is a rarer form of canine cancer, it is something to consider. We had a dog pass away from this disease about 2 years ago. More information about symptoms, diagnosis and treatment are available on the Purdue vet site (Google "Canine Bladder Cancer Purdue Veterinary Medicine" for the PDF). Purdue (Deborah W. Knapp, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM), Wisconsin, and other veterinary medical hospitals currently have research studies on TCC. If you have a dog with TCC, please participate in these studies if you are able.

Posted by: Sara G | October 21, 2018 10:47 AM    Report this comment

Yes spaying a Female Dog can cause Urinary Incontinence, It's a Life long problem, if the Veterinarian snipes too much, It happened to my Golden Retriever "(Mandy)

Posted by: Lore Watson | October 21, 2018 10:43 AM    Report this comment

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