Yorkshire terrier dog peeing in the house

Male dogs may pee at home to mark their territory.

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How to stop my dog from urinating in my house

By Dr. Pete Wedderburn, BVM&S CertVR MRCVS Veterinarian

Updated on the

There are several reasons why your dog has started peeing in your home – from an infection to separation anxiety – but it doesn't have to be difficult to fix this issue.

Dogs live in our homes as part of our families and most learn about house training as puppies, so are well house-trained as adult dogs. If dogs start house soiling by urinating in the house (rather than outside), it’s very upsetting.

This article explains why dogs pee in the house, and what you can do to solve the problem.

How do you stop a dog from peeing in the house?

There are three stages to stopping a dog peeing in the house:

First, find out what is causing the dog to pee in the house. Common health problems that can cause this include male hormones (causing territory marking) and urinary tract infections (causing increased urgency to urinate). Older dogs may also start to do this, for various reasons including canine cognitive disorder (“doggy Alzheimer's”). Diagnosis of this underlying cause is essential.

Second, treat this underlying reason. Note: there are also some behavioural reasons e.g. submissive urination (some timid dogs pass small amounts of urine, if they are anxious or nervous), and separation anxiety can cause some dogs to urinate and defaecate in the home. A discussion with a dog trainer may be part of the solution, if the cause is behavioural.

Third, take simple steps to remove all traces of urine from the places that have been soiled. This means cleaning the areas thoroughly (use a solution of biological washing powder in warm water, then rinse this, dab the area dry, then spray with surgical spirit, then dab dry to remove all traces). This third step needs to be carried out regardless of the underlying cause.

Why is my male dog peeing in the house?

The male hormone, testosterone, sometimes gives male dogs an extra strong urge to mark their territory with urine. So when a male dog starts to cock his leg around the home, with short squirts of urine, it may be due to his “maleness”. It’s still worth ruling out other causes, but if it is a “male” problem, then the answer may be to consider having him neutered (castrated). This is something to discuss in more detail with a vet.

Should I pee on my dog to show dominance?

Definitely not. This would be cruel, disgusting and completely useless. Apart from anything else, dogs do not use urine to show dominance, and punishing your dog makes no sense at all.

How can you tell if your dog has a urinary infection?

A urinary tract infection (UTI) causes irritation of the wall of the bladder, giving dogs an increased sense of urgency to pass urine. They are a common cause of dogs suddenly starting inappropriate urination, such as peeing in the house. There is no easy home test for a UTI. But you may suspect a UTI if your dog starts to urinate more often than usual, in small amounts, often in shorter bursts, in unusual places (such as inside the house) and sometimes you may notice blood in the urine. If you see these signs, you should discuss what to do with a vet.

How did my dog get a UTI?

There are several possible underlying causes, including crystals in the urine or bladder stones, physical trauma (e.g. a road accident) or, rarely, tumours on the bladder wall. But in most cases, bacterial infections of the urinary tract happen seemingly spontaneously, with no detectable cause. Female dogs are more prone than male, due to their anatomy.

How long does a dog UTI last?

Without treatment, a UTI could linger on for many weeks or even months. With the correct treatment, the signs should resolve within a few days. As such, it's always best to go see a vet.

Can my dog die from a urinary tract infection?

If a UTI was left untreated, it could spread internally, leading to complications such as a kidney disease, which could have fatal consequences. This is why prompt treatment is so important.

Can a dog UTI go away on its own?

Given that UTIs are usually caused by bacteria, they are unlikely to resolve by themselves. Antibiotics are nearly always needed to eradicate the bacteria that are causing the problem.

How do vets test for UTI?

The most effective way to diagnose a UTI is by examining a fresh urine sample. Vets carry out simple tests, including a dip stick for protein, blood and other constituents, as well as measuring the specific gravity (concentration) of the urine, and sometimes checking any sediment.

How does the vet get a urine sample from a dog?

The easiest way to collect a urine sample is to simply follow a dog around as they walk past a typical urinating spot. When the dog squats to pass urine, a urine collection container is whipped underneath the animal. At home, you can use a large plate or bowl, but vets often use a stainless steel or plastic kidney dish. A teaspoonful of urine is all that’s needed. This should be transferred into a sterile container (a plastic or glass sample jar) and labelled.

What do vets prescribe for UTI in dogs?

Each vet has to make the best decision depending on the individual details of the case. Typically, a course of broad spectrum antibiotics may be given. Ideally, a urine sample should be sent to the laboratory for bacterial culture and antibiotic sensitivity, to determine the most effective antibiotic. In practice, for cost and other reasons, this is not always done, especially on the first episode of a UTI.

Can I treat my dog’s UTI at home?

No. It will help your dog if they drink as much as possible (e.g. leave out more bowls of fresh water for them), but medical advice and prescription-only medicines, like antibiotics, are essential to treat UTIs, so you really do need to take your pet to the vet.

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