The question of how long can a dog hold their pee is an age-old question that plagues new puppy owners and dog parents that are extra busy on certain days. The question isn’t about making your pup hold his pee for as long as he can so you can get some extra shut-eye or stay out of the house longer, but it’s to understand how often you need to let your dogs relieve themselves.
We’re going to answer the question and also talk about what happens if your dog holds his pee for too long and if there is anything you can do to make potty training or your dog’s bathroom schedule easier on the both of you.
How Long Can a Dog Hold it?
How long a dog can hold it will depend on a few factors. We’re going to break them down into bite-sized chunks for easy absorption. You can read through the list and identify which category your dog falls under to determine how long your specific dog can hold his pee. In general, a healthy and full-grown pooch can hold it anywhere between 10-12 hours. Some can do it longer and some need to go sooner than that.
The first determiner is the age of your dog. If you just brought home an 8-12 week old puppy, don’t be surprised if he is having accidents every 15 or 20 min. For a young puppy that hasn’t gone through potty training, you go outside with your new furry family member after every meal and every time he or she drinks water.
As a young dog, his bladder is still underdeveloped, which results in the inability to hold in his pee. As your dog ages, the urinary contraction muscles will also mature and your pet will be able to hold his pee for longer each month.
As your dog ages, the bladder and urinary muscles will regress, which will lead to eventual incontinence in some breeds. Some senior dogs will also experience organ failure and shutdown, which could also lead to the inability to hold their pee for long.
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The breed and the size of your dog will also affect the frequency of bathroom breaks. For obvious reasons, toy to small breeds has much smaller bladders than a larger lab or Saint Bernard. Due to the discrepancy in bladder size, a small chihuahua will need bathroom breaks much more often than a Siberian husky. This is just a generalization because there are plenty of small dogs that have no problem holding in their pee for hours on end and some big dogs just need to go.
Pee habits are also very subjective, so get to know your dog and his potty habits to decide on a regular bathroom routine.
Similar to most other animals on the planet, the more hydration a dog has, the more he will need to pee. How much moisture dog food contains will also add to the frequency of potty breaks. For example, if your puppy is fed wet food or raw food that’s already very high in moisture, then you will see more bathroom trips.
Kibble diets can be very dry, so a puppy on a kibble diet will most likely pee less. In our dog food articles on kibble, we often advise the dog owner to keep plenty of water handy for their canine. You don’t want frequent peeing, but you also want to make sure your dog has enough water with dry dog food. A way to make sure if your puppy is getting enough water is to check the color of his pee.
Like us, the yellower the urine is, the more dehydrated your dog is. Feed your dog the type of food that’s best for him, and don’t choose dry food in an effort to minimize his pee.
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Is your dog 100% healthy? Dogs that are suffering from kidney issues could need bathroom breaks much more often. Even dogs on medication can suffer from more pee, and even urine tract issues can make your dog want to go more often than not. If you notice that your dog is suddenly going to the bathroom more than before, then it’s time to get him checked out at the vet.
What Happens Without Regular Bathroom Breaks?
Just because your dog can hold his pee for 10 to 12 hours, that doesn’t mean you should challenge their ability or allow it to happen too often. It’s more acceptable if your dog is asleep for that long without waking up, but that isn’t very likely. Your pooch will move, switch positions and wake up in between, which will also prompt him to use the bathroom.
Holding in his pee for 8 to 12 hours every once in a while is okay, but what happens if it’s a frequent occurrence?
Let’s start with the most serious consequence first. If your dog holds his pee for too long much too often, he could develop urinary cancer. It’s not a very common issue, but it is the one that is the most detrimental. Cancer in dogs is a very serious problem and can cost an arm and a leg to treat. Not to mention, your dog will suffer and that is not what any dog owner wants.
Urinary Tract Infection
Urinary tract infections are something we share with dogs if we hold our pee for too long. Bacteria and toxins our body is trying to expel accumulate in our bladder, and it’s the same with dogs. If a dog holds his pee for too long, the bacteria will fester and lead to a urinary tract infection, or UTI for short.
Incontinence is another consequence of your dog holding his pee for too long. It can happen to dogs at any age, but it’s much more commonly seen in senior dogs. Essentially, the muscles that are supposed to contract and hold in the urine will give way after being over-extended. Your dog will leak urine uncontrollably and require surgery to fix the problem and require diapers to treat the problem.
While it may not be life-threatening, incontinence is a bothersome issue many dog owners would rather not deal with, so the key is prevention!
Potty Training Tips
We won’t go into too much detail about how to potty train your dog, but there are some factors you need to know before training so you don’t mistake certain behaviors for incontinence or acting out.
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One of the most common issues we can see in a dog is excitement peeing. This happens more in smaller breeds and plagues dogs of any age. Excitement peeing can happen when your dog sees anything excitable. It can happen when you come home from work when he sees his best friend or his favorite treat. It doesn’t mean he can’t hold it any longer, it’s because his eagerness overtakes his control.
Luckily for us dog owners, this can be trained with patience. Just ignore your dog when you know you’re doing something that excites him. When he calms down is when you can award him with your attention. You may notice that older dogs of a year and older will eventually grow out of the habit.
Fear or Anxiety Peeing
On the flip side, your dog can release when he is overly fearful or anxious. Being scared and anxious can be a hereditary issue, and some dogs just have a jumper personality. This cannot be avoided, but it can be helped. If you think your dog suffers from fearful or anxious peeing, then treating the root of the problem is the best approach. We would suggest meeting with a professional trainer to understand what sets your dog off and address the issue.
Male dogs will mark. That’s just a fact of life, so don’t be surprised if your male puppy starts to lift his leg and pee on things he decides are his after a few months. It will happen especially around your property because he wants to show other dogs that it is his space. Fixing your dog will stop the frequent marking, but some dogs eventually cease on their own.
How to Make Life Easier
It all sounds so complicated, but we have a few tips that will make life with your puppy easier. Many people are adamant about only allowing their dog to go outside of the house. The potty training for this will take a lot of effort on your part because you will need to go outside with your dog to let him relieve himself, and we know puppies need frequent urination. To combat this, you can think about having a potty corner for your dog where you place a pee pad for urination at home.
Because dogs need walks every day, he will most likely do his poop outside and sometimes 2 or 3 times. If your dog does this, there is less of a chance he will go poop indoors, especially when he’s older. If you insist on only allowing pottying outside, then consider a doggy door that will still give your dog the freedom to do his business in your absence.
There are plenty of secure options such as doggy doors that will only open if your dog is wearing a scannable collar. If you don’t have a fenced-off yard or live in an apartment, then a dog walker is a good idea. This is especially true if you work office hours that won’t allow you to return to take your pet out for a break.
If you can come back during your lunch break, then that can help your puppy greatly, but for young dogs, we still suggest hiring someone because they need to go so often. In a pet-friendly workspace, you can consider taking your pet to work with you. If all else fails, doggy daycare is an excellent way to not only give your dog the flexibility to go whenever he wants and to socialize your pet.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long is too long for a dog to go without peeing?
Your dog can hold it anywhere between 10 to 15 hours at the very most before he will suffer from health conditions. An adult dog may be able to do it for that long at times, but doing so will result in health issues such as infections and more. Pet owners should try to take their dog on a bathroom break every 1 to 3 hours depending on the dog breed and try not to exceed 8 hours at night.
What happens if my dog holds his pee?
Experts say a dog can hold his pee every once in a while, but serious health issues can arise if they are required to do so frequently. Your dog may end up suffering from cancer, incontinence and UTIs. Even a potty-trained dog will have a problem holding it. To avoid detrimental health issues, we strongly advise not letting your dogs hold their pee for more than 8 hours at a time.
How long after a dog drinks does it need to pee?
Factors such as age will determine how quickly your dog will need to pee after drinking. Puppies have a smaller bladder and will need to go as soon as 10 min after, while adult dogs will have much more control. To avoid accidents with puppies we suggest taking younger dogs out for a urine break after meals and drinking water.
How many times does a dog poop a day?
Each dog is different. We have seen dogs that poop once a day and are fine until the next day, but we also have experience with dogs that go 5 times a day in one walk! It all depends on your dog, but make sure that the frequency doesn’t deviate from the norm. For example, if your pet often goes twice a day, but there is one day where he goes 5 times, then you need to be on the alert.
Check the consistency of his poop and see if it was a one-off or if he continues to poop this often. If your dog has runny poop or diarrhea, then he most likely has an upset stomach. If the consistency is normal, then further monitoring is required.
Your dog is very resilient, and he can most likely hold his pee for 8 or more hours. However, it’s never healthy to make a dog hold in his urine for more than 12 to 15 hours frequently. Do your best to give your dog the freedom to go whenever he needs to whether it’s getting a doggy door, placing a pee pad in the house, or coming home and taking him out as often as possible. Not allowing your dog to go when he needs to will lead to health problems such as bladder stones, cancer and UTIs.
If you decide to switch up your dog’s potty routine, it can confuse him. For example, if your dog only goes outside and you want to allow him to go inside, it will take some time to train. Faux grass potty trainers with attractants can help guarantee success.
Did You Know?
Consistency is the best for your dog during potty training. Take him to the same spot every time so he understands what to do, and don’t forget to reward him every single time!