Few things feel worse as a dog owner than knowing that your dog has had an accident because you are not around. While there are many situations that might cause you to be away from home longer, there’s always something that feels especially bad about forcing your dog to wait to pee just a little too long. Not only do you have to worry about your dog making a mess in your home, but you’ll also have to deal with the worries that could come from your dog trying not to use the bathroom inside. In short, there’s nothing good about making your dog wait too long to pee.
As a pet owner, it’s your responsibility to look out for your dog’s health no matter what else is going on. As such, you need to have a good idea of how often a should dog pee, how long a dog can hold it, and what to do if your dog is having any kind of urinary problems.
How Often Do Dogs Really Need to Pee?
The good news is that your dog can probably go much longer without peeing than you expect. While dogs, like all other mammals, do have to urinate, dogs also have an astounding ability to hold things in. Adult dogs need to go about once every six to eight hours, which works out to around three to four times a day.
In fact, most dogs are more than happy to get three to five quick potty breaks every day. This gives most dogs enough time to urinate and to do all of their other business without putting any kind of pressure on them. With that said, though, there are a few things that could make it more likely for your dog to need to go out more frequently.
Factors that Impact Dog Urination Frequency
While that number of three to four times a day is usually fairly true for most dogs, there are a whole host of factors that can impact how often your dog needs to go outside. Ages are a huge factor, of course, and puppies tend to pee more often than adults. Likewise, elderly dogs tend to need to pee a little more frequently because their bladders just aren’t as strong and they are more likely to have health issues that require more frequent urination.
The breed is a big one that determines the frequency of urination as well. Toy breeds and massive breeds tend to need to go out to pee more often, while medium and large breeds tend to have an amazing ability to hold things for a bit longer. There are also very specific breed issues that can cause a dog to need to go out more often, with certain dog breeds just not quite having the strong bladders that are possessed by their canine cousins. Indeed, even a slight breeding variation can really make a difference in how often your dog pees. If you have a mixed breed it might be worth getting a dog DNA test to determine whether or not the problem is genetic.
All of this pales in comparison to how health issues can impact your dog, though. There are a whole host of different health conditions that can make your dog pee more or less frequently, many of which are actually fairly serious. Diabetes and tumors can often be common triggers for frequent urination, as can higher levels of obesity. Combined with psychological issues like anxiety, these health issues can play a huge role in how often you need to take your dog outside. In many cases, it may be worthwhile to install an invisible dog fence so that your dog can spend more time outside on a regular basis.
How Long Can Dogs Hold It, Really?
Virtually every dog owner has asked this question at one time or another. Whether you are running late from work or you’re on a cross-country drive, you have almost certainly tried to figure out exactly how long your dog can wait before you need to let him or her out. The bad news is that there probably isn’t a solid number for this, as discussed above. The good news, though, is that there are at least some guidelines that can help you to figure out an answer.
The short answer is that you can usually expect a dog to last for between six to eight hours without having to worry about health problems. You can also generally expect your dog to make it between ten and fifteen hours from time to time, though this is probably unfair to your animal and definitely not something that you can do regularly. This is one of a few reasons why it’s often considered cruel to leave your dog in their crate while you’re working. There are those who try to train their dogs to wait much longer, allowing them to pee about once every twenty-four hours. Doing so can not only feel very cruel, but it can also lead to some real health issues.
Dogs are a lot like humans, in that they do pee for a reason. When they fail to do so, they put extra stress on their bodies that can take the form of some fairly serious physical problems. Dogs can very easily get urinary tract infections from having to hold them for too long, an issue that does generally take treatment with antibiotics to clear up. Even worse, getting a UTI is going to make your dog have to pee more frequently, starting a cycle with which you may not want to keep up (1).
Frankly, it’s best not to try to make your dog wait to urinate as long as physically possible. The nicest thing that you can do is to take your dog out in a timely manner. If you have to wait a little longer due to an emergency, though, you really don’t need to feel guilty. Your dog can wait, just don’t make it a habit.
Worst Case Scenarios
There are scenarios in which you might wait too long to let your dog pee. If you’re lucky, this just means that he or she will make a mess that can easily be cleaned up with a carpet cleaner. If making your dog wait to pee actually changes his or her habits, though, you’re going to need to figure out if it is time for you to call the vet.
The biggest sign that you need to get your dog to the vet is if he or she seems to have pain when urinating. If your dog seems to avoid trying to pee or seems to strain any time he or she needs to do so, you might be looking at some very significant medical issues.
While many do try to call their vets when their dogs start to pee more frequently, that’s not necessarily going to be the right move for everyone. If your dog is peeing a little more often and seems to do so without pain, you should be able to relax and let your dog go about his or her business. It’s only if the frequency of urination greatly increases or if your dog seems to hurt when he or she pees that you really need to call your vet.
The best way to avoid a call to the vet is to let your dog pee when he or she really needs to do so. Try to be home at least once every eight hours, or at least get someone to let your dog out if you’re not going to be home within twelve. While your dog might be able to wait, that doesn’t mean it’s a pleasant experience for the dog.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long is too long for a dog to go without peeing?
Generally speaking, your dog needs to pee about once every six to eight hours. Most dogs can go as long as fifteen hours without peeing, but even this isn’t something that is necessarily good for your dog. As a rule, you really should try to make sure that your dog gets to pee as often as he or she needs to, as failing to allow your dog to get outside in a timely manner can lead to a host of medical problems with which you may not want to deal. It may be worth outfitting your home with an electronic dog door so that your dog can let themselves out as needed, provided it is a safe option for your household.
What happens if a dog holds his pee too long?
It depends on how long you’re looking at. In a best-case scenario, nothing’s actually going to go wrong – your dog is simply going to urinate where he or she is. This might stress your dog out and force you to do some deep cleaning, but it won’t necessarily do anything more. A more serious problem is that holding it in for too long can make your dog develop a UTI, which is a nasty infection that needs medical intervention. As you might expect, this can also have long-term implications for your dog’s health if not properly treated.
Can a dog go all day without peeing?
Most dogs can go about eight hours without really needing to pee. Many dogs can go as long as twelve hours without feeling too uncomfortable, but even that is pushing it if you’re not careful. The question isn’t really if a dog can go all day without peeing, but rather if a dog should go that long. While it’s certainly the kind of thing that might need to happen from time to time, it’s definitely not something of which you want to make too much a regular occurrence.
What happens if a dog doesn’t pee?
Urination for dogs is like urination for humans – an important waste elimination process that is necessary for your dog’s health. At a bare minimum, being unable to pee is going to make your dog feel uncomfortable – in fact, you could probably go so far as to say that it could even hurt. Beyond that, you’re going to start to look at physical problems like Urinary Tract Infections and possibly even damage to your dog’s kidneys. As such, it’s best to make sure that your dog can pee on a fairly regular schedule and to make sure that you contact your vet if your dog is unable to get out and pee.