Why is my dog struggling to urinate and having difficulties holding in her urine overnight?

Original Question: My 10-year-old female poodle cross has started to want to go outside more often than usual. She squats to urinate but sometimes nothing comes out. She also cannot seem to hold her urine for 6 to 7 hours overnight anymore and ends up going on the floor. She’s always been good with housetraining. She also has been drinking more lately. Just wondering what this could be a symptom of? Thank you. -

Why is my dog struggling to urinate and having difficulties holding in her urine overnight? Apr 26, 2018

Hi there,

Thanks for your question.

Yes! This is a concern and is likely a symptom of something that should be addressed.

We call this symptom Pollakiuria. It means frequent urination with small amounts of urine released. It often indicates an irritation in the bladder or urethra.

Urinating is actually a complicated neurological task. If you think of the bladder as a balloon and the urethra like a tube leading from the balloon, then in order to urinate, you need to constrict the balloon/bladder and at the same time relax the tube/urethra to allow urine to flow. If the bladder is painful and the body tries to constrict it, then pain is experienced and it causes the system to spasm. This means the tube/urethra is squeezed during the spasm and the urine can’t pass well or the stream of urine ends prematurely.

The causes of this symptom can be an infection, bladder stones, a bladder mass, cystitis (bladder inflammation) or prostatic disease (in males only) to name a few. An infection is by far the most common cause. My recommendation is to have your veterinarian perform a urinalysis and a culture and sensitivity test on the urine. It will help determine if there is an infection, crystals which could indicate stones or abnormal cells. If these tests are negative, I move to imaging of the bladder and urethra to determine the cause.

I always like to take a special point of performing the ‘culture and sensitivity’ test on the urine. It is a test that is underperformed and it is very sensitive to finding infections. It also will indicate what bacteria is present and which antibiotics will work to eliminate it. Keep in mind that bringing in a sample of urine will guarantee that bacteria will be present in it from the container you use to catch the urine. I always perform a cystocentesis, which is a rapid procedure to obtain a urine sample directly from the bladder and it will ensure that it is uncontaminated and the results are reliable.

I hope this helps and good luck.

Dr. Clayton Greenway

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