By: Dr. Clayton Greenway, B.Sc., DVM | Nov 4, 2016
Dr. Greenway goes over medical and behavioral reasons why dogs pee inside the house and how to stop it. Topics covered in this video include medical vs behavioral, senility, sphincter incontinence, bladder stones, urinary tract infection, anxiety, behavior modification, behavior, pollakiuria, blood in urine, blood work, urinalysis, urine test, urine culture, antibiotics, culture and sensitivity resistant, positive reinforcement, behaviorist and avoiding punishment.
I’m Dr. Clayton Greenway with healthcareforpets.com. One really annoying problem is when our dogs are peeing inside the house and there could be a number of reasons for this. The first point I want to make is that it’s very important to deal with this as soon as possible. When this starts to happen, if it goes on for a long time, it’s really hard to reverse once it’s well ingrained, you want to jump on it right away.
Basically there’s two main categories as to what can be going on. There could be a behavioral reason or a medical reason. You have to start with the medical reasons first, so what I’d really recommend is that you go to your vet and you have what’s called a urinalysis performed and a urine culture. What that does is it looks for an infection in the bladder among other things that may cause the dog an irritation in its bladder and make it start peeing in the home. The other thing is it’s good to run general blood work because there’s a lot of conditions that dogs can have that make them drink a lot more and pee a lot more. If they have to pee a lot more they may start doing it inside. One other condition that they can get that’s very specific that you can see in your pet is they can start to have what’s called sphincter laxity which is a level of incontinence where the sphincter that keeps the urine inside the bladder, it can become loose. The way we see this in dogs is wherever they sleep, usually their bedding, they’ll wake up wake up and walk away from it and you’ll actually see a wet area where urine has leaked out. You treat that certainly differently and this is really common particularly in female dogs because that sphincter is sensitized by estrogen. So after they’ve been spayed, they produce less estrogen and this is something we do see happen commonly after spaying, sometimes weeks, months, or years afterwards. Other symptoms you might see is something called Pollakiuria which is where they will pee very small volumes all the time instead of one large pee. The reason why this happens is if the bladder is irritated you have to remember, bladder’s kind of like a balloon and then the urethra is just a little tube so in order to urinate you have to squeeze that balloon to make the urine go through this urethra and you need to relax it. So if the bladder is painful and you go to squeeze it, they’re going to spasm because it hurts and then the urine doesn’t come out that well and so what happens is they dribble just a little bit of urine at a time and then they stop. If you ever see that type of symptom going on in your dog it means the bladder is painful and that they may have a urinary tract infection or some other disease related to the bladder and you’re going to want to see your veterinarian.
As far as getting the medical issues out of the way, once you’ve done that you know now it’s behavioral and what’s really difficult is finding the source or reason of that behavior. A lot of dogs will urinate in various areas of the home when they’re stressed so when there’s renovations or people are coming and going. Probably one of the most common things is when the dog loses that really close friend in the home like that daughter that goes off to university, the dog could start peeing on the bed of that daughter. That’s a common symptom that I see from time to time and that very specifically can be behavioral.
So you’re going to want to do a couple things about this, again you want to rule out the medical reasons, no matter how much you think it’s a behavioral issue, you want to rule those out. You want to address it by retraining them essentially. When they go outside and they eliminate outside, you want to have a special treat by the back door, maybe in a Ziploc bag, little treats that they only get when they urinate outside. Once they urinate you pop one of those treats in and you reward them for urinating outside. You want to get them out as much as possible so you increase your odds of them urinating outside rather than inside, this is called counterconditioning. You’re basically changing the emotion of the dog so that it’s happier when it urinates outside by giving it that treat.
The one thing I’d really refrain from is punishment, we try not to do this anymore in our training. We do a lot of positive reinforcement but punishment would be obviously yelling at the dog, throwing something near it that would scare it when it urinates in the home. These things may terrorize your dog more and cause more stress, we really want to avoid those things.
The last thing is, is you want to look for the reason that might be the stressor causing your dog to do this. So if there are renovations or people coming and going, if there’s something that you think is bothering them, you want to try to eliminate it as best you can to increase your odds that this behavior is going to get better and I really recommend in some cases to find a trainer or behaviorist that could come by your home to figure out why this might be happening. It’s very difficult to find those reasons and an outsider who specializes in that could help you a lot.
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