How Long Can a Dog Hold its Pee?

How Long Can a Dog Hold its Pee?

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If you are a dog owner, and you have to stay late at work one day, you may wonder if your best friend will be able to hold his urine until you get home. For owners who live in apartments or those who keep their dogs indoors, a valid question is how long can a dog hold its pee?

Not everyone has a doggy door with access to a backyard or a dog run, and not everyone can take their dog to work or get a break during the day to take their furry friend for a walk. If you are a dog owner, you may want to know how long your best friend can hold it, and the steps you can take to ensure that he won’t have an accident in your home if you are gone for an extended period.

How Long Can a Dog Hold its Pee?

The answer to these questions depends on the dog, the age of the dog, and whether the dog suffers from any medical or health conditions. Typically a healthy, adult dog can hold his urine for up to 8 hours or longer. Of course, this depends on the overall health of the dog, and whether or not he has a medical condition such as diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, or renal insufficiency. These and other health issues can cause dogs to urinate and/or defecate more frequently than normal, and that affects how long a dog can hold his pee.

Most veterinarians suggest not letting your dog go more than 10 hours without urinating, and this goes for any size dog, big or little. However, younger dogs and smaller dogs may have to potty more frequently than larger dogs. The average adult dog normally relieves himself 3-5 times daily, and at least once every 8 hours.

What Factors Affect How Long a Dog Can Hold its Pee?

Several factors influence how long a dog can hold his urine, and these include the following.

  • Age. Age is perhaps the most important factor in knowing how long your pet can hold it between potty breaks. Puppies who are very young and not potty trained will not be able to hold their urine as long as an adult dog, and this is because their bladders and urinary tract systems have yet to fully develop and mature. Also, puppies lack the muscle control needed to hold their urine for extended periods, and regular potty training helps them to develop these muscles that control their bladders.

    In general, puppies under 6 months can hold their urine for 1-3 hours, and puppies over 6 months can hold it for 2-6 hours.
    Adult dogs can typically hold their pee for 6-8 hours as their urinary bladders are mature.

    Senior dogs often cannot hold their urine as long as adult dogs, and as they age they may lose muscle control of their bladders. It is not uncommon for senior dogs to experience weakening of their urinary muscles causing them to need more frequent bathroom needs. On average, senior dogs can hold their urine every 4-6 hours, and very senior dogs can hold it for 2-4 hours.
  • Size. The size of your dog can also be a factor. For example, a teacup Chihuahua won’t be able to hold his urine as long as a Great Dane, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that all big dogs can hold their pee longer.
    Veterinarians estimate that healthy adult dogs produce 10-20 ml of urine per pound of body weight, so if you have a 5-pound dog, that’s about 1-3 ½ ounces per day, which does not sound like a lot. A larger dog at 55 lbs can produce ½ – 1 liter of urine per day. Of course, this also depends on the health condition of your dog, and if your dog is a big drinker, urine production may be more.
  • Medical Conditions. Certain medical conditions influence the frequency of urination in a dog. For example, dogs with diabetes often drink more and urinate more, so they will need more bathroom breaks than non-diabetic dogs. Also, dogs with renal and kidney issues need more frequent potty breaks, as they tend to drink more as well. Dogs on certain medications, such as heart medications, may also need to go more often. If you have a dog with a medical condition, consult with your local veterinarian.

As mentioned above, adult dogs can hold their pee for several hours, and on average they can hold it for up to 10-12 hours if needed, but this is not ideal. If your dog has to hold his urine for extended periods, it may result in negative consequences.

What Happens if My Dog Does not Pee for a Long Time?

If your adult dog goes longer than 8-10 hours without urinating, this could cause some concerns and can result in some of the following issues.

  • Urinary tract infection. One role of the urinary bladder is to flush out toxins and bacteria that build up in the kidneys and bladder, and if your dog holds his urine too long, these elements can build up in the bladder and the urinary tract, creating an atmosphere for bacterial buildup and infection. Also, infrequent urination can contribute to the formation of crystals and bladder stones, which can block the urethra and cause a medical emergency.
  • Urinary Incontinence. Although the inability to hold urine is more prevalent in older dogs, it can happen at any age, if a dog is required to hold his pee for too long, the bladder can be over-extended and stretched, leading to a weakening of the surrounding muscles. This weakening can cause leaking and incontinence.

If your pet is experiencing any issues or difficulties urinating, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. Infrequent or straining to urinate can be signs of a medical condition, and should be addressed as soon as possible.

What Can I Do to Help my Dog?

If you work long hours or are required to be away from your best friend for extended periods, there are a few things you can do to make your pet more comfortable when it comes to potty breaks. And these options depend on your, your work schedule and lifestyle.

  • Puppy pee pads. One solution that can offer your pup a way to relieve himself while you are gone is to invest in some puppy pee pads. These items can be purchased at any pet store or online, and consist of a bottom plastic layer lined with absorbent material. You can place the pee pad in a convenient area or a kennel for your dog so that he can relieve himself if needed. It may take a bit of training to get him used to the pad, but it can save you a bit of clean-up later.
  • Indoor potty system. For dogs who can roam free in a home or an apartment, an indoor bathroom like this can allow your dog to relieve himself as needed. These items are typically constructed of astroturf to simulate grass and are essentially a litterbox for dogs. Some are quite elaborate and even some with plastic fire hydrants.
  • Doggy daycare. Another solution can be enrolling your pet in a doggy daycare. This can be especially a good idea if you have a dog that needs a lot of attention, and cannot be trusted home alone. Doggy daycares are great for socializing your pup, and also good for dogs who suffer from separation anxiety.
  • Take a lunch break. If you are lucky enough to live close to home, you may have the opportunity to take your best friend for a walk and a potty break while on your lunch hour. This would offer you and your pet some quality social time during the middle of your work day.
  • Doggy door. If you have a backyard or a fenced area, you can also consider installing a doggy door. These are a life-saver for dogs left at home for extended hours and gives them the freedom to come and go as they wish. Some doggy doors also come with equipped security features that ensure that only your dog can go through the doggy door.
  • Take your dog to work. Although this may not be an option for many individuals, some employers may allow staff to take their dogs to work. This can be a wonderful option for both your and your best friend.

Final Thoughts

When wondering how long your dog can hold his pee, the answer depends on many factors such as age, size, medical condition, and your dog. There are many solutions for offering your best friend the opportunity to relieve himself during the day while you are not home, and it may take a bit of trial and error to find out which one works best for you and your pet.

In any event, it’s recommended not to force your dog to hold his urine for long periods, and if you can, think about some of the suggestions above to help him relieve himself while you are away. if you have any questions about the health and wellbeing of your dog, contact your veterinarian for more information and advice.

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