My little man, Siao Chu, has started to pee inside the vet hospital and being a dog that is completely toilet trained, a few things have crossed my mind. I’ve decided to write a blog to help some pet parents out there that are going through some toileting issues! Inappropriate urination is frustrating to many pet owners, including me, who is a vet! However, it can also be a sign that your dog is not well too.
The first step is to understand why your dog is peeing inside. Often, puppies that are not fully toilet trained can have accidents in the house. However, if your dog is definitely toilet trained, then it is essential to rule out health problems before you investigate behavioural causes. Older dogs that toilet inappropriately are more likely to have medical issues rather than behavioural issues.
Hence, it is very important to have your dog checked by your vet first to rule out serious medical issues.
What kind of medical issues?
Siao Chu is 10 years old and he has been toilet trained since 6 months old. This sudden inappropriate urination in the vet hospital has sparked me to think about a probably underlying medical condition. A few things that I was worried about includes:
- Urinary tract infection (UTI): This is usually caused by bacteria travelling up into the urethra. Treatment involves oral antibiotics.
- Bladder stones: This is an abnormal and painful collection of minerals. Overtime they can get very large. Some breeds are more predisposed to bladder stones than others! Chu being half Bichon Frise, this was higher on my list.
- Cystitis: Inflammation of the bladder
- Diabetes – diabetic patients drink a lot of water which in turn, the need to urinate more frequently
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Urinary tract growths
The first thing that we did for Siao Chu was a full blood test and urine test. This would help investigate his liver, kidneys, glucose levels, signs of infection in his blood and many more! Fortunately, his blood and urine test came back negative! Phew!
However, if your dog has any abnormalities in their blood and/or urine test, your vet will most likely recommend further diagnostic testing which may include abdominal x-rays, ultrasound of the bladder or even a scope!
How about incontinence?
Incontinent dogs can not control their bladder properly and this can be confused with being inappropriate urination. Believe it or not, I actually went through the vet hospital video camera to check if Chu was incontinent or if he was aware when he urinated!
Your vet will gather a detailed history to determine if your dog is incontinent.
Signs of incontinence can include:
- Dribbling urine whilst walking
- Leaking urine in bed
- Free-flowing urine
Incontinence can develop due to:
- Hormonal conditions in desexed female dogs
- Spinal cord injuries
- Congenital abnormalities
- Effects of medication which increase drinking and urine output eg. steroids such as prednisolone and diuretics such as furosemide (heart medication)
- Arthritis pain when crouching down to urinate
Why is it behavioural?
After your vet has ruled out medical conditions, your dog is likely peeing inside because of a behaviour problem. For Siao Chu, after extensive workup, we diagnosed his inappropriate urination due to behavioural issues! Yup, he has some serious case of separation anxiety (he is perfect in my eyes!).
Behavioural problems causing your dog to pee indoors include:
- Territorial marking: Territorial marking can occur commonly in dogs, especially male dogs. If this becomes a learned behaviour, you will need to work with a dog behaviourist to train them out of it.
- Stress and anxiety: Separation anxiety in dogs can also cause them to urinate when they are left alone. Anxiety is a medical issue that will need to be discussed with your vet.
- Excitement and fear: Some dogs pee indoors when they are approached by humans. Your dog may roll over on their back too. This is called submissive urinating and is a behavioral issue. This is an issue you need to work with a dog behaviourist.
- Weather-related: Some dogs will urinate indoors when it is raining outdoors. This can be a learned behaviour you need to train them out of.
If your dog is peeing indoors, come in and speak to your vet. It is important to address urinary issues early before the medical or behavioural issues worsen.