Dogs, like humans, have to go to the bathroom, but how often do they really need to go? How long can dogs hold their pee? This is a common question from dog owners and the answer is not as straightforward as you may think.
Your dog's ability to hold their pee is dependent on a number of factors, such as age, size, and health issues. A dog's ability to "hold its pee" can vary greatly, so it's important to figure out the length of time your dog can hold it based on them as an individual.
Read on to discover how long a dog can hold their pee and what you can do to increase the amount of times a day they need to go.
What Factors Affect How Long a Dog Can Hold Its Pee?
How long your dog can hold their pee will directly affect how long you can leave them home alone without being let out for bathroom breaks. Typically dogs can hold their bladder for long periods of time, but there is such a thing as too long.
Unfortunately, as owners, we often don't realize just how long we're asking our dogs to hold their pee and many loyal canines have developed health issues as a consequence of this.
Whether your dog is having accidents, you are house training a puppy, or even if your dog seems fine, it's good to know how long dogs can hold their pee, so you can make positive choices for your dog's urinary tract health.
We'll talk about each in turn, but here are the factors that affect how long a dog can hold their pee:
- Health Status
Understanding your dog's habits and needs will allow you to create a routine that prevents your dog from holding their pee for too long and gives them the bathroom breaks they need.
This is the biggest variable in determining how long dogs can hold their pee. While adult dogs can generally hold their pee for a long time, puppies and senior dogs cannot. Puppies have smaller bladders and their muscle control isn't well-developed, so they will not be able to hold their pee for very long.
Senior dogs can lose muscle control as they age. Weaker muscles, mobility issues and other health concerns can contribute to an inability to hold their bladder for long periods of time.
It's important to note that the information on how long dogs can hold their pee listed according to the life stage below is based on an average. These numbers are a good starting point for understanding how long your dog should be able to hold their pee, but every dog is an individual. How often you need to take your dog pee can vary greatly among dogs.
How long can a puppy hold their pee?
Puppies under six months old can hold their pee for 1-3 hours. Their bladder is small and underdeveloped, so they need to pee frequently. Up to 6 months old, dogs need to be taken out every hour while they are house training. They may be able to hold their pee for up to three hours overnight.
How long can an adult dog hold their pee?
Adult dogs are able to hold their pee for up to 12 hours if necessary, but this doesn't mean they should. Adult dogs should be let out for bathroom breaks 3-5 times per day or every 6-8 hours.
Many adult dogs are able to hold their pee longer when they are alone in the house. Because their training tells them that going to the bathroom in the house is bad, some dogs hold their pee so long that they cause damage to their urinary tract.
As an owner, it's important not to ask your dog to hold it longer than necessary. If you must leave them alone for long periods of time, it may be worth hiring a dog walker to let your dog out to pee at midday or installing a doggy door so your pet can go out on their own.
How long can senior dogs hold their pee?
Senior dogs can't hold their pee as long as younger dogs. While some dogs hold their pee for up to eight hours well into their golden years, many seniors need to go more frequently. Take your senior dog to pee every 4-6 hours during the day to avoid urinary problems. Most older dogs hold their pee for up to eight hours at night, unless they have health issues that don't allow them to do so.
A dog's body size affects how long they can hold it as well. Smaller dogs have smaller bladders than large dogs, so they usually need to go to the bathroom more frequently. Best estimates suggest that dogs pee about 10-20 mL per pound of their body weight each day. However, every dog is different, as is the amount of urine their bladder can hold. Your dog could fall above or below these averages, so it's important to develop a schedule that fits your pet.
Many health problems can affect how long dogs hold their pee. Urinary infections, diabetes, kidney problems, and weight problems can all affect your dog's bladder. Medications can also have an impact. Some medications make a dog pee more often, while others make them go less.
Urinary functioning is greatly affected by a dog's diet. Hydration status is important. Dogs who are fed moisture-rich foods, like wet or raw foods, will have to pee more often than dogs who are fed dry food. While they may have to go more often, this is a good thing! Healthy functioning means that your dog is digesting their food properly and is able to flush out toxins and bacteria from their body.
That said, dogs who are fed dry kibble aren't less healthy or necessarily dehydrated. Some dogs are better at consuming water than others. If you are concerned about your dog's hydration status, you can do a quick check by looking at the color of their urine. Dark urine indicates dehydration - if your dog is dehydrated, it's time to increase the amount of water they're consuming.
As always, if you are concerned that your dog isn't getting adequate hydration, it's a good idea to discuss the problem with your veterinarian.
Managing Your Dog's Urinary Tract Health
As with humans, urinary tract infections are common in dogs. While they are caused by bacteria that have traveled inside the urethra, they happen often when a dog is forced to hold their pee longer than they should. Adult dogs should be let out to pee a minimum of once every eight hours. While some dogs hold their pee longer than this, it's not a good idea to make your dog do it.
The first noticeable symptom of urinary tract infections is frequent urination. If your dog needs to pee more frequently than normal, it's a sign they may have a UTI. Other symptoms include blood in the urine, excessive licking of the genital area, and changes in your dog's behavior. It's important to have your dog examined by a veterinarian if you think they have an infection.
If your dog is struggling to urinate or can't seem to pee at all, they may be suffering from kidney stones. This can become a medical emergency if left untreated, so call your vet as soon as possible if you think your dog is struggling to empty their bladder.
Balancing Everyday Life With Meeting Your Dog's Needs
One of the biggest challenges dog owners face is meeting their dog's needs during the workday. If you're one of many owners who work away from home for 8+ hours each day, how do you make sure your pet can empty their bladder when they need to? Here are some practical options to meet your dog's needs:
- Pee pads - For young puppies who can't hold it or dogs who are crate trained, pads are a good option to avoid training derailments when you can't be home to let your dog out.
- Dog walker - Hiring a dog walker to let your dog out during the day not only allows them to empty their bladder but can help provide some much-needed exercise.
- Doggy daycare - Some owners choose to enroll their dogs in daycare while they are at work so their pets get the attention and exercise they need during long workdays.
- Lunch breaks - If you work close to home, using your lunch break to duck home and let your pup out will manage bathroom needs and give them some extra attention and exercise.
- Doggy door - If your yard is fenced securely, installing a doggy door that allows your dog to go in and out as they need to is a fantastic way to alleviate worries about your dog getting to the bathroom when they need to.
The answer to the question of how long dogs can hold their pee is dependent on several factors like age, size, health status, and diet. Healthy adult dogs are able to go 6-8 hours and should be let out between 3 and 5 times each day. Puppies and seniors can't hold it as long and will need to be let out more frequently.