How Long Can a Dog Hold Its Urine: A Comprehensive Guide

We’ve all done it. Holding your pee so long that you feel like you’re going to explode is awful. It’s no different for your precious pooch. Dogs need regular bathroom access, but how regularly should they be heading out to relieve themselves? New dog owners ask about pet ownership details like this all the time. Fortunately, I have plenty of answers about dog pee. I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about potty breaks so you can get your pup on a proper pee schedule.

How long can a dog hold its’ urine? A dog can hold its urine in for about one hour per month old or a maximum of eight hours. While some large breed working dogs can hold for longer, it’s not suitable for any canine to hold it in as this can lead to incontinence later in life. Take your dog out at least three to five times per day. 

How Often do Dogs Pee

When you get your first puppy, there are so many questions, like how often do they pee? Tiny puppies, like other baby mammals, have no idea how to hold it. As frustrating as those little puddles can be, they are normal. As your dog grows, they’ll learn just like you did. Luckily, they grow fast.

A one-month-old pup can typically retain urine for about an hour before they have to go. As puppies grow up, their bladder expands, and the need gets less. Every month or so, your new puppy should add an hour to their waiting time.

Once they’ve reached eight or nine months old, you’ll have an idea of how long they can wait to go. While some variation is normal, eight hours is the max for most breeds and individual dogs. However, if your pooch is a teacup breed, their diminutive size comes with an itty bitty bladder. They’ll have to go out more often.

The largest dogs, especially those who work, like herding dogs, police K9’s, and rescue working Rovers, can sometimes hold it quite a bit longer. Having a bigger dog means a sizeable bladder. Likewise, it also means drinking more water. As a result, many large dogs still max out around eight hours.

Strange Dog Pee Facts

Dogs don’t just pee to empty their bladders. They mark their territory to let other dogs know they live there. Sometimes a dog will even mark people or other dogs. They aren’t trying to be rude, but it’s how they let other animals know which stuff belongs to them.

Have you ever seen a dog kicking dirt, or making motions on grass and cement, like a cat who is trying to cover up their poop? It may seem like the same thing, but it’s not at all.

Felines do bury their waste. Canines, on the other hand, are digging to make the smell more evident to other animals in the area. If you look at the mark as a statement, “This is mine,” then that strange little dirt kicking ‘thing’ they do is like punctuation. Specifically, it’s an exclamation point. They are adamant about this spot belonging to them.

Marking behavior harkens back to a time when their ancestors ran in packs. To let other wild dogs know that an area was occupied, they left scent marks. People do something similar when we put up fences or walls and add no trespassing signs to our homes. It’s a warning to intruders that whatever is inside has been claimed.

Modern dogs may not need to mark like their ancestors did, because humans care for them and set the boundaries. However, the instinct is still there. It hasn’t bred out in the last ten thousand years, so try to be patient with your peeing pooch. He’s just letting the neighbors know to stay off his lawn.

A New Revelation in Urine

Before reading this, you probably thought that there was a much more significant difference between large and small dogs’ ability to hold their urine. That’s a reasonable assumption. After all, a big dog has a bigger bladder, and a small dog has less space inside.

The ability to hold and expel urine has more to do with proper hydration than the size of the bladder. Moreover, researchers recently discovered that most mammals over two point two pounds spend roughly the same amount of time peeing. It takes about twenty seconds to empty your full bladder, whether you’re a small cat or an elephant.

I can’t imagine why someone would want to know that, but it makes perfect sense. Our systems are biologically similar. All mammals have a bladder and urethra to expel our liquid waste. Proportional size means a larger or smaller opening, so we’re all designed to get rid of liquids similarly.

Additionally, it’s likely that the shrinking and expansion of the tissue effects pee-times. Too fast, and it could cause damage. Meanwhile, an overly slow system would cause more of a dribble than a stream. Not only would that be messy, but it wouldn’t allow accurate marking for many species.

Should I Worry if My Dog Isn’t Peeing

Getting your dog out to pee often enough is vital. Their body depends on the ability to get rid of urine. If your favorite Fido squats and nothing comes out, you should be concerned. Fortunately, sometimes it’s as simple as getting them more water on a hot day.

On the other side of that coin is trouble. Dogs can form blockages in their bladder. Moreover, holding it too long can cause your pet’s bladder to burst. Whatever the cause, you should always pay attention and be concerned if your pet can’t or won’t pee.

If you have a dog who is prone to urinary issues, the vet is the first step. However, you can do more for them. Get a great dog food designed to help their urinary tract health like Royal Canin Veterinary Urinary SO from Amazon. A dog’s diet can make a world of difference and help keep them healthier, which in turn can mean they live longer. Get your dog the right food for their unique system. To check prices and availability, click here

Doggy Hydration

Like all mammals, your dog needs water to survive. Too much and they’ll pee more often, but too little could kill them. Especially in summer, or when you have a super-active dog, you need to make sure they are getting enough water.

The average dog drinks 8.5 to 17 ounces of water per 10 pounds of body weight every day. It will be more if they are more active, and when it’s warm. However, people forget that bodies are also very active in cold weather. Your dog may need extra water if they’ve been chilly for a while.

Every cell in our bodies and our pets require water to function. Without it, the blood becomes too thick to flow. This can lead to lethargy, coma, and even death if left untreated.

When to See Your Vet

Don’t panic if your dog got a little overheated and didn’t pee the way they should one time. Get them some extra water, and make sure they behave normally after that. However, if your dog doesn’t pee for a full day, its time to hit the emergency vet right away.

Other problems to look out for include squatting, and straining. If your dog can only pee a trickle, that is a problem. Moreover, if your ordinarily healthy dog seems to be leaking urine, then you may have a bigger problem on your hands than puddle cleanup.

Similarly, if your dog makes sad noises when they pee, or howls, they are probably telling you something important. You should listen. Your dog is saying that they are uncomfortable or in pain. Anytime you are concerned about your dog not peeing right, get to a vet. Urinary issues can cause significant problems for your dog very quickly.

What to Expect at the Vet

Tell your vet everything you know about what’s been going on. If the dog in question hasn’t been drinking or eating regularly, they need to know. Answer all the questions they ask honestly. When you’re guessing, let them know.

The veterinarian will probably give your dog an examination. They’ll check eyes, mouth, and maybe even palpitate (push on) your dog’s stomach. After that, they may want a urine sample to check for infection. In extreme cases, or if they have cause for concern, then the vet may order blood draws or x-rays.

For an extremely dehydrated dog, they will give your pet electrolytes. Sometimes intravenous fluids are necessary. If the vet wants to keep your dog overnight for observation, then your pup had a severe issue. However, that doesn’t mean it’s deadly. They probably want to make sure your pooch gets back to their usual self.

Conditions Affecting Dog Urination

Dogs can have several problems with peeing and their bladders. Dehydration is prevalent, especially in warmer months. However, there are other potential problems to watch out for as well. Anytime a dog doesn’t urinate as expected, you should be aware. Early detection can help your pet live a long and healthy life.


Dogs can get urinary tract infections (UTI’s), just like humans. These are quickly cleared up with antibiotics. Additionally, it’s more common for female dogs to get UIT’s than males. However, any dog, regardless of age, breed, or gender, can get an infection in their bladder. Most importantly, you should never expect a canine’s potty problems to simply, ‘get better,’ on their own.

Typically UTIs are bacterial. They are often caused by healthy intestinal bacteria that have gotten past the intestinal tract and managed to work its way into your dog’s bladder by defeating its natural defenses.

Watch out for blood in the urine, or excessive self-licking in the area, as these may indicate a problem even if your dog is pottying normally. Other symptoms like accidents, cloudy urine, fever, or changes in appetite can also mean a UTI.

More Serious Potty Concerns

Sadly, the same symptoms that can tip you off to a doggy UTI may also indicate more serious problems. Urinary blockages can trouble your dog and may require medication or even surgical removal in severe cases.

Beyond that, trouble peeing can indicate injuries or even cancer. Pee problems can warn you of kidney problems and Cushings Disease. Though these are less common, and I don’t want you to panic if your pup has a little problem peeing, you should always keep an eye on their elimination habits.

See the vet ASAP when you suspect trouble. Early detection can save your dog a lot of pain and may even save their lives.

What Happens to Dogs Who Hold It

If you think an accident is the worst thing that can happen to a dog who holds their urine too long, I have bad news. There’s a whole host of trouble that can come from not going pee. Make sure your dog can go when their bladder is full.

Health Hazards

A dog who’s forced to hold their bladder too long once might pee on your floor. However, a pooch who never pees on time is doing damage to their bladder. This can lead to incontinence later in life. No one likes cleaning up puddles, but it’s so much worse if you find out you caused them because of improper potty training habits.

Your dog can have surgery for incontinence. Colposuspension on female dogs or cystourethropexy for males helps reposition the neck of the bladder. However, it’s not a guaranteed fix. About seventy-five percent of dogs who’ve undergone this surgery see improvement. However, only around fifty percent are ‘cured.’

I wish that was the worst thing that can happen to your dog if they hold it too long. However, there’s evidence that the carcinogens in urine can cause a much more alarming and sad problem for your pup.

Your dog eliminates a lot when they pee, not only excess fluids. The carcinogens in urine can lead to cancer if not promptly and adequately removed from a body. Cancer is a nightmare. It hurts and kills your pet, plus it’s expensive and heartbreaking.

As a responsible pet owner, you need to make sure your dog has access to the bathroom when they need it, not just when it’s convenient for you.

Cleaning Up Accidents

It’s essential to clean up any pee your dog gets on the floor or furniture right away. The longer it sits, the deeper it will soak. Unfortunately, this makes it much harder to get out later.

First, mop up as much of the wet as you can with a dry towel or paper towels. Next, you’ll want to get the remainder with a damp mop or a sponge. However, the smell will likely linger if you stop there. You need an excellent pet enzyme cleaner to get the rest of the odor and pee out of problem areas.

I suggest the dog owners keep a jug of Bubbas Super Strength enzyme cleaner around for doggy accidents. It’s incredibly useful on carpets, rugs and hardwood floors, among other surfaces. Whether you have new puppies, older incontinent dogs, or a rescue who isn’t adequately trained yet, you can pick some up from Amazon when you click here.

Make an Indoor Potty Zone

Plenty of dog owners are under the impression that there’s no reason to ever have a trained dog pee in the house. However, from snow to high heat, weather can give your pet trouble getting outside to do their business.

You can put in a doggy door, but there are times when your pet may not use it. For example, pregnant pooches might hesitate to scrape their underside on the door if it hs a lip. A sick dog may not feel up to heading outside, just like humans who don’t want to get out of bed when they’re ill. Hence, you still need a second bathroom for your Fido.

It’s not just rain or hail that can stop Spot from using the bathroom outside. Dogs who are sick or stuck indoors for prolonged periods may need to go. A sensible solution is to have a dog safe indoor potty area.

Having an emergency pee-pee place does not mean you should skip training your dog. Not only do they need to get out to walk anyhow, but it’s not healthy for you or your dog to have them use your home s a toilet. I strongly suggest limiting the indoor potty to emergencies only.

Some pet parents put down disposable potty-pads, but they’re messy and bad for the environment. If you must use a pad, go with a wash and re-use variety. Better still get a grass ‘rug.’ Look for one that has proper drainage and a base to catch urine.

Whether you opt for astroturf or a genuine growing mini lawn, make sure your dog has somewhere other than your Persian rug for when they can’t wait. You’ll save yourself and your pet a lot of trouble and trauma if you make sure they can go when they need it.

I suggest the Pee Wee Dog Park from Amazon. It has fake grass with drainage holes and an easy to clean slide-out tray. Though they call it a doggy litter box, I think of it as more of a pooch port-a-potty. We take it with us when we travel, and it’s great for boats, training, and those days when you work overtime. You can pick one up for your pet when you click here

Final Thoughts

No one enjoys cleaning up a puddle of piddle, but every dog owner will probably do so at some point. The keys to minimizing the issue are simple. Make sure you don’t ask your dog to go too long between bathroom breaks and provide a safe space inside for emergency pottying.

Keeping an eye on your dog’s urinary health, and maintaining your bathroom routine will help your favorite Fido stay healthy longer. Avoid health problems by not forcing your dog to try and keep their pee inside too long. It’s terrible for their health.

The good news is that most adult dogs can hold it for your workday. However, if you’re gone longer than eight hours, you may want to engage a dog walker to stop by and take Rover to relieve himself.

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