Dogs peeing in sleep is a common problem that many pet owners have to deal with. It can be a frustrating problem to deal with, as it can damage furniture and carpets and become a hygiene issue. However, it’s important to understand that there are several reasons for a dog peeing in sleep, some of which might require veterinary attention.
Urinary Incontinence in Dogs: Uncontrollable Urination
Dogs who pee in their sleep exhibit urinary incontinence — a condition in which dogs are unable to control their bladder. In some cases, dogs may not even be aware that they’re peeing. Your pooch might sleep right through the leakage and continue to relax throughout the episode.
Urinary incontinence can occur in any dog but is most common in middle-aged female dogs. This is because the female hormone estrogen strengthens the muscles that help with bladder control. Spayed females have fewer of these hormones, which can lead to involuntary elimination.
Incontinence is much rarer in male dogs, though neutered males — like spayed females — are more likely to develop incontinence than their intact counterparts are.
Here are some of the most common reasons that dogs pee in their sleep:
Urinary Tract Infections
The Problem: One of the more common reasons why your furry friend may be peeing in her sleep is a urinary tract infection or UTI. This painful condition can cause our furry friends to urinate more frequently and may make the process of urination very painful. In addition, the inflammation associated with a urinary tract infection may make it difficult for your pup to notice that she is peeing while asleep.
Other signs of a urinary tract infection include:
- Strong-smelling urine.
- Dripping urine.
- Blood in the urine.
- Frequent licking of the genital area.
You might also notice your dog drinking water more frequently.
Possible Treatments: Your vet will likely order a urinalysis to verify your dog is suffering from a UTI. Your veterinarian may also ask for a urine culture and sensitivity test since several different types of bacteria can cause UTIs. The culture will help determine what type of antibiotic makes the most sense for your mutt. Additional medication may be prescribed to help her cope with the associated pain.
After your dog runs her course of antibiotics, her urine will be rechecked to ensure that the infection has fully cleared.
The Problem: Some dogs might have a hormonal imbalance due to conditions like hypothyroidism, which can affect your dog’s ability to control her bladder. You might also notice changes in your dog’s appetite, weight, or energy if she’s struggling with hormonal imbalances.
Possible Treatments: Your dog must undergo a series of blood tests to verify that she’s dealing with a hormonal imbalance and determine its root cause. From there, your veterinarian may prescribe a hormone replacement medication that your mutt will need to take regularly.
The Problem: Dogs with spinal issues may have reduced sensitivity in their affected areas, which can, in turn, lead to incontinence. Some more common spinal issues — like degenerative myelopathy (DM) — are common in certain breeds.
Unfortunately, it’s not unusual for dogs with spinal issues to also have fecal incontinence. You may notice weakness in your furry friend or pain localized around the spine. Due to this condition, your dog may be less mobile and act more lethargic.
Possible Treatments: Spinal problems are often diagnosed through imaging techniques, such as MRIs or X-rays, and examining your dog’s medical history. Unfortunately, incontinence is often associated with the later stages of spinal issues. There isn’t a treatment for all spinal issues. Still, your veterinarian can help point your pooch to physical therapy and enact other lifestyle changes to help your canine companion feel as comfortable as possible.
The Problem: Bladder stones are painful build-ups of minerals in the bladder. Dogs with bladder stones may be seen straining to urinate or have blood in the urine. This condition can be potentially life-threatening if your dog’s urine is blocked, so it’s essential to head to your local animal hospital as soon as you suspect this may be the issue (plus, it’ll likely be crazy painful for her).
Possible Treatments: Bladder stones can share many of the same symptoms as more common bladder infections, which is why it’s so important to receive a proper diagnosis. Your veterinarian can identify bladder stones using an X-ray or an ultrasound.
If the stones are fairly small, your veterinarian may be able to flush them out with a non-surgical method called urohydropropulsion. Surgical removal via a cystotomy is necessary for larger stones, though luckily, the operation has a fairly quick recovery time.
Moving forward, your vet may adjust your dog’s diet or prescribe medications to help prevent bladder stones from developing in the future.
xThe Problem: Dogs with diabetes tend to exhibit increased thirst. This causes them to drink more water, which in turn means they have to urinate more often. And this may occasionally lead to accidents — including during the night.
A few other symptoms associated with diabetes to watch for include your dog having bad breath, lethargy, and weight fluctuations. Dogs may be more likely to develop diabetes based on factors such as their breed, genetic history, and obesity.
Possible Treatments: Your veterinarian can test for diabetes by checking your dog’s blood and urine glucose levels. Once diagnosed, pet parents must give their pups a daily insulin shot to keep the condition under control. Affected dogs may also require a modified diet and exercise routine.
The Problem: Chronic kidney disease can cause extreme thirst, leading to frequent full bladder and incontinence. Your dog may also experience lethargy, bad breath, ulcers, vomiting, and diarrhea if she’s suffering from kidney disease.
This condition is typically seen only in older dogs since a majority of the kidneys must usually be dysfunctional before any clinical symptoms are seen.
Possible Treatments: Chronic kidney disease is diagnosed through urine and blood testing. The prognosis and treatment depend on the state of your dog’s kidneys. Your veterinarian may recommend certain medications, a diet change, or regular home fluid therapy to keep your canine as comfortable as possible.
Neutering or Spaying
The Problem: Unfortunately, incontinence is occasionally a downside of spaying and neutering dogs. It obviously doesn’t always happen, but it is a risk pet owners must consider.
The removal of the testicles or ovaries during the neuter and spay processes leads to decreased estrogen and testosterone levels. These hormones provide assistance to the muscles related to bladder control. Therefore, when the hormones are imbalanced, incontinence can occur.
Possible Treatments: If your vet suspects your pup’s levels are low, he or she may recommend taking a synthetic form of estrogen, like diethylstilbestrol. Your dog might also need phenylpropanolamine, a medication that increases muscle tone in the urinary tract.
The Problem: In some cases, your dog’s bladder may frequently contract, leading to small amounts of urine leakage. This bladder storage dysfunction can be traced back to other underlying issues like genetic predisposition, anatomic defects, or weakened muscles.
Possible Treatments: Bladder contractions may be caused by a variety of factors, including hormonal imbalance or underlying disease. Therefore, your veterinarian will consider your dog’s medical history to determine the best course of action regarding testing and treatment. Your dog will likely be prescribed medication to help strengthen the muscles associated with bladder control.
The Problem: Your dog may have a congenital defect that is leading to poor bladder control. It could also experience bladder issues because its anatomy was damaged due to an injury. Some of the more common conditions that may cause urinary incontinence include ectopic ureters (ureters connecting directly to the urethra instead of the bladder), urethral hypoplasia (improper development of the opening of the urethra), and abnormalities associated with the vulva.
Possible Treatments: If your dog’s anatomy can be corrected through surgical intervention, your veterinarian may recommend a laser procedure or open abdominal surgery to correct the affected area. Phenylpropanolamine and other medications may also be prescribed to help decrease your dog’s incontinence.
The Problem: Some dogs will not urinate because they are experiencing stress, fear, or other behavior issues. But your pooch can only “hold it” for so long! So, accidents may occur when your pooch simply cannot control her bladder any longer, leading to leakage while your sweetie sleeps.
Possible Treatments: Your veterinarian will likely have your dog undergo CT scans, urine, and blood testing to rule out any disease or neurological cause. If there’s no underlying cause, it may be a matter of adapting your lifestyle to help manage your mutt’s symptoms. It’s possible that a certified dog behavior consultant may be able to help your dog build confidence to eliminate properly on a more regular basis, but this won’t work in all cases.
The Problem: Neurological diseases can also cause urinary incontinence. This could include brain diseases, lesions, spinal issues, or disruption of the nerves that help regulate the bladder. One of the most common brain issues that cause incontinence is canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD), essentially doggie dementia. Dogs with neurological issues may also experience fecal incontinence.
Possible Treatments: Issues in the brain are primarily identified using a CT or MRI scan. Your veterinarian will need to rule out all possible causes, so your furry friend will also likely undergo blood and urine testing. The treatment outlook depends heavily on your hound’s specific diagnosis. In some cases, only medical management will be possible for affected dogs.
Older dogs are more prone to bladder issues than younger dogs. Older dogs may struggle to hold their urine for long periods or have difficulty controlling their bladder muscles. This can lead to accidents during the night.
If your older dog is peeing in their sleep, it’s important to provide them with frequent outdoor potty breaks to help them empty their bladder. You can also consider using puppy pads to help contain any potential accidents.
Anxiety and Stress
Just like humans, dogs can experience anxiety and stress. This can be caused by a variety of factors, such as changes in their living situation or routine. Anxiety and stress can lead to changes in behavior, including an increase in the frequency of accidents during the night.
If you suspect that your dog’s peeing in their sleep is due to anxiety or stress, it’s important to identify the cause and take steps to address it. This may include providing your dog with a safe and quiet space to sleep or working with a professional dog behaviorist to help them adjust to changes in their environment.
Coping with Canine Incontinence: Implement Management Solutions
While you obviously need to work with your vet to get to the bottom of your pup’s nighttime pee-pee problem, that doesn’t mean you just have to deal with a wet dog bed every morning. Instead, you can implement some management solutions for older incontinent dogs to help reduce messes or, at least, make them easier to clean up.
This includes doing things like:
- Picking up a waterproof dog bed that won’t absorb your dog’s urine (you could even purchase a bed designed specifically for incontinent dogs).
- Purchase some doggie diapers to help keep your pet’s bed dry. And if you don’t want to buy some, you can actually make DIY dog diapers yourself.
- If you’re dealing with a male dog having accidents, you may want to fit him with a dog belly band to keep him dry at night.
In addition to these things, you may want to pick up a carpet cleaner for dog urine, a pet-safe carpet deodorizer, or a pet-safe floor cleaner if you have tile, wood, or linoleum floors. These products won’t only help keep your home smelling fresh but also help prevent the kinds of ongoing accidents lingering pee-pee odors sometimes cause.
Practice Patience With Your Pooch
While urinary incontinence is undoubtedly difficult to deal with as a pet parent, remember to avoid taking out your frustrations on your furry friend. After all, it isn’t something your canine companion can control.
As painstaking as it is to constantly clean up after your dog, hang in there!
It’s a good idea to notate whenever your furry friend wets the bed to provide your veterinarian with the most thorough depiction of your puppy’s predicament. Commit to the treatment plan provided by your veterinarian, and be sure to take note of anything out of the ordinary.
Urinary incontinence can be incredibly challenging for you and your canine companion. Hopefully, this article brings you one step closer to finding a solution for your sweetheart. With the help of your veterinarian, you’ll be able to make your canine more comfortable in no time at all.
Overall, there are a number of reasons why dogs pee in their sleep. While it can be a frustrating and messy problem to deal with, it’s important to understand that underlying medical conditions or behavioral issues may be the root cause. By identifying the cause of your dog’s behavior, you can take the appropriate steps to help manage and prevent accidents during the night.