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Score for Seniors:
Activity Level:
Weight: Pounds

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Your Answers:

  1. Your senior dog is aware that they are peeing inside the house (for example by squatting or getting into position to pee)
  2. your senior dog is peeing more frequently (but not in larger quantities)

Most Likely Reasons that Your Old Dog is Peeing Inside (Based on Your Answers)

If your dog is aware that they are peeing and they are peeing more frequently then they likely have some sort of urinary bladder issue such as cystitis or a urinary tract infection. Irritation within the bladder likely leads to a constant sensation of needing to urinate – they’re getting ‘caught short’.

Alternatively, they could also have doggy dementia – i.e. they have forgotten when they last urinated or drank so they do so more often.

1. Bladder Issues

Bladder issues such as cystitis and irritation within the bladder can lead to a constant sensation of needing to urinate. One major cause of bladder irritation is the formation of crystals within the urine which, if left untreated, can accumulate into bladder stones. Concentrated urine, infections and other chemical imbalances can lead to the formation of these crystals.

These crystals can act like sand within the bladder, causing abrasion to the sensitive bladder lining thus leading to bleeding and discomfort. In severe cases, bladder stones can block the urethra thus preventing urine from being able to pass, this is an emergency potentially life-threatening condition.

Another bladder issue that is of more relevance in older dogs, is bladder neoplasia, or bladder cancer. Tumors developing in the bladder wall will result in extreme irritation and will reduce the bladder’s ability to retain urine, thus creating the sensation of needing to urinate more frequently.

Symptoms include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Blood in urine
  • Pain/excessive straining when urinating
  • Visible ‘sand’ in the urine
  • Lethargy

Diagnosis is achieved via analyzing the urine under a microscope for signs of crystals or abnormal cells, bladder x-rays and ultrasound scans of the bladder.

Treatment options:

The treatment of crystals within the urine will depend on the type of crystals present. Some crystals will dissolve once the urine becomes more dilute or if the pH is changed, whereas other crystals are insoluble once they have formed. For the former, changes in diet, rehydration and treatment of any concurrent infection can allow the crystals to dissolve. For the latter, the crystals or stones sometimes must be removed via surgery through a procedure known as a cystotomy. This involves opening the dog up to access the bladder in order to manually remove the stones.

Treatment of bladder cancer is via surgical removal (although this can be challenging) or chemotherapy. This will depend on the type of cancer present and how invasive it is.

2. Urinary Tract Infection

An infection within the bladder can lead to irritation and the constant sensation of needing to urinate. Any dog can get a urinary tract infection, although it’s most often seen in females. Urinary tract infections can usually be treated pretty easily, but you NEED to get the right antibiotic prescription from your vet. Sometimes a urine sample might need to be cultures in order to isolate the type of bacteria present.

Although UTIs are obviously uncomfortable (even painful) for your dog and inconvenient for everyone, they are generally not serious to begin with, unless there is a more sinister underlying cause.

WATCH: 3 Important Tips To Care For an Old Dog [VET VIDEO]

Symptoms include:

  • Frequent & urgent need to pee: he/she needs to ‘go’ a lot more often than normal… and that the urge to pee seems to be… well… suddenly extremely urgent! Plus, Fifi may only pass a few drops of urine even though she’s been dancing around in circles as if her bladder was bursting.
  • Cloudy urine
  • Traces of blood in urine
  • Frequent licking at genitals or her sides

However, repeated UTI’s can also be caused by diabetes, kidney problems and bladder/kidney stones. If you leave the problem untreated it can become serious and affect other organs such as the kidneys. If you think that your dog (or pup) may have a bladder infection like this, get her examined by your vet right away.

3. Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

An older dog peeing in the house frequently, especially a ‘senior’ dog (and large or extra-large breeds can be considered seniors as early as seven years old), might be suffering from Canine Cognitive Dysfunction.

It’s also known as ‘Old Dog Syndrome’ and is very similar to human Alzheimers Disease or dementia. In this case, the physical cause for the unusual peeing isn’t located in the bladder/kidneys, but in Fido’s brain.

The changes that are going on there make him confused, and he might be urinating indoors because he’s ‘forgotten’ that he’s supposed to do his business in the yard. Sometimes old dogs with this condition seem to be unaware of their surroundings, or actions, and he might not even realize he’s peeing (or pooping) at the time, or afterwards.

There are lots of different symptoms of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, and the frequent need to urinate is just one of them.


  • Frequent urination
  • Sleep disruptions
  • Loss of appetite
  • Confusion
  • Behavior changes
  • Restlessness
  • Shaking, trembling, panting

Although this all sounds worrying, there are things you and your veterinarian can do to help your senior dog if he does turn out to be experiencing old dog syndrome.

Sometimes these symptoms can come on very slowly and owners think it’s just that their pooch is getting old. But normal aging doesn’t generally make a dog upset, anxious, miserable or confused! Your vet can make a diagnosis and make sure Fido gets the right treatment. There are medical options available to improve the functioning of the brain. How well your dog responds to treatment can vary and they may always be a little more confused than usual, that’s where management and lifestyle changes come into play.

What You Should Do

We recommend that your consult with your vet for a full exam and bring a urine sample with you. For most of these conditions, including bladder issues and UTIs, your vet is likely going to be able to come up with a plan to help alleviate these symptoms.

It is also important that your vet rules out other serious conditions that could also cause your old dog’s peeing inside the house (such as diabetes or Cushing’s disease).

We also recommend that you read our 6 ways to help manage your dog’s incontinence to help make your life and your dog’s life easier.

You can also go back to our main page about senior dogs peeing inside.

Important note: Please consult with your veterinarian to determine the correct diagnosis. There could also be other reasons causing your old dog to suddenly start peeing inside. It is also important that your vet rules out other serious conditions that could also cause your old dog’s peeing inside the house.

Disclaimer: This website's content is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care. Always consult with your local veterinarian for health decisions. Learn more.


  • Alex Crow is an RCVS accredited Veterinary surgeon with special interests in neurology and soft tissue surgery. Dr Crow is currently practicing at Buttercross Veterinary Center. He earned his degree in veterinary medicine from the Royal Veterinary College (one of the top 3 vet schools in the world).

Disclaimer: This website's content is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult with your veterinarian to determine the best course of action. Read More.

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