It sometimes feels that as a new puppy owner, a disproportionate amount of time is spent thinking about their toilet habits. One concern that frequently comes up is that puppies seem to pee a lot… So what’s normal… and healthy?

Puppies naturally have very small bladders, and the younger they are the more frequently they need to pass urine. A useful rule of thumb is that a puppy should be able to hold their bladder for the same number of hours as their age in months. So a one month old puppy can hold urine for around an hour. But a 6 month old puppy can usually go for around 6 hours if needed. The length of time will also be affected by the size of the dog, so smaller toy breeds will be less likely to hold their bladder for as long as large breed puppies at the same age.

Peeing more than usual?

If you are concerned that your puppy is peeing more than they should, the first thing to decide is whether there could be an underlying health problem. It can be useful to look for other potential signs of problems:

  • Is their urine normal in colour, can you see blood?
  • Does your puppy find passing urine difficult or painful?
  • Are they licking their genitals frequently?
  • Are they drinking more than you would expect?
  • Do they seem unwell in themselves?

Common causes of increased urination

There are a number of different causes if your puppy is peeing more than usual. Your vet will usually have to examine them to determine which it is.

Urinary infections

A common cause of frequent peeing in puppies, especially females, is a urine tract infection. Puppies with urine infections will often strain to pass small amounts of urine frequently. And there may sometimes be some blood visible. Urine infections often require treatment with antibiotics. So it’s important to speak to your vet if you are suspicious your pet may be suffering from one. If the problem keeps coming back then they may suggest further tests are carried out to look for more serious problems such as a kidney infection or bladder stones.

Plumbing problems

Some puppies are born with physical malformations affecting their bladder and associated structures. This may mean that urine leaks out without the puppy being aware or make them prone to frequent bladder infections. If your vet suspects this may be the problem, then they will usually recommend an ultrasound scan or x-rays to examine the internal organs for problems.

Too much drinking means…

Another reason for urinating a lot, especially if the volumes of urine are large, is that your puppy is drinking too much water. Sometimes this can be a behavioural problem. But it is important to rule out more serious conditions that may be making them drink excessively. Occasionally puppies can be born with malformed kidneys that don’t work properly. Or have hormonal problems including diabetes that mean they are unable to make concentrated urine. Your vet will usually ask you to measure the amount of water your pet drinks in a day. They may then recommend tests such as a blood test, urine test or ultrasound scan to narrow down the list of possible causes.

Once you have consulted your vet and they are happy that there is no underlying medical cause for the excessive peeing then it is worth looking at possible behavioural reasons why your puppy may be urinating more than usual. 

Attention seeking can be one common issue 

Frequently asking to urinate can be a pretty effective way to get your attention for a playful puppy. No one wants to risk an accident, so you are almost guaranteed to get up from what you are doing to attend to their needs. This behaviour can be improved by ensuring you and your puppy have lots of positive and stimulating interactions throughout the day. Mix things up with walks, play sessions and general fuss, and ensure they are being challenged mentally as well as physically with training and puzzle toys. 

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Urinating when they are scared is another common puppy problem

This often stems from a general level of anxiety. It should never be punished as this is only likely to make matters worse. Frightened puppies need lots of reassurance and positive reinforcement, gently building up their confidence. They should be provided with a safe place where they can retreat to if scared. If the behaviour seems to be getting worse rather than better it may be sensible to consider speaking to a qualified behaviourist who can help you with strategies to reduce their anxiety.

Peeing from excitement is not unusual in puppies

The good news is that most of them will grow out of it. In the meantime try and ensure play areas and places where they are likely to get excited are washable or covered up so if an accident happens it’s not a problem. Never punish them, and work on positive toilet training methods and things should improve given time.

It is also worth making sure toilet training is up to scratch

Use lots of positive reinforcement and avoid punishing accidents. Ensure toilet trips are frequent enough for the age of your puppy and that they are given ample opportunity to relieve themselves, bearing in mind a garden or walk can provide lots of distractions away from the matter in hand! Puppy crates can be useful if your pup is to be left for short periods as they are less likely to urinate in their beds, reducing the chance of accidents.

Excessive urination can be a very frustrating problem for a new puppy owner 

Always consult your vet to rule out medical causes. Never punish your puppy for accidents as this can make matters worse. Remember their bladders are still small and they are still learning what they should do. Positive reinforcement is by far the best method of training and with time and consistency most peeing problems can be overcome. And if not, there’s always a vet to help you out!

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