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Dog Bedwetting: Why Does My Dog Pee In Their Sleep?

Written by: Dr. Athena Gaffud

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Time to read 7 min

Dog bedwetting can be frustrating for pet owners, especially when it becomes a recurring problem. But why does your dog pee in their sleep? In this article, we will explore the underlying causes of this issue and provide solutions to help you and your dog sleep peacefully through the night.

Common Causes of Dog Bedwetting

bed wetting

Dog bedwetting can occur for various reasons, and understanding these causes is crucial in finding the appropriate solution. Here are some common factors that may contribute to your dog's bedwetting habits.

Urinary Tract Infections

One of the most common medical causes of dog bedwetting is a urinary tract infection (UTI). UTIs can cause frequent urination and can lead to accidents during sleep. Bacteria can enter the urinary tract, causing inflammation and discomfort for your dog (Foster, J., 2020). 

If you notice your dog having accidents during sleep along with other symptoms like frequent urination, blood in the urine, or straining to urinate, it's essential to consult your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment (David, E., Blancaflor M., & Irish, E., 2024).

Hormonal Imbalances

Tao, Y., Heit, M., Lei, Z., & Rao, C., 1998Hormonal imbalances, such as low levels of estrogen or testosterone, can also contribute to dog bedwetting. These imbalances can affect the muscles controlling the bladder (Tao, Y., Heit, M., Lei, Z., & Rao, C., 1998), leading to involuntary urination during sleep. Hormonal imbalances can be more prevalent in older dogs or those who have been neutered or spayed. Consulting with your vet can help identify if hormonal imbalances are the cause of your dog's bedwetting.

Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition that affects dogs as well as humans. When a dog has diabetes, their body is unable to regulate blood sugar levels effectively. Increased thirst and frequent urination are common symptoms of diabetes in dogs (Montgomery, J. & Fontana, L., 2023). If your dog is experiencing bedwetting along with these symptoms, it's crucial to have them checked for diabetes by a veterinarian. Proper management of diabetes can help reduce bedwetting incidents.

Medical Conditions That May Cause Dog Bedwetting

Owner Scolding Her Dog for Wet Spot on Carpet

In addition to the common causes mentioned above, several other medical conditions could contribute to dog bedwetting. It's important to be aware of these conditions to ensure your dog receives the necessary treatment. Here are a few medical conditions that may cause bedwetting in dogs.

Bladder Stones

Bladder stones are mineral formations that can develop in a dog's bladder (Fitzsimmons, P., 2017). These stones can cause irritation and discomfort, leading to increased urination and potential bedwetting. If your dog has bladder stones, they may also display symptoms such as straining to urinate, blood in the urine, or signs of pain. A veterinary examination, including urine analysis and imaging, can help determine if bladder stones are the cause of your dog's bedwetting. Read “Understanding Bladder Infection in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment”.

Incontinence

Farmer, V., 2023Incontinence refers to a loss of bladder control and can occur in dogs of all ages (Farmer, V., 2023). It is more commonly seen in female dogs, especially those that have been spayed. Weak bladder muscles or hormonal imbalances can contribute to incontinence, resulting in bedwetting during sleep. Your veterinarian can perform a physical examination and recommend appropriate treatment options to manage incontinence in your dog.

Neurological Conditions

While it's important to understand a dog's ability to survive without food, it's equally crucial to recognize signs that indicate a dog is in need of immediate food intervention. If your dog shows any of the following signs, it's essential to seek veterinary attention and provide nourishment as soon as possible:

Behavioral Factors Contributing to Dog Bedwetting

While medical conditions play a significant role in dog bedwetting, behavioral factors should not be overlooked. Dogs are creatures of habit, and certain behaviors can contribute to bedwetting incidents. Understanding and addressing these behavioral factors can help improve your dog's sleep patterns and reduce bedwetting accidents.

Anxiety and Stress

Small mixed breed dog barking

Anxiety and stress can affect dogs just as they do humans. Dogs experiencing anxiety or stress may exhibit behaviors like excessive licking, pacing, or urinating inappropriately, including during sleep. Changes in the household, separation anxiety, or traumatic events can trigger anxiety in dogs. Identifying and addressing the underlying causes of anxiety can help reduce bedwetting incidents. Read about “Addressing Canine Anxiety: The Finest CBD Solutions for Your Dog”. Consider consulting with a professional dog trainer or animal behaviorist to develop strategies to manage your dog's anxiety.

Lack of Housetraining

Owner Scolding Her Dog for Wet Spot on Carpet

Some dogs may continue to have bedwetting accidents because they have not been properly housetrained. If your dog was not adequately trained as a puppy or if you recently adopted an adult dog with an unknown history, they may not have learned appropriate bathroom habits. Consistency and positive reinforcement are key when housetraining your dog. Establish a routine for bathroom breaks, reward your dog for successful elimination outside, and consider crate training to prevent accidents during sleep.

Marking Behavior

dog marking fence

Male dogs, in particular, may engage in marking behavior by urinating on objects or territory to communicate with other dogs (Lindell, E., et al, 2024). While marking is a natural instinct, it can become problematic when it extends to indoor areas or during sleep. Neutering your male dog can help reduce marking behavior, but it may not completely eliminate it. Consistency in training and providing appropriate outlets for your dog to mark outside can help manage this behavior and reduce bedwetting incidents.

How to Address Dog Bedwetting Through Training and Behavior Modification

Dog on Toilet Seat

Dog bedwetting can often be attributed to certain behavioral and training issues. By understanding and addressing these underlying causes, you can effectively help your dog overcome bedwetting.

Establish a Consistent Routine

One of the first steps in addressing dog bedwetting is to establish a consistent routine for your furry friend. Dogs thrive on routine (Lowrey, S., 2023), and having a set schedule for feeding, exercise, and bathroom breaks can greatly reduce the chances of bedwetting. Take your dog out for regular bathroom breaks, especially before bedtime, to ensure their bladder is empty before settling down for the night.

Reinforce Proper Housetraining Techniques

If your dog is experiencing bedwetting, it may be a sign that their housetraining needs reinforcement. Take the time to revisit basic housetraining techniques with your dog. This includes frequent trips outside, positive reinforcement for appropriate elimination, and consistent praise for using the designated bathroom area. Reinforcing these techniques can help your dog regain control over their bladder and prevent accidents during sleep.

Address Anxiety and Stress

Sometimes, dog bedwetting can be a result of anxiety or stress. Dogs can experience anxiety due to various factors such as changes in their environment, separation from their owner, or previous negative experiences. If you suspect anxiety or stress is contributing to your dog's bedwetting, it's important to address these underlying issues. Read “CBD Oil For Dogs: Will It Help Their Anxiety?”. Consider consulting with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist who can provide guidance on how to alleviate your dog's anxiety and promote a calm and relaxed state.

When to Seek Veterinary Help for Dog Bedwetting

Veterinary ultrasound

While many cases of dog bedwetting can be resolved through training and management techniques, there are instances where veterinary intervention may be necessary. 

Sudden Onset of Bedwetting

Dogs should not go without food for extended periods. If you anticipate a situation where your dog may not have access to food for an extended time, consider making arrangements for a trusted caregiver or dog boarding facility.

Excessive Thirst and Urination

If your dog is drinking more water than usual and urinating frequently, it may be a sign of an underlying medical condition. Conditions such as diabetes or kidney disease can lead to increased thirst and urination, which can contribute to bedwetting. If you notice these symptoms alongside bedwetting, it's important to consult with your vet for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Changes in Urine Color or Odor

Changes in urine color or odor can also be indicative of underlying medical issues. If you notice any unusual changes in your dog's urine, such as blood, strong odor, or cloudy appearance, it's important to seek veterinary help. These changes can be a sign of infection, inflammation, or other medical conditions that may require medical intervention.

Preventing Dog Bedwetting in the Future

Cute Dog near Underpad with Wet Spot on Floor

Once you've addressed the underlying causes of your dog's bedwetting and sought veterinary help if necessary, it's important to take preventive measures to minimize the chances of future accidents. Here are some tips to help prevent dog bedwetting in the future:

Maintain a Consistent Routine

Continuing with a consistent routine is essential in preventing future bedwetting incidents. Ensure that your dog has regular bathroom breaks, feeding times, and exercise routines. Consistency provides structure and helps your dog develop good bathroom habits, reducing the chances of accidents during sleep.

Pay Attention to Water Consumption

Monitoring your dog's water consumption can also help prevent bedwetting. While it's important to keep your dog hydrated, excessive water intake can lead to more frequent urination and a higher risk of accidents. Ensure that your dog has access to fresh water throughout the day, but monitor their intake to avoid overconsumption.

Regular Veterinary Check-ups

Regular veterinary check-ups are crucial in maintaining your dog's overall health and preventing potential medical issues that could contribute to bedwetting. Schedule annual or bi-annual visits to your vet for routine examinations and screenings. This can help identify any underlying conditions early on and ensure appropriate treatment and management.

Conclusion and Final Thoughts

Dog bedwetting can be a frustrating issue for pet owners, but with the right approach, it can be effectively managed and resolved. By addressing the underlying causes through training, behavior modification, and seeking veterinary help when necessary, you can help your dog overcome bedwetting and enjoy a peaceful night's sleep. Remember to be patient and consistent in your efforts, and don't hesitate to reach out to professionals for guidance. With time and effort, you and your furry friend can overcome this challenge and have dry, restful nights together.

Dr. Athena Gaffud, DVM

Author: Dr. Athena Gaffud

Dr. Athena is a seasoned, board-certified veterinarian with comprehensive expertise in general practice, veterinary medicine, laboratory operations, and veterinary writing. She is passionate about animals and holistic health. 

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