Frequent Urination in Dogs: Infection or Something More Serious?

Frequent Urination in Dogs
Wyatt Robinson
Written by Wyatt Robinson

Taking your dog out for a trip to the bathroom is a regularly scheduled part of your day. Sometimes twice or even three times, depending on the kinds of hours you keep and how active your dog is. However, there are instances when your dog could be needing to do his business more than usual, and that can be a cause for concern.

If you have noticed an increase in the number of times your dog needs to go outside, then it’s a matter that should be raised with your vet. There are several different causes for frequent urination in dogs; some of them are treatable, while others require more aggressive means of treatment.


Polyuria is the medical term for abnormally high urine production. Polyuria tends to go hand in hand with polydipsia, which is an increased level of thirst in dogs. Because urination draws water out of the dog’s system, too much urination can leave them feeling dehydrated, and drinking more water is required to keep these hydration levels balanced. Both conditions can be brought on by a number of factors, such as congenital abnormalities and the causes of renal failure.

Such congenital conditions include diabetes, dysfunction of the adrenal glands in producing steroid, and some psychological disorders. «Habit drinking» can lead to Polyuria and polydipsia, and can be misunderstood as diabetes. Kidney diseases, which can be congenital or caused by tumors, can also lead to these conditions, as the kidneys are responsible for the secretion of urea.

Frequent Urination in Dogs

External factors could be responsible for Polyuria as well. Dogs with low protein diets can lead to the malfunction of the kidneys, which then produces too much urea that needs to be excreted from the body. Certain medications that are known to remove excess liquid from the body, typically known as diuretics, can also cause excessive urination in dogs. Lastly, there is age. As a dog gets older, there is an increased chance of hormone levels and organ function to decrease; this occurs naturally, and may lead to increased thirst and urination.

In diagnosing the problem, your vet is likely to keep your dog for a period of time for observation. The levels of thirst and urination will be measured and compared to what normal fluid levels and urination should be. A series of standard tests will also be conducted to ensure that the cause of increased thirst and urination are not the result of a more serious medical problem.

Your vet will conduct a blood count, a urinalysis, X-raying the renal system for any tumors or abnormal conditions, and an examination of the reproductive organs to determine hormone levels.

Treatment for these conditions typically consists of outpatient procedures. If there is renal or hepatic failure, then it is likely that your dog will be undergoing surgery or aggressive treatment procedures in order to reverse any damage that may have already been caused.

Otherwise, if these have been ruled out, then there is very little that can be done, other than water limitation. Take the steps to ensure that your dog is sufficiently hydrated throughout the day. Your vet may prescribe that electrolytes be added in order to quell his desire to continuously drink. Continued observation is required in order to ensure that the condition doesn’t worsen or complications don’t develop.

Bladder infection

A bladder infection can be quite painful for a dog, and makes it quite difficult for him to contain his urine. Also called bacterial cystitis, your dog may experience excessive urination, straining during the process of urination, or even the presence of blood in the urine. If you do notice any of the latter two symptoms, you should contact your vet immediately. A urinalysis will be taken in order to determine if a bladder infection exists. To know more about dog bladder infection, check out our article on the topic.

If a bladder infection is found to be present, your vet will likely prescribe an oral antibiotic to both clear the infection and prevent it from progressing to a kidney infection. After a period of two to three weeks, another urinalysis will be done to see if the infection has been eliminated. Urinary acidifiers can also be added to your dog’s diet in order to prevent the bacteria from sticking to the bladder wall. Adding blackberry or cranberry supplements/tablets to your dog’s food can help with this to promote healthy bladder function.

Bladder stones

Bladder stones are also known for causing a lot of pain and can make it difficult for your dog to completely drain his bladder. This can lead to the need of more bathroom breaks. There may also be straining to urinate, as well as the presence of blood in the urine. They form from the buildup of minerals that are present within the urine, and gather together to form tiny crystals.

The minerals are typically excreted harmlessly through urine, so the growth of bladder stones can be the result of certain genetic dispositions, the concentration of minerals that are present in the blood, or whether there is the presence of a bacterial infection. Bladder stones are detected through the palpitation of the abdomen area or by X-Ray. Our piece on how to know if your dog has bladder stones is a good read.

Canine urinary

Depending on their cause and the size, there are different treatment options for bladder stones. Surgery is the easiest way to get rid of the stones, but is very invasive. The removed stones are sent for analysis after the surgery in order to determine their cause and develop and effective treatment procedure in order to prevent them from returning in the future. Urohydropropulsion is another option that doesn’t involve invasive surgery. A catheter is inserted and saline solution is used to fill the bladder. It’s then compressed to get the bladder stones out.

This procedure is only used when the stones are very small. In the event that a bladder stone is caught in the urethra, then surgery is required immediately, as damage can quickly occur to the kidneys, and may even lead to death. Ultrasonic waves can be used to break up the bladder stones so that the smaller pieces pass through more quickly.

In preventing bladder stones, diet alteration can be recommended, especially for those stones that are made of struvite or ammonium urate. Reducing the amount of protein in your dog’s diet and adding urinary acidifiers reduce the amount of urea being produced and also lowers the pH of urine so that the stones won’t be produced. It does take some time for these changes to start having an effect on your dog’s urine, so patience should be exercised before the condition has been treated.

Kidney problems

One of the most important signs you can look for as an indication of kidney problems is the pale color of your dog’s urine. This could be the result of hormonal imbalances, tumors, or renal failure.

In addition to frequent urination, your dog may also experience decreased appetite, vomiting, lethargy and a hunched over posture. Under the examination of your vet, further signs may include pale gums, enlarged kidneys through palpitation, ulcers in the mouth, and bad breath. Further blood tests and urinalysis can be done to see the cause of the kidney problems, as well as X-raying the kidneys to see how enlarged they are. For ways how to manage renal failure in your dog, see our earlier article tackling this condition.

Kidney disease

Treatment of acute kidney problems includes rehydration as well as reduced protein in the diet. This limits the amount of work that the kidneys have to do, allowing them to repair themselves so that they can return to functioning order. If your dog is still experiencing some kind of nausea during treatment, then it’s important that you reduce the size of the meals offered and feed more frequently.

Dialysis is another option that can be used, especially for those dogs who haven’t responded to other forms of treatment, kidney problems are a result of toxins, or to repair the kidneys after an emergency surgery that has taken place. In the most severe cases, kidney transplant surgeries are available for dogs.

Treatment for chronic kidney problems is more severe, as the condition causes lesions to appear on the kidneys. Signs of a chronic kidney condition include weight loss, polydipsia and polyuria, poor coat, selective appetite and lethargy. Fluid therapy is always paramount in order to prevent dehydration from occurring. Potassium and electrolytes can be added to their water in order to maintain energy levels.

Dietary changes are also necessary in order to reduce the stress on the kidneys and promote healthy repair. The salt content of the food should also be increased, and fatty acids can help with kidney function.

Liver problems

The liver is responsible for filtering wastes out of the blood, which includes urea and urine. A malfunctioning liver can lead to excessive drinking and urination, depending on the problem that is occurring. Inflammation of the liver or a liver shunt (where blood flows around the organ instead of through it) are the two main causes of increased drinking and urination. Other symptoms can include lack of appetite, lethargy, diarrhea and vomiting.

Diet and supplement for liver problems

If the underlying cause of the condition is eliminated, the liver will regenerate on its own and continue to function as normal. Medications can be used to help, but may have some undesirable side effects.

Prostate problems

Prostate problems are typically found in male dogs. Because of the location of the prostate, any conditions that may arise can affect the bladder and urethra. The prostate could be enlarged, there could be cancerous tumors, or there could be a bacterial infection that is causing inflammation. Dogs with prostate problems typically have a stiff hind gait, as they’re trying to eliminate any pressure on the gland that may result in pain.

Treatment for such conditions can be lengthy and expensive, and most cases recommend that the dog be neutered. This eliminates the production of testosterone, which will cause the gland to shrink, making the condition much easier to treat. Many of the prostate problems that a dog can suffer from is greatly minimized if the dog is neutered within the first year of life.

Hormonal imbalances

Frequent urination can occur in female dogs who have been recently spayed. This is known as «spay incontinence.» This is the result of decreased estrogen within the dog’s body, which is used to control the urethra muscles. This decrease may lead to accidents occurring in the home, as the dog is no longer able to control the muscles that are responsible. Estrogen therapy can be used to strengthen the muscles, but if this fails, collagen or bulking injections around the urethral sphincter and urethral tacking surgeries can help to treat the condition.

These methods have proven to be successful, but there is no lifelong guarantee of continence, and so a variety of surgical and medication treatments can be used in order to create the best outcome.


If your dog is drinking more frequently, it could be the result of diabetes. A diabetic dog tends to drink a lot more water and still has a good appetite, but continues to lose weight.

The actual cause of diabetes is still unknown, but conditions like obesity, genetics, specific medications, pancreatitis, and certain autoimmune diseases do contribute to the onset of diabetes. Blood work and urinalysis conducted by your vet will help to diagnose the disease so that a treatment plan can be developed.

Symptoms of diabetes in dogs infographic

Treatment is dependent on how serious the symptoms are, and can range from receiving care in the hospital to simply adding more fibers to a dog’s diet. Most cases of diabetes result in insulin injections that your vet will show you how to administer. Conducting glucose tests on your dog will also become a regular part of your daily schedule, and can also be taught to you by your vet.

Cushing’s disease

Cushing’s disease is a condition that mostly affects older dogs, and can be the result of a benign tumor on the pituitary gland, which controls the secretion of hormones in the body. An enlargement of the pituitary gland can also occur, resulting in the same symptoms, which can include increased thirst and urination, pot-bellied abdomen, fat pads on the neck and shoulders, loss of hair, lack of energy, muscle weakness, bruising easily, thin skin, and hard white scaly patches on the skin.

Blood and urine samples will be taken for examination in order to determine the levels of cortisone in your dog. X-Rays can also be done to reveal the presence of any adrenal tumors, and surgery can be performed to remove them. Medications can also be prescribed, and your dog should be closely monitored to witness any adverse reactions. Treatment of this condition will continue for the life of your pet, and there will also be continuous follow-ups with your vet. For treatment of Cushing’s disease, see our piece on the this topic.


If you do notice that your female dog is urinating more frequently outside, there is a possibility that your dog is pregnant. As the fetuses within her abdomen grow, it makes the bladder much smaller. This means that it can only hold so much urine, and more trips to outside are necessary. See our piece on  how to deal with dog pregnancy to give you more insight.

Dog pregnancy timeline

There is the alternative that your female dog is in heat. The estrous cycle and fluctuating hormone levels can increase urination in your dog. There is no cause for concern, unless you have never dealt with a pregnant dog before. Both causes can be eliminated if you spray your dog from a young age.

Territory marking

Especially in male dogs, territory marking is quite natural, and there is no need for concern with your vet. Around your yard or on walks, dogs may sprinkle their urine around on certain markers that indicate that this territory is theirs. This can become more frequent if there is the presence of other animals in the yard who may be trying to cover up your dog’s scent. This is a natural part of a dog’s behavior.

There is no treatment or diagnosis necessary to curtail this behavior.

Territory marking

It’s important to make note of any changes that occur when it comes to how much water your dog drinks and how frequently he needs to go to the bathroom. Outside of illness, it could be the simple result of the hot temperatures outside, a sudden change in diet, or increased exercise.

If you are worried about the state of your dog’s health, you can always collect a urine sample to take to your vet for it to be tested. Ensure that the sample is as fresh as possible; getting one right before a trip to the vet is best.

This can save you time and money on having the vet do it for you. You can collect a urine sample by using a simple aluminum pie plate or a glass container with a seal, depending on whether your dog is female or male.

Rubber gloves should be worn in order to prevent any urine from getting on yourself, and the contained should be sealed well before taking it to your vet’s office. No matter the cause of your dog’s frequent urination, it’s important that you are consistent with the treatment your vet has set for you.

Illnesses or conditions that affect the bladder or kidneys are difficult to treat if there is a lapse in treatment, as bacteria can become resistant. You will have to bear with your dog still needing to go out more frequently than normal until the conditions have been taken care of, so exercise patience until then.

About the author
Wyatt Robinson
Wyatt Robinson

Wyatt Robinson had a great 25-years career as a veterinarian in United Kingdom. He used to be a member of British Veterinary Association and worked in 3 pet hospitals in London and Manchester. He is shining when he sees his pets healthy and full of energy and it is his duty to help other dog owners to keep their best friends full of life.