How Long Can a Dog Hold Its Pee?
This isn’t a question that many people ask when they’re first getting a dog. It doesn’t even seem important.
But when the time comes to leave your dog alone at home, you wonder – how long can I leave him?
Even if you’ve fed him and taken him out for a walk, you still can’t leave your dog alone for a long time.
That’s because it needs to pee and you definitely don’t want your dog to pee inside the house.
You need to know how long your dog can hold its pee so you can get home in time to take him outside.
This is something that’s going to come up sooner or later.
Whether you’re leaving the house to go to work or going on a night out, there will always be an occasion that you have to leave your dog alone at home.
So, how long can a dog hold its pee?
How Long Can a Dog Hold Its Pee: It Depends
The answer is – it depends. It mainly depends on the dog’s age, size, health, diet, stress levels, training, and seasonal temperature changes.
There are also many individual differences between dogs.
Even two healthy dogs of the same size and age that eat the exact same foods won’t be able to hold in their pee for the same amount of time.
On average, an adult dog (1 year old or older) can hold its pee for 6-8 hours. That means they need to pee 3-5 times a day.
Dogs that are over 7 years old, and puppies, need to pee more often and cannot hold their pee for 6-8 hours. Let’s go into a bit more detail based on the factors mentioned above.
So, Can My Adult Dog Hold It in for 8 Hours?
Well, yes and no. Even if a dog can hold its pee for 8 hours, this doesn’t mean that they should hold it for that long.
Making your dog hold his pee for a long time is very dangerous for his health. That’s because bacteria builds up in their bladders if they hold it for too long.
This can lead to urinary tract infection, bladder stones and bladder cancer. Another side-effect of holding for too long is something called incontinence.
This is when your dog can’t completely control his bladder and starts to have accidents.
Young puppies can’t hold their pee for long because their bladders are small and underdeveloped.
On top of that, the muscles that they use to hold their pee aren’t very strong when they’re just a couple of months old.
Many sources say that a puppy can hold its pee for 1 hour when it’s 1 month old. For every month it gets older, it can hold its pee for an hour longer.
So when it’s 2 months old, it can hold its pee for 2 hours, when it’s 3 months old, it can hold its pee for 3 hours, and so on.
When it gets to 8 months old, it can hold its pee for 8 hours - and this is pretty much the maximum.
However, other sources say that this 1 month equals 1 hour rule isn’t very accurate, because every single dog is different.
This is true, and some dogs might have weaker or stronger bladder muscles than other dogs of the same age.
But most people say that the 1 month equals 1 hour rule is still accurate, more or less. So, how long can a dog hold its pee based on its age? Here’s a table to sum it up.
Puppy (1 month old)
Puppy (2 months old)
Puppy (3 months old)
Puppy (4 months old)
Puppy (5 months old)
Puppy (6 months old)
Puppy (7 months old)
Puppy (8 months old)
Puppy (8-12 months old)
Adult dog (1 to 7 years old)
Senior dog (over 7 years old)
In a way, they’re similar to puppies. Senior dogs also often have different health problems, which makes it harder for them to hold their pee.
You should also keep in mind that puppies need to pee during the night too. They might need to go to the toilet 2-3 times a night till they’re about 3 or 4 months old.
There are several things you can do to avoid accidents during the night.
One thing that you can do is set an alarm at night (for example at 3AM) and wake your puppy up and take him to the toilet. That way, your puppy won’t wet himself during the night.
Then you need to push the time back by an hour every week.
For example, if you wake up your puppy at 3AM in the first week, you should wake him up at 4AM in the second week, then at 5AM in the third week, and so on.
By doing this, you will toilet train your puppy and he will be able to hold his pee for longer. Eventually, he will be able to hold his pee until he wakes up.
Another thing that you can do is put your puppy in a box or crate.
A lot of dogs are able to hold their bladder better when they are in a box/crate because they don’t want to pee in the same place that they sleep.
When they need to pee, they’ll start whining and scratching – which is when you need to take them outside. This is also a good way of toilet training your dog.
Just make sure the box is big enough for your dog to be able to turn around, lie down, and stand up. But don’t make the box too big.
If you do, your dog might pee in one of the corners and go back to sleep in a different part of the box.
This one is pretty simple. The bigger the dog, the longer it can hold its pee. That’s because bigger dogs have bigger bladders.
But no dog can hold its pee for long when it’s a puppy.
Even if you have a dog that belongs to the largest dog breeds (like a Great Dane, Mastiff, or Saint Bernard), it will still need frequent toilet breaks when it’s a puppy.
This is another very important factor that decides how long your dog can hold its pee. If your dog eats moisture-rich foods (foods that contain water), then he’ll need to pee more often.
Examples of moisture-rich foods include: canned or raw meat, fruits, and vegetables. That’s because he gets a lot of water from these foods and his bladder quickly fills up.
But this isn’t a bad thing and you shouldn’t avoid these foods, because they’re good for your dog. They help with digestion and keep your pet hydrated.
Your dog can actually get 20% of its daily water intake from moisture-rich foods. Dry foods will make him pee less, but that’s not always a good thing.
If you want a happy and healthy dog, you should give him lots of high-moisture foods.
A number of health problems can affect how long your dog can hold its pee. Some health problems might make your dog pee more often.
Other medical problems can do the opposite – they might make it difficult for your dog to pee.
The health problems that make a dog pee more often include: urinary tract infections, kidney infections, kidney stones, bladder stones, diabetes, bladder cancer, liver disease, hormone problems, and psychological issues.
Kidney stones, infections, and tumors might also make it difficult for your dog to pee. If you notice your dog peeing too much or having difficulty peeing – take him to a vet immediately.
These health problems are medical emergencies. If you don’t take your dog to a vet, he might actually die.
Your vet will perform different tests to understand the cause of your dog’s peeing problem.
Then, he’ll give your dog some medicine, if required, to help him get better. In some serious cases, surgery might be needed.
Mental health is just as important as physical health. Your dog might pee frequently because of a psychological health problem, not a physical one.
For example, he might be stressed or anxious. If your dog is experiencing stress, he might act weird, pee very often, move a lot, bark a lot, or do other things that are not normal.
In these cases, you need to figure out why your dog is stressed. It might be the environment he’s in.
If you take your dog somewhere new or strange, you need to pay attention to how he responds to the new environment. Sometimes, dogs don’t feel safe in a new place.
It might be because of the place or the people in that new place. Either way, if he doesn’t feel comfortable, he will get stressed out.
Once this happens, he’ll start acting differently – and this includes peeing more often. You need to understand why your dog is stressed out and get rid of the cause.
If it’s because of the environment, then you need to take him somewhere else – a place where he feels safe.
Another source of stress might be too much noise. Many dogs are very sensitive to noise and if you live in an area where there’s a lot of noise, your dog might get stressed out.
Noises that can disturb your dog include police sirens, loud music, and honking.
Seasonal Temperature Changes
This one is pretty obvious and understandable. It’s hotter in the summer and colder in the winter. When it’s hot, you need to drink more water to stay hydrated.
The same goes for dogs. They lose more water during the summer (especially when they pant a lot), and need to drink more water.
Since they drink more water, they pee more often. This means they can’t hold their pee for very long in the summer. How long can a dog hold its pee in the winter?
Well, it’s the opposite – they drink less water and pee less often. That means they can hold it for longer in the winter.
A puppy is just like a baby – it needs to be taught where it can pee, and when it should hold its pee.
You have to teach him to only pee outside or on a special pad if you allow him to pee inside the house.
Toilet training your dog is one of the most important things that you have to do as a dog owner. If you don’t train him, he’ll pee everywhere in your house.
But you may be wondering – what does this have to do with how long my dog can hold his pee? Well, when you toilet train your puppy, you help make his bladder muscles stronger.
When those muscles get stronger, he’ll be able to hold his pee in for longer and won’t make a mess in the house.
Putting your puppy in a crate at night is a good example of this. He won’t pee in the same crate that he sleeps in, so he’ll whine and scratch till you take him outside.
But it obviously takes a few minutes to get dressed and take him out. This means that he will have to hold his pee till you take him out.
By holding his pee, his bladder muscles get stronger. The same happens when you train your dog not to pee in the house using other methods.
He holds his pee until you take him outside and his bladder becomes stronger while he’s waiting. This means that training your puppy is an important part of developing his pee-holding muscles.
But you shouldn’t make your dog hold in his pee for too long, regardless if it’s a puppy or an adult dog. This can be very bad for your dog’s health, and will discuss this in more detail later.
My Dog Is Healthy, So Why Can’t It Hold Its Pee?
All of this means that if your dog is completely healthy but is peeing inside the house or can’t hold his pee, then you might not have trained him well.
Luckily, you can train a dog at any age, but it’s much better (and easier) to train him when he’s a puppy.
Having a schedule with your dog is the best thing that you can do. Having specific meal times and exercise times every day will make it easier for both you and your dog.
You’ll be able to plan your day and your dog will know that he has a time and place to pee.
He’ll know that there is a specific time of day when you are going to take him outside for a walk, and he’ll hold his pee until that time comes.
Reasons Why Your Dog Might Be Peeing Too Much
There are many reasons why a dog might be peeing too much. If you are unsure why your dog is peeing too much, it is recommended to go see a professional veterinarian.
Making Their Territory
Firstly, some dogs like to mark their territory. This means that they pee in certain areas of the house to show others that certain parts of the house “belong” to them.
This is actually a very common instinct in animals. Animals in the wild do this as well to keep other animals away from their territory.
If a new person or pet comes into the house, your dog might start peeing in different places to mark his territory.
This behavior has nothing to do with your dog’s ability to hold its pee. He does it on purpose to tell other animals or people to stay away from his territory.
This is actually a very bad habit and you should talk to your vet about this. He might recommend neutering your dog, which will put a stop to this behavior.
But keep in mind that not all dogs mark their territory, and you might not even have to deal with this problem.
Suffering From Anxiety
If the problem doesn’t go away by neutering, your dog might be suffering from anxiety. In this case, you will need to find out what is causing his anxiety to increase, and then find a way of mitigating certain triggers.
Consult your veterinarian if you are worried that your dog is suffering from anxiety, they will be able to provide your dog with some medications and help stop him from peeing too much.
Thirdly, your dog might pee itself from excitement. Not all dogs do this and it’s more common with puppies.
If he hasn’t seen you all day, he might pee a little bit when you get home at the end of the day. They get so excited that they can’t hold their pee in.
It’s not a very common thing, but it does happen. It isn’t a dangerous problem, and you usually don’t need to see a vet for this.
But you will need to train your dog to not pee himself from excitement.
Otherwise, it could become a habit, and if your dog pees himself every time he’s excited – your house will turn into a mess.
Signs That Your Dog Has a Health Problem by Looking at Its Pee
We already talked about how certain health problems can affect a dog’s ability to pee.
These problems might make them pee more often than usual or they might make it difficult for him to pee.
Both cases can turn into medical emergencies, so it’s important to spot the warning signs before it’s too late. If you notice any of the following signs, take your dog to a vet immediately:
- Signs of blood in its pee
- Peeing much more frequently than they usually do
- Trying to pee without anything coming out
- Peeing with difficulty (signs of straining)
- Signs of pain during or after they pee
- A bad smell coming from its pee
- Having frequent accidents in the house even though they are trained
- Pee comes dribbling out or comes out in a weak stream
- Signs of pain when you touch its belly
- Peeing unexpectedly
- Strange color of pee (like red or very dark yellow)
A Quick Summary
So which factors decide how long a dog can hold its pee? The first factor is age. For adult dogs, we know that they can hold it for up to 8 hours.
While 8 hours is the maximum, you should let your dog out frequently so that he can pee. Puppies can only hold it for 1 hour when they are 1 month old.
They can hold their pee for an hour longer for every month that they grow older, with the maximum being 8 hours.
After a dog reaches the age of 7, their bladders get weaker. The amount of time they can hold their pee decreases, and the average for senior dogs is 2-6 hours.
Health is the second most important factor. Sick dogs can’t hold it for as long as healthy dogs.
Many health-related problems might also cause them to have accidents because they are unable to hold their pee.
Training comes next. If you don’t train your dog correctly, his bladder muscles might not become strong enough for him to be able to hold his pee.
Diet also plays a role, and if you feed your dog moisture-rich foods, he’ll need to go to the toilet more often.
Stress is another important factor. If your dog is stressed or anxious, he might start peeing more frequently.
If he’s excited, he might even have accidents around the house.
The size of the dog and the temperature of the environment also have an effect. Bigger dogs can hold their pee for longer because they have bigger bladders.
In the summer (when it’s hot), dogs drink more water and need to pee more often so they can’t hold it for very long. In the winter they drink less and can hold their pee for longer.
Although asking “how long can a dog hold its pee?” is a common question, a more important question is - how long should a dog hold its pee?
Many dogs will try to hold it for as long as they can until you let them pee, but this is very bad for their health. If it happens once or twice – that’s OK.
But if it happens regularly, they might become victims of the medical problems mentioned at the start of this article. They might also become aggressive or anxious.
That’s why you should always take your dog outside at least 3-5 times a day.
You should also take them outside if you notice them pawing at the door, whining, trying to get your attention, or running around in circles for no reason.
These are signs that they need to pee. If you aren’t going to be at home, make sure they have some place that they can pee.
This can include special pads inside the house, or a small door to access the yard (if you have one).