August 2019

Audience: Executive Leadership, Foster Caregivers, Public, Shelter/Rescue Staff & Volunteers, Veterinary Team

Dogs that are having problems peeing often ask to go outside to use the bathroom more than normal. They are usually peeing small, frequent amounts, or they cannot pee at all. They might have pee accidents in the house. Straining to pee, no matter the amount of urine output, is never normal. Peeing should be a comfortable and effortless process, with a steady and adequate amount of urine.

Straining to pee with little or no urine output, or continued straining to pee, is an emergency requiring immediate medical attention. The reason that this is an emergency is because it can be a sign of the urethra being obstructed by a urinary stone, which can cause your dog to become "blocked." If this happens, the pee cannot be emptied from the bladder, making your dog very sick. Your dog could even die, if not treated immediately by a veterinarian.

Signs that Your Dog Needs to See a Veterinarian

  • Frequent attempts to pee, which often produces little or no pee
  • Blood-tinged pee
  • Crying out in pain, or other signs of discomfort, when attempting to pee
  • Becoming progressively more lethargic
  • Excessive licking of the genital area

What You Can Do

  • Watch your dog closely to see whether or not he/she is peeing, and how much.
  • Feed your dog canned food, which has more water in it, or add chicken broth to your dog's food.
  • Encourage your dog to drink more water. You can do this by using water fountains and providing additional bowls of fresh water throughout the house.

Common Causes of Straining to Pee

  • Bladder (urinary) stones
  • Bladder infections
  • Enlarged prostate (common in dogs that are not neutered)
  • Prostate cancer

Treatment of Straining to Pee

  • If your dog has a bladder infection, or an enlarged prostate, a course of antibiotics will be prescribed.
  • Bladder stones usually require surgical removal.
  • If your dog is "blocked," he/she will be sedated and a urinary catheter placed so that the bladder can be emptied, followed by several days of hospitalization.
  • Subcutaneous or intravenous fluid therapy helps flush out the grit in the urinary tract.
  • Medication to relax the urethra may be given.
  • Anti-inflammatories and/or pain medication will make your dog feel more comfortable.
  • A prescription urinary tract diet helps dissolve some kinds of crystals and stones, as well as helping prevent their formation.

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