Why do Dogs Urinate in the House?

Is there a medical reason that a dog would suddenly start peeing in the house? She's a four-year old German Shepherd who has never had...


Is there a medical reason that a dog would suddenly start peeing in the house? She’s a four-year old German Shepherd who has never had an “accident” in the house and is very well behaved. Lately, I’ve noticed that every once-in-a-while, she’ll have peed, and sometimes won’t even know she has, as she’ll stay in that same spot. This happens even when we’re home and she has a chance to go outside, and when there is no commotion that would stress her out.

Thank you!

San Rafael, CA

About half of the cat questions I receive boil down to “why is my cat urinating inappropriately in the house?” This phenomenon is a long standing problem for me. Cat people write very few questions to the Vet Blog. When I finally do come across a feline-oriented question, it has a 50-50 chance of being the question above (which, by the way, I have answered many times since I started writing this blog).

Although dog owners don’t ask this question as routinely as cat people, some version of the question shows up in my inbox at least five times a month. There is a common secondary feature to the dog questions, too. Dog owners always point out that their dog “doesn’t seem to realize that she’s urinating in the house.”

The answer, Marty, is that there is a common medical condition that causes four-year-old female dogs display the symptoms you have described. It is called hormone responsive urinary incontinence. It is treatable with a medication called PPA. It is a common problem. So common, in fact, that I wrote web pages dedicated to the problem and its treatment. Click the links and read away!

There are other causes of canine house soiling. Read all about them here.

The long and short of it is that your dog should be tested for a variety of diseases. However, if she is like most dogs, the condition will be treatable.

Special note for cat people: for information on feline house soiling, click here.

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