There’s a universal language among dog owners; a secret code if you will. We all seem to spend a disproportionate amount of time discussing our pet’s pee and poop. We talk about textures, colors, frequency, and scent. That’s all information that shouldn’t be volunteered in polite society, but we can’t seem to help ourselves.
In our defense, this isn’t necessarily just idle chitchat. Pooch parents can tell a great deal about the state of their dog’s health by their lavatorial functions, as our insights into what to do when a dog has diarrhea but is acting normally will be able to testify.
It’s not just a number two that tells us all about a dog’s condition either, though – an educated pee-watcher will also be able to gain a variety of insights every time your dog empties their bladder. This guide will talk you through the many and varied ways in which your dog’s pee can tell you how they’re feeling.
Table of Contents:
- What Color Should My Dog’s Pee Be?
- How Do You Know if Your Dog Has a Bladder Infection?
- My Dog’s Urine is Dark Yellow, and They’re Not Eating or Drinking
- My Dog is Leaking Strong Smelling Urine
- My Dog Won’t Pee at All
What Color Should My Dog’s Pee Be?
The first question that you should perhaps be asking is what color a healthy dog’s pee would be. The optimum shade of urine for humans is a pale straw or translucent yellow, and the same goes for canines.
If your dog is emptying their bladder in this shade, you have nothing to worry about. Keep up whatever lifestyle your dog is living – it’s working out well for them.
How about the many and varied other shades that could leave your dog’s bladder, though? We can tell a lot about a dog by the color of their water, and there are many visible signs that can be picked up by reviewing the shade.
- Clear and Odorless Dog Urine means that your dog has been drinking too much water, and they are at the risk of overhydrating. Alternatively, it could mean that your pooch is experiencing problems with his or her kidneys, and are struggling to concentrate their pee. Try limiting your pet’s water intake in these instances (half-filling a bowl and topping it up regularly may help with this), and if nothing changes, capture a water sample and take it to your vet for review.
- Bright Yellow Dog Urine or Very Dark Yellow Dog Urine suggests the opposite problem – pee of this shade is a warning sign that your dog is close to dehydration. Keep an eye on whether your dog is drinking sufficiently, and if that doesn’t seem to be the problem, make an appointment with the vet.
- Red or Pink Dog Urine, suggesting that your dog has blood in their pee, will also need tests. At best, it will be a urinary tract infection that can be treated by a course of antibiotics prescribed by your vet, but it could be something more alarming that requires more attention – including bruising, inflammation or blood clots. Your dog could also be suffering from an infection inflicted upon them by a tick, flea or another parasite. Either way, seek the advice of a professional and purchase any appropriate medications if your spot blood in your dog’s pee.
- Green Dog Urine is a warning sign that you need to make an appointment with a vet. If your pet’s pee is green, it’s possible that they are having trouble with their kidneys. It may just be a result of munching on too much wild grass, but there is no way that you’ll want to take a chance.
- Orange Dog Urine is a severe situation and suggests that you should make an appointment with a vet ASAP. Pee of this color warns of a wide array of potential internal organ failures, and many further tests will have to be run.
- Brown Dog Urine is a genuine 911 – get your dog to the vet straight away, do not pass Go and do not collect $200. Brown urine suggests that your dog has internal bleeding or is suffering from a toxic reaction to something they have ingested.
- Milky Dog Urine also suggests that your dog is struggling with an infection of some kind. It could be a UTI, or it may be a health problem that stems from a male dog’s prostate and bladder stones. Can you guess what advice we’re going to offer in the event of milky dog pee? That’s right – speak to a vet and offer a sample for further examination.
Are you getting the picture as to just how important dog urine can be? It may not be anybody’s favorite activity to inspect their pet’s pee, and there’s every chance that Fido gives you a bashful look while doing his business as though saying, “don’t watch me doing this” but knowing the signs can be vital to keeping your dog happy and healthy.
My Dog’s Pee Smells Funny
If your dog’s urine is dark yellow and smells strong, this is potentially another sign of a UTI. Smells are subjective, so you’ll have to be somewhat vigilant about anything that’s out of the ordinary. Usually, the smell will be very sour, and fairly impossible to ignore.
It’s not just UTIs, though. Some of the other health concerns associated with strongly scented urine are:
- Canine Diabetes
- Kidney Disease
Thankfully, there are other explanations for strong-smelling urine outside of ill health. A bitch that is about to come into heat will leave very pungent pee as a symbol for male dogs that they are in season (let’s face it, men have never been good at reading subtle signals from women), while an older dog that is starting to struggle with incontinence may also have stronger smelling urine. If in doubt, speak to a professional.
My Dog is Peeing Blood but Acting Normal
If your dog doesn’t seem perturbed by the blood in their urine (and the color isn’t too dark, as per our guidance above), there is no need to fly into an immediate panic. In fact, it’s always advisable to stay calm in the face of a worrying sign! However, that doesn’t mean that you should ignore the symptom and hope it rights itself.
The first thing that you should so when discovering blood in your dog’s pee is to call your vet and make an appointment – you won’t want to take any chances. If possible, take a sample of your dog’s urine before you go in too. The chances are your vet will also seek their sample to run tests on, but if you can convince your pooch to pee into a Tupperware container before you get there it could save some valuable time! To be on the safe side, don’t let your dog pee before heading to the vet for their appointment or you could be spending a great deal of time in the waiting room with an anxious pooch on your hands.
Blood in the urine doesn’t necessarily mean a terrible fate has befallen your dog, but it shouldn’t be ignored. It could be anything from a minor ailment that can be treated with oral antibiotics to a significant health scare that requires surgery. No matter what the reason is, the earlier your dog is seen as, the more likely they are to make a full recovery.
How Do You Know if Your Dog Has a Bladder Infection?
We have mentioned UTIs many times throughout this article, and they can be very common explanations for strange behavior or unsavory looking or smelling urine in dogs. Bitches aged seven years or over are typically most likely to contract a UTI, and there are many signs and symptoms that you can look out for:
- Your dog is peeing more than usual.
- Your dog is drinking more than usual (there could be another reason for this, though – if you’re asking why is my dog so thirsty all of a sudden, investigate other potential explanations.)
- Your dog is struggling to hold their bladder (though there could be other, psychological reasons for peeing in the house, as our guide to why your dog is peeing on the bed will explain.)
- Your dog is struggling to pee, either dribbling out smaller strains than usual or displaying pain and discomfort.
- Your dog is uncharacteristically lethargic and doesn’t show any interest in food.
- Your dog is continually licking their private parts.
- Your dog has traces of blood in their urine, or their pee has a strong, unpleasant smell, as we have previously discussed.
If you have any reason to suspect that your dog has a UTI, make an appointment with your vet. The conditions can be cured with a simple course of oral antibiotics (never use human medication unless you have discussed it with your vet first), but your pet will be in a great deal of pain and discomfort until the problem is resolved.
Also, be aware that, just like in humans, treating a UTI in a dog will only work on that occasion. If your pooch if prone to developing these infections, they may return at a later date, and you’ll have to restart the process if you spot the symptoms again.
What Causes Bladder Infections in Dogs?
A UTI in a dog is a result of bacteria making its way into a canine body, which is why a vet will take a urine sample to investigate further.
These bacteria are usually absorbed by your dog through their nose when they’re sniffing away at animal droppings and other unsavory stuff from the floor, so to minimize the risk of infection, liberally use the, “leave it!” command while out on walks! However, dogs with chronic health conditions (like cancer or Cushing’s disease) may also find themselves at risk of developing a UTI without even leaving the house.
Overweight dogs with flaps of skin are also more likely to attract bacteria, so always keep an eye on your pet’s weight and ensure they are getting enough exercise.
How to Treat Bladder Infections in Dogs
As we have explained, a UTI can usually be easily treated by a vet using antibiotics, provided it’s caught early enough, and your dog is otherwise in good health.
Once you have a prescription, follow these tips to keep your pet as comfortable as possible while they recover:
- Ensure your dog is drinking water regularly.
- Serve as much wet food as you can without unsettling your dog’s stomach, as this will provide extra hydration.
- Stick to the medication schedule laid out by your vet, making sure your dog is swallowing their pills. Don’t stop the course early just because your dog seems to be better, either – that could allow the infection to return.
- Take your dog out for regular comfort breaks, as holding in urine will aggravate the infection.
- Be kind and patient! Your dog will be uncomfortable, and there may be some uncharacteristic accidents while they recover.
Your dog should start to improve drastically within 48 hours. If that’s not the case, make a follow-up appointment with your vet as they may need to run further tests.
My Dog’s Urine is Dark Yellow, and They’re Not Eating or Drinking
As we have previously established, dark yellow urine suggests that your dog is dehydrated – and if they’re also not eating and drinking, that’s a worrying sign.
If this behavior has continued for over 24 hours, make an appointment with the vet. If they also have diarrhea and are vomiting, check our guide as to what to do if your dog can’t keep food or water down for intermediate advice and first aid.
Some of the reasons why your dog could be reluctant to eat or drink include:
- Your dog has a sore throat.
- Your dog has a gastric or stomach problem.
- Your dog has pulled a muscle in their chest or stomach.
- Your dog has tooth or gum disease or is in some other kind of oral distress.
- Your dog is anxious or stressed.
- Your dog is unwell and is trying to tell you something.
Do whatever you can to make your dog comfortable and encourage them to get stuck into their dinner bowl again, and more importantly to take a drink. While a dog can last around three days without food, not drinking for 24 hours could be game over so this is something to take very seriously. Don’t procrastinate in calling the vet!
How Can I Get My Dog to Drink More Water?
You’ve heard the old saying, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink,” but how about a dog? There are a handful of ways that you can convince your pet to sip on clear fluids and purge their urine.
- Exercise your dog, so they work up a thirst.
- Provide ice cubes to suck on instead of a bowl of water to lap at.
- Try a different water bowl – and make sure that your dog isn’t allergic to the material their current bowl is made from.
- Drop some dog-friendly fruit (small berries are ideal) into their water bowl.
- Add water or something else moist to your dog’s kibble.
- Switch out your dog’s water for another liquid with a more tempting scent or taste, such as chicken broth or even Gatorade.
- If all else fails, pick up a syringe from your vet and squirt water directly into your dog’s mouth.
If you none of these techniques work, make an urgent appointment with a specialist. A dog will struggle without water after a short period of time. You can also find further advice in our guide to what you must do if your dog is dehydrated.
My Dog is Leaking Strong Smelling Urine
Involuntary leaking of foul-smelling pee is usually a sign of a bladder infection, but sometimes it’s unfortunately just a matter of old age. Canine incontinence is a common complaint in older hounds, or it may be a matter of sickness in your dog.
What are the Causes of Canine Incontinence?
As we have just explained, canine incontinence can sadly be an inevitable part of old age as your dog’s muscles begin to weaken – including those around their bladder. It’s always advisable to keep some pads around the house, just in case your senior dog starts to struggle to make it outside in time.
Other potential causes of canine incontinence in an otherwise seemingly healthy dog include:
- Spinal or muscular problems (this is particularly likely if your dog can’t jump with their back legs.)
- A health problem that leads to excessive thirst (Cushing’s disease, canine diabetes, etc.)
- Canine hernias.
- A bitch that has been spayed may find her bladder muscles weakened by the experience. This is a condition known as spay incontinence.
- Congenital disabilities (if your puppy continues to struggle with incontinence despite being otherwise housetrained, they may have a problem with their body.)
- Imbalanced hormones.
- Our old friend, UTIs.
If you’re worried about your dog’s bladder, it may not hurt to make an appointment with a vet. There are many medications available to pets struggling to hold their water.
How Can I Treat My Incontinent Dog?
Firstly, by acting with kindness. Never scold your dog for losing control of their bladder; they’re not doing it on purpose, and will more than likely be mortified about their accident. Treating your dog harshly in such circumstances will probably leave them feeling that any kind peeing is bad. We’ll discuss that in greater detail in a moment.
In the meantime, there are medications available for dogs that are struggling with their bladder – either over the counter from a pet store or by prescription from a vet if necessary. Ensure that your dog gets plenty of short walks so they have the chance to eliminate, and consider dog diapers if you have a long journey ahead of you and won’t be able to make frequent pit stops. Don’t restrict your dog’s access to water unless your vet explicitly tells you to do to so, as doing so runs the risk of making your pet even more poorly.
My Dog Won’t Pee at All
If your pooch is reluctant to pee, there could be many reasons for this:
- Your dog has a UTI or other infection, and peeing hurts.
- Bladder stones or a similar obstruction are blocking your dog’s urinary tract.
- Your dog has been scolded for having an accident in the house and thinks that all elimination is bad behavior that will get them in trouble.
- Your dog is picking up the scent of another dog’s urine. Dogs pee on top of one another to denote that they’re in a pack, and warn potential rivals that they have strength in numbers. If your dog smells another pack’s urine, they will steer clear.
If your dog is showing reluctance to empty their bladder and you’re growing concerned you should make an appointment with a vet; if they wait too long, they could suffer kidney damage through toxins failing to leave the body.
However, you could also try picking up a spray that will attract urination from a pet store. These work in a similar way to a puppy pad in that they release a pheromone that encourages a dog to pee, and thus they may inspire your pooch to let go.
Urine is a critical part of a dog’s life, and we can sometimes be guilty of disregarding its importance. Pee is how dogs communicate with each other, it’s how they mark their territory, and as we now know, it’s how they tell us if they are feeling under the weather.
Don’t just think of dog pee as a bodily function that you need to tolerate on behalf of your pooch, and don’t feel sad if you look at the rain outside and bemoan the fact that it’s time for walkies. Dog pee can be the difference between a healthy, happy pooch and a sickly canine, so learn to love those insistent stops at lampposts and fire hydrants. Every one of them is hugely important in their own way.