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Why Does My Dog Pee In Their Sleep?

Dog sleeping in a red bed next to a nightstand

Reviewed by: Dr. Robert Menardi, DVM

Dogs bring so much joy into our lives, but as pet parents, we are also responsible for their well-being, which includes understanding their health concerns. One such issue that can perplex many dog parents is why their dog may urinate in their sleep. 

While it can be distressing to witness, it’s important to know that this is not uncommon, and there could be multiple reasons behind it. 

In this article, we will explore potential causes for a dog peeing in their sleep, what steps to take if you observe this behavior, and how to support your pet during this time.

What Are Normal Dog Urine Patterns?

Before delving into the reasons behind a dog urinating in its sleep, it’s essential to understand their typical urination habits. Generally, a healthy adult dog urinates between three to five times a day, depending on their water intake, diet, and level of physical activity. 

However, when a dog begins to urinate during their sleep, it could signal a deviation from their normal routine and possibly indicate an underlying health issue. Sleep urination, or urinary incontinence, can occur in any dog regardless of their age or breed. 

It’s characterized by involuntary leakage of urine during rest or sleep. While it may be more common in older dogs due to age-related changes, it’s not exclusive to them. If you notice your dog leaving wet spots where they sleep or appearing wet or soiled around their hindquarters, they could be experiencing urinary incontinence.

Understanding the potential causes of urinary incontinence can help you address the issue more effectively and provide the necessary care and support for your furry friend. In the next section, we delve into these potential causes and how they could influence your dog’s urinary habits.

What Are the Potential Causes of a Dog Peeing in Their Sleep?

If you’ve noticed your dog urinating during sleep, it’s natural to wonder why. Several factors could contribute to this condition, and it’s essential to approach each with an understanding heart. 

Below, we discuss some of the potential causes:

Aging and Incontinence

As dogs grow older, their bodily functions, including bladder control, may naturally start to decline. Aged dogs, particularly those beyond their middle years, can experience weakened bladder muscles, resulting in less control over their urination habits. 

This weakening can lead to incontinence, especially during times of relaxation or sleep when the body is entirely at rest. If your older dog is having issues with incontinence, it’s essential not to blame or punish them. This is a natural part of aging for some dogs and something they can’t control.

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

Urinary tract infections are a common health issue in dogs that can lead to various symptoms, including frequent urination or loss of bladder control. UTIs occur when bacteria enter the dog’s urinary tract, leading to an infection. In dogs with a UTI, you may notice more frequent urination, difficulty in urinating, or signs of discomfort while urinating. 

In some cases, UTIs can cause dogs to lose control over their bladder entirely, leading to accidents even during sleep. UTIs can be effectively treated with antibiotics, so it’s important to seek veterinary attention if you suspect a UTI in your dog.

Hormonal Imbalance

Another common cause of dogs urinating during sleep is a hormonal imbalance. Spayed female dogs, in particular, are susceptible to a condition known as hormone-responsive incontinence. After spaying, the levels of estrogen, a hormone that helps control the muscles of the bladder, decrease. 

This hormonal change can sometimes lead to a loss of bladder control, particularly when the dog is relaxed or asleep. If a hormonal imbalance is behind your dog’s incontinence, your vet might recommend hormone therapy or certain medications to help manage the condition.

Other Medical Conditions

Other underlying health conditions can also lead to a dog urinating in their sleep. Conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, bladder stones, or even neurological issues can all affect a dog’s ability to control their bladder. 

For instance, diabetes can cause an increase in the volume of urine a dog produces, while conditions like kidney disease or bladder stones can interfere with a dog’s ability to hold their urine. 

If your dog suddenly starts urinating in their sleep, especially if accompanied by other symptoms such as increased thirst, changes in appetite, or signs of discomfort, it’s crucial to consult a vet as soon as possible. These could be signs of a more serious underlying condition that requires immediate attention.

When Should I Consult a Veterinarian?

While the occasional accident shouldn’t be cause for concern, recurrent incidents of your dog urinating in their sleep should prompt a visit to the vet. Signs such as increased frequency of accidents, visible discomfort while urinating, changes in urine color, or increased thirst could all warrant a checkup.

Veterinarians play an essential role in diagnosing the cause of sleep urination. They may conduct a series of tests, including a urinalysis, blood tests, ultrasound, or X-rays, to identify the underlying cause.

Once a cause is determined, your vet can suggest an appropriate treatment plan, which could range from medications to manage UTIs, hormone therapy for hormonal imbalances, dietary changes, or other necessary interventions. Remember, seeking professional advice is the best course of action when faced with health concerns related to your pet.

How Do I Help My Dog With Incontinence?

If your dog is experiencing incontinence, there are practical ways you can support them at home. Remember, patience and understanding are key during this time.

Regular Bathroom Breaks

Increasing the frequency of bathroom breaks can help manage incontinence. This can ensure the bladder is regularly emptied, reducing the chance of accidents during sleep.

Proper Hydration

Ensure your dog is properly hydrated. While it may seem counterintuitive, regular water intake is essential for maintaining a healthy urinary system. Dehydration can lead to urinary tract issues, which might exacerbate incontinence.

Using Doggie Diapers

For dogs struggling with regular incontinence, doggie diapers or pee pads can help manage the issue, especially during the night. This can make your dog more comfortable and reduce cleanup for you.

Your dog might be feeling anxious or embarrassed about their situation. Providing comfort and reassurance will help them know they’re safe and loved, even during this challenging time.

Can CBD Support My Dog’s Well-Being?

Given the increasing interest in the potential benefits of CBD and CBDA for pet health, some pet parents might wonder if these compounds could help manage incontinence in dogs. It’s important to remember that every dog is unique, and what works for one might not work for another.

ElleVet’s science-first approach to pet health has led to the development of a range of CBD and CBDA products that are safe, effective, and backed by scientific research. While these products are not designed to treat medical conditions such as incontinence, some pet parents have found them beneficial in supporting their pet’s overall well-being. However, before integrating any new supplement into your pet’s diet, it’s essential to consult your vet.

Be the Best Pet Parent

Dealing with a dog that pees in their sleep can be stressful for any pet parent. However, patience, understanding, and a commitment to finding a solution are key to helping your beloved companion navigate this issue. Various factors can contribute to your dog’s incontinence, from age-related changes and UTIs to hormonal imbalances and other underlying health conditions.

Regular vet check-ups and prompt attention to changes in your dog’s behavior or health are crucial in the early detection and effective management of any health issue. Through care, love, and the right interventions, you can support your dog and help improve their quality of life.

At ElleVet, our science-first approach is dedicated to providing you with the knowledge you need to better understand your pet’s health. We hope this article has been informative and useful in helping you understand why your dog may be urinating in their sleep and what you can do to support them. Remember, your dog relies on you for their well-being, so educating yourself on these matters is a step towards happier and healthier companionship with your pet.

Sources: 

Urinary Incontinence in the Dog | UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine

Urinary tract infection (UTI) – Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic

A Peek at Endocrinology: Canine Hormone Problems | Animal Medical Hospital 

Diabetes in Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, & Treatment | AKC

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