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Urine Marking in Dogs

 

ASPCA logoSome dogs scent mark by urinating small amounts on vertical surfaces, usually while raising a leg. Both female and male dogs can urine mark. Dogs who urine mark might do so in a number of situations, including while on walks, when in their own homes and yards, and during visits to other locations. A dog must be at least three months of age to urine mark.

Why Do Dogs Urine Mark?

Reproductively Intact Dog

Dogs who are reproductively intact (unspayed females and unneutered males) are more likely to urine mark than spayed or neutered dogs. In unspayed females, urine marking usually happens more frequently just before and while they’re in heat.

Something New in the Environment

Some dogs urine mark when they encounter nonresident dogs in their environments or smell urine left in their environments by other dogs. A dog’s environment may encompass his home, his yard, the route he usually takes when on walks, friends’ homes he regularly visits, and parks or other locations he frequents.

Social Triggers

Exciting social situations can trigger urine marking. Some male dogs only urine mark when in the presence of female dogs (especially if they’re in heat), and some urine mark only when interacting with other male dogs. Some dogs only urine mark when visiting homes where other dogs have urine marked before. Other dogs only urine mark when they become highly aroused and overstimulated in social situations. These dogs often mark nearby objects, people or other dogs.

Anxiety

Some dogs urine mark when they experience anxiety. Anxious dogs might deposit greater amounts of urine than dogs marking for other reasons. They might also urine mark on spots that aren’t vertical surfaces. A number of events can cause anxiety and trigger urine marking, including the presence of new objects, furniture or luggage in a dog’s environment, the departure of a resident from a dog’s home, a new person moving into the home, and conflict between a dog and people or other animals in the home.

Medical Causes to Rule Out

Spay/Urinary Incontinence

Some dogs’ house soiling is caused by incontinence, a medical condition in which a dog “leaks” or completely voids the bladder. Dogs with incontinence problems usually seem unaware that they’ve soiled. Sometimes they void urine while asleep.

Urinary Tract Infection

A urinary tract infection (UTI) can cause a dog to void small amounts of urine frequently. In addition, a dog who has a UTI might engage in excessive licking of his genitalia.

Miscellaneous Medical Causes

Other medical reasons for house soiling are abnormalities of the genitalia that cause incontinence, diseases that cause frequent urination, and medications that cause frequent urination. These and all other medical causes should be ruled out before evaluating or treating a dog for urine marking problems.

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WebMD Veterinary Reference from ASPCA Virtual Pet Behaviorist

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