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Healthy Dogs

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Urine Marking in Dogs

Medical Causes to Rule Out continued...

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.

Other Types of Urination Problems to Rule Out

Submissive/Excitement Urination

Your dog might have a submissive or excitement urination problem if he only urinates during greetings, play, physical contact, scolding or punishment. If this is the case, you might notice him displaying submissive postures during interactions. He might cringe or cower, roll over on his belly, duck his head, avert his eyes, flatten his ears or all of the above. For more information about submissive or excitement urination, please see our article, Submissive Urination.

Lack of House Training

If a dog has always soiled in the home, has lived outside or in a kennel, or has an unknown history, it’s likely that she simply has never been house trained. To learn more about house training problems and how to solve them, please see our article, House Training Your Adult Dog.

Separation Anxiety

If your dog only soils when left alone in your home, even for short periods of time, she may have separation anxiety. If this is the case, you may notice that she appears nervous or upset right before you leave her by herself or after you’ve left (if you can observe her while she’s alone).For more information about separation anxiety, please see our article, Separation Anxiety.

What to Do About Urine Marking

Urine marking is a normal form of communication among dogs. Dogs are drawn to urine marks left by other dogs and are apparently able to get information by sniffing the urine, such as the identity, the sex and the reproductive status (whether a dog is neutered or spayed) of the marker. Males are more likely than females to urine mark, and reproductively intact males are more likely to mark than neutered males, especially in the presence of females or rival males. Reproductively intact females will mark, especially prior to coming into and during estrous (before and while they’re in heat) to advertise their availability. However, even spayed females sometimes urine mark. A study of urine marking in dogs revealed that 10 percent of the dogs who urine marked started the behavior at 3 months of age, 20 percent by 6 months, 40 percent by 12 months, 70 percent by 1½ years, and 90 percent before 2 years.

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