Frequent Question: What Do You Do If Your Dog Can’t Pee?

Monitoring your dog’s health is a huge part of being a dog owner.

If you’re new to owning a dog, you might be wondering: What do you do if your dog can’t pee?

In this article, I will explore some key information on the potential reasons why your dog can’t pee, as well as what to do if your dog can’t urinate.

Let’s get started.

What Do You Do If Your Dog Can't Pee

Regular urination is a key sign of a healthy dog. In the same breath, a dog that is struggling to urinate is a dangerous symptom that should be checked out by your veterinarian.

If you have recently noticed that your dog isn’t peeing properly but is still drinking the same amount of water, then this is a clear indication that a bigger issue could be at fault.

Notes On Urinary Retention In Dogs

Urinary retention is what occurs when your dog is able to pass urine as they would normally.

If you suspect that your dog is struggling to urinate, then you need to call their veterinarian as this can quickly escalate to a more serious issue if you don’t get it checked out.

Your dog’s health should be your priority, so it’s not worth the risk of waiting for your dog’s symptoms to pass.

When your dog tries to urinate, the stream of urine might seem less than usual, interrupted, or in some cases nonexistent.

Your dog may also make frequent attempts to urinate with little to no success. In severe cases, your dog could suffer from abdominal pain.

Potential Reasons That Your Dog Can’t Pee

As a dog parent, it can be worrying when your dog won’t go to the bathroom. There are a variety of reasons why your dog might not be able to urinate.

Some common causes include:

They Have A Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

UTIs can be a common health problem in dogs and they are highly uncomfortable. Symptoms of a UTI include your dog needing to go to the toilet regularly, but little to no urine stream when they do go.


Obstructions in a dog’s urethra or bladder can be the cause of urinary retention. These obstructions can be down to factors such as bladder stones, blood clots, urethral plugs, a narrowing of the urethra, or even tumors that are cancerous.

Kidney Failure

Another reason for your dog struggling to urinate is kidney failure.


Cancer of the urinary tract can also be a cause. Cancerous tumors can cause obstructions to the urinary tract making it challenging for your dog to go to the toilet. If your dog is suffering from cancer, you might notice other symptoms such as blood in your dog’s urine.

With a condition such as a UTI, many veterinarians recommend treating UTIs before they become too serious. However, a blocked bladder is a life-threatening emergency and will need immediate veterinarian intervention, so it’s crucial to keep an eye on your dog and notice the symptoms.

In any case, a visit to the vet in most cases is essential to determine the cause and to avoid any serious complications as a result.

Is Urinary Retention A Serious Problem In Dogs?

Yes, urinary retention can be serious. Aside from the discomfort that your dog will experience from not being able to relieve themselves by going to the bathroom, their urine is waste.

The bladder is designed to remove toxins from the body and plays a fundamental role in how your body functions. If your dog doesn’t receive the necessary medical attention, then complete obstruction to their bladder could lead to their death within 3 to 5 days.

If your dog suffers from partial obstructions, this can cause damage to your dog’s kidneys. In addition to this, obstruction in a dog with a urinary tract infection (UTI) can cause sepsis.

What Do You Do If Your Dog Can’t Pee?

What Do You Do If Your Dog Can't Pee
  • You will need to carefully monitor your dog while they go outside to pee and watch to see if they are able to pass any urine.
  • If your dog can’t seem to go to the toilet, then look for urine in your dog’s bed around your house that they might have gone to but you’ve just not noticed.
  • Make sure that you keep an eye out for any other symptoms such as straining, vomiting, a swollen/painful tummy, crying out in pain, repeatedly licking, or even collapsing.
  • Call your veterinarian to book an examination at your nearest opportunity.

If you notice that your dog is unable to pass urine and is showing these signs it could be that they’re suffering from a blocked bladder. As I’ve mentioned above, this is a life-threatening emergency.

As a result, you shouldn’t wait to see if they improve and should call your vet immediately to get your dog examined.

Alternatively, if your dog is able to pass small amounts of urine and isn’t showing these signs, they may be suffering from a urine infection or a bladder problem.

Either way, it’s essential that you seek medical assistance and that they are examined by a vet if your dog is struggling to urinate. Your vet will be able to offer their advice and what treatment they’d recommend for your dog.

It’s important to note that if your dog is left untreated, the issue is likely to become worse and could potentially lead to more serious problems, and in severe cases, could even be fatal.

How Long Is Too Long For A Dog Not To Pee?

Generally speaking, an adult dog is able to hold their pee for up to 10 to 12 hours. You should allow your adult dog to relieve themselves a minimum of 3 to 5 times per day.

Bearing this in mind, if your dog hasn’t been at least once every 8 hours, then there might be an issue.

Never Diagnose Your Dog Yourself

Your dog not being able to urinate constantly is an issue that requires a veterinarian examination. Attempting to diagnose your dog is dangerous, and you should never hope that the problem is going to go away on its own as this could be fatal.

While it’s good to note any symptoms down to ensure that you don’t forget anything to tell your veterinarian, you should make sure that you don’t self-diagnose your dog from something that you read about online.

As I’ve discussed, your dog not being able to urinate is a serious problem, especially if you’re not aware of when the symptoms first started. As a result, it’s essential that you call a vet to have your dog examined.

When you book your dog in for a veterinarian examination, you should make sure that you mention all of the symptoms that you have noticed and noted down. This will help your dog to receive the highest standard of care, as if the vet knows there’s an issue, they’ll be less likely to miss something.

In some circumstances, medication may be available to help your dog’s condition. Talk to your veterinarian about prescriptions, and make sure that you follow the protocol for the best results.

In Summary

It’s vital that you pay close attention to your dog and make sure that you know how often they’re going to the toilet.

Monitor them for symptoms of struggling to pass urine, as this will help you to spot any issues early on and ensure that your dog receives the best possible care.

Megan Turner