How Long Can Dogs Hold On Without Peeing (It Can Be Dangerous)

Even dogs need time to pee, and you should be letting them out in the garden regularly so that they can relieve themselves as well as taking them on regular walks. But, if you have to head out for the day you might be left wondering if you’ll come home to an accident. 

A dog can go around 8-10 hours without peeing. That doesn’t mean they should though as regularly holding their pee for a long time can cause kidney and bladder damage. Got a small or young dog? They need to go more often. 

Letting your dog out to pee a good three to five times a day is essential for their health and wellbeing. If you want to know more about what happens if they hold their pee too long and the factors that impact how long they can go for, keep scrolling down. 

Factors That Affect Dog’s Ability to Hold Their Pee 

While 8-10 hours is the standard for the amount of time a dog can hold their pee for, there are other factors that can contribute to the timeframe. It can make the time shorter, or longer, but the end result remains the same – DON’T make them hold it in! 

Age. This is a huge factor. Puppies aren’t able to hold their pee as long as adult dogs and your senior citizen will also have trouble keeping everything inside. But it’s not all about capacity, in puppies the bladder muscles have not fully developed and seniors tend to have weaker ones. 

This contributes to the difficulty holding it in because they cannot fully control their bladders. For puppies, their muscles are still strengthening and learning how to contract. For seniors, their muscles are weakening and they may also have inflammation or limited mobility

Here’s a quick look at how long your dog can hold their pee according to their age group:

  • Puppies under 6 months: 1-3 hours 
  • Puppies over 6 months: 2-6 hours 
  • Adults under 7 years: 6-8 hours 
  • Seniors over 7 years: 4-6 hours
  • Seniors over 12 years: 2-4 hours 

Of course, adult dogs have been known to be able to hold their pee for 10-12 hours, so these figures are a good starting point for you to follow for the average dog. There are other factors that can contribute to how long they can hold it. 

Size. In this case, size matters. A small dog or a toy breed has a much SMALLER bladder than a large or giant breed. Therefore, the little dog will need to go out more and the larger dog may need to go out less. This is also helpful to know when you are housetraining them. 

On average, your dog will pee about 10-20ml per pound of body weight per day. It’s not a huge amount, especially for little dogs, but it leads you to wonder how much they are able to hold? Exactly, small capacity so make sure they are heading outside regularly.

Health. There are health conditions that can cause more frequent urination. Things like diabetes, a UTI, kidney failure, or even weight issues. If you have noticed that your pooch is peeing more than usual, make sure you give your vet a call. 

Diet. If your dog has a diet that is rich in moisture, it may lead them to pee more. This is a good thing as it means they are hydrated. It aids digestion and keeps the toxins flushed out. A dog fed solely on kibble may pee less but it is not necessarily healthier. 

dog urine colour chart

Image Source:

If you’re worried about your dog’s hydration you can check out the pee chart above that gives you a good indicator of what to look for. 

Read Here: How Long Can A Dog Go Without Pooping?

The Importance of a Toilet Routine 

Routine is important for all of us, and that includes your pup. Young, adults, elderly, all benefit from a daily routine and the toilet is part of that. It’s good for their physical health as well as their mental wellbeing

When you wake up in the morning, the FIRST thing you should do is let your dog out to pee. This helps them get into the swing of things and ensures they are able to relieve themselves right after sleeping. 

The reason why they can go all night without needing to pee is that the body produces a lot less urine while asleep, which means unless your dog has a touchy bladder they are fine to go through the night undisturbed. 

Have set times when you let them out during the day. For example, first thing in the morning, mid-morning, lunchtime, and then the evening after dinner and before bed (factoring a walk in between lunch and dinner). 

If you give them a routine they are able to train themselves to hold their pee until their designated time to go out. This means fewer accidents at the night (and they will eventually go away) as well as a healthy bladder that is emptied on a regular basis.

chocolate labrodor weeing on th floor

Check out our guide to find out how long a dog can really go without water before becoming unwell.

What Happens if a Dog Holds its Pee too Long? 

If your dog has to hold their pee for too long, you are likely to come home to an accident. It’s not because they aren’t housetrained, but we all reach a point where we simply cannot keep it in any longer. If this happens, it is important that you don’t get mad with them – it’s YOUR fault. 

However, you are also opening them up to a range of health issues if you ask them to hold their pee for a long time on a regular basis. 

UTI. Part of urination is flushing out all the toxins in the body as well as bacteria that builds up in both the kidneys (a filtration organ) and the bladder. If they have to hold their pee, it means the bacteria and toxins continue to populate in the urinary tract. 

This can lead to painful crystals forming as well as stones and blockages that have the potential to be fatal. Dogs will need veterinary treatment for UTIs and if they recur frequently it can lead to permanent kidney or bladder damage. 

Urinary Cancer. Urine also contains carcinogens, and these will have a better opportunity to meet and combine with healthy cells when they are trapped in the urinary tract. This then causes them to become cancerous

While it is a much less common occurrence, it is still important to keep this potential risk in mind and remember to let them out for pee breaks regularly. 

Incontinence. While this is commonly associated with older dogs, it can happen at any age. If your dog is made to hold their pee on a regular basis it causes the over-distention of the bladder. This damages the muscle and surrounding tissue of the bladder, causing leaks. 

The worst thing is that this incontinence can be permanent and is not necessarily reversible. Therefore, it is essential that you remember to let your dog out to pee regularly. 

dog lifting his leg to pee

Read Here: Best Dog Food for Urinary Health

Final Thoughts 

If your dog has to hold their pee in regularly it can cause UTIs as well as lasting damage to their bladder and kidneys. While it’s fine for them to hold it through the night while they sleep, try not to leave them without a pee break for more than 3-4 hours in a day. 

If you enjoyed this installation in our canine care guide, why not check out the rest? Each instalment takes you through tips and tricks for watching over their health as well as all of the things they can and cannot eat.