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Why is my old dog peeing in the house suddenly?

Why is my old dog peeing in the house suddenly?

There could be a lot of reasons for an older dog to start slipping up and peeing on the floor in your house. There could be something physically wrong causing the problem, but it could just be old age. Dogs, like people, can become forgetful. Dogs can get something similar to dementia that older people get. Any change to the routine could also throw an older dog off his schedule. Keep in mind that dogs are not intentionally doing this, so there is no reason to be upset with your pet when she starts having accidents.

Why is my old dog peeing in the house suddenly?

Sometimes dogs are not completely house trained and will forget where they are supposed to relieve themselves. This is especially true with a rescue dog, or one you have adopted. If dogs are not completely trained, the training may wear off with time. It is a good idea to repeat the training now and then just to help them avoid forgetting.

Why is it happening?

There could be a lot of reasons, but one major cause is a disruption to the routine. Dogs like routine, and any change can cause them confusion.  Even something like changing their food bowl can cause them to not eat, for example.

The Dog’s point of view

If you move to a new house or make significant changes to the inside of your house, it can throw the dog off mentally. Dogs are also a little black and white in their thinking. They may know not to pee in your house, but when they are in a different house or building, the rules do not apply. Just because they know not to pee in one building, does not mean they know not to pee in another building. 

What else is happening?

Once you understand how the dog thinks, you can consider what else is happening that may be contributing to the problem. Moving to a new house would require new training, most likely unless your dog has been extremely well-trained. 

Other changes can also affect a dog’s behavior. New people or new animals in the house can make your dog nervous and more likely to forget where to pee. 

If your dog starts having accidents suddenly, consider what else is happening around them that may have thrown them off schedule or disrupted their world.

Why is my old dog peeing in the house at night?

Your dog may simply not be able to hold it like he used to. He may or may not try to wake you up and get you to let him out.  Dogs may be awake at night and silently move about the house. They may have had too much water before the lights went out and were unable to hold it until morning. Their muscles fade with age, which means they cannot hold it as long.

If this happens at night, it may also happen if the dog is left alone in the house for a long time during the day. The problem is simply that his body changes with age and he is not able to do what he used to as far as holding in water. You may also notice your dog not running as fast or jumping as high as she used to as she gets older.

Physical reasons

It could be a simple matter of a change of routine, but there can also be physical and mental reasons for your dog to start peeing on the floor. This can be disconcerting if you have had your dog for 10-15 years and they have not had an accident in the house in about 10 years. If it suddenly starts happening, consider whether there have been any changes to his routine that may have thrown things off. Also, consider the idea that the dog may not be able to hold it as long as he did in the past. Getting back to the routine, or some new training could fix it if that is the problem.

Beyond this, there are physiological reasons for your dog to start having accidents in your house. 

Some physical issues:

  • Tumors
  • Cysts in the bladder or urinary tract
  • Infections
  • Crystals in the urine
  • Inflammation of the bladder
  • Bladder stones
  • Structural abnormalities.
  • Incontinence
  • Diabetes
  • Cushing’s Disease

Incontinence is a lack of control over urination, and can also cause involuntary defecation. The dog will be unaware this is happening, and it can happen even while they are sleeping. Bladder leakage is the most common problem. Dog incontinence is very similar to human incontinence. It can often be treated with medication.

Diabetes can also be a culprit. This can affect dogs just as it can humans. Dogs can develop this condition at any age. Again, medication can fix this issue, and with dogs, your vet may give you a special diet for the dog to help deal with diabetes.

Kidney failure is another big issue for dogs. It can come about suddenly, which can also be fatal if not treated immediately. This is often caused by some kind of poisoning such as drinking anti-freeze or some other exposure to a toxin. Kidney infections can also cause kidney failure. An infection can be treated routinely if caught early enough.

There is also something called chronic kidney disease, which is caused by a general deterioration of the kidneys so they don’t function properly. This comes on more slowly and gets worse over time. Eventually, it will cause the death of the dog.

Cushing’s Disease is a relatively rare condition that can affect older dogs. It is caused when the adrenal glands overproduce cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that plays a role in blood sugar levels, general inflammation, and blood pressure. Too much cortisol causes the problem. The opposite of this problem is Addison’s Disease. This can be a life-threatening condition if not treated, but it can be treated with medication. It can be caused by prolonged steroid use, and by tumors.

Mental or emotional issues

Dogs can develop a condition called Canine Cognitive Dysfunction. This is similar to Alzheimer’s in humans. They can forget their training, and forget a lot of things, just like humans can when their brain deteriorates.

To determine if this is the issue, pay attention to your dog’s overall behavior. If they appear lost at times or are staring into space in a confused way. If your dog suddenly does not respond to being called or acts like he doesn’t know who you are, that could be a symptom of canine cognitive dysfunction.

When a dog has this condition there will be:

  • Changes in levels of awareness
  • Loss of memory
  • Inability to learn
  • Decreased responsiveness

Symptoms to look for:

  • Disorientation, confusion. Lost in what is normally a familiar place.
  • Anxiety or restlessness.
  • Irritability
  • Decreased desire to play or interact.
  • Unable to follow normal routines, , like going outside to pee
  • Loss of appetite

The cause of this illness is not known or understood, but it is very similar to what happens to humans as they age. Your veterinarian can do a thorough physical examination to rule out other physical causes for the symptoms that are happening. It is not likely that the occasional accident in the house will be the only symptom. 

There is therapy available for your dog that has this condition, and it will have to be repeated often as long as the dog lives.  You can also help by creating an environment that helps them navigate their world. There are some medications that can help if the condition is caught early enough. Some supplements to the diet in the form of vitamins can also help with mental function.

The condition is a degenerative process that, like with humans, cannot be stopped or reversed. If your dog is healthy otherwise, it will not be fatal in the short term. Eventually, the dog’s quality of life will suffer, but the condition itself is not fatal.

How to get my old dog to stop peeing in the house?

These are the main reasons that dogs may start peeing in the house when they get older. Dogs age much the same way as humans do, but it is much faster. Dogs age about seven years to one human year, so a 10-year old dog is like a 70-year-old human to some extent.

There are several strategies you could try to help your dog avoid accidents. It is important to try not to get upset with your dog. It is not intentional and as they get older this kind of issue is rather common. You may not be able to stop the behavior entirely, but you can create an environment to make it easier for the dog to deal with getting older. The environment and routine are especially important for dogs.

  • Think like your dog. Consider any recent changes to the routine that may have caused your dog stress or confusion. Sometimes we see things as minor changes that would be major shifts for a dog. Try to keep routines as much as possible.
  • Spay or neuter your dog. Most dogs have this done at an early age, but if your dog has not had this done, that could be a major contributor to the issue. 
  • Take your dog to the vet. Your veterinarian can determine whether there is a physical condition that is causing the problem. The vet can also prescribe medications that can help.
  • Train or re-train your dog. Especially if you have moved, or if there have been major changes inside your house, you may need to train your dog again. Dogs are very location-specific when it comes to urinating.
  • Look for and eliminate any triggers that could be causing the problem. Stress can cause your dog to urinate, and remember, that what might not be stressful to us may be stressful for them.
  • Give lots of opportunities. Let your dog out more often because the dog cannot hold it like she used to. Be sure to let them out again before going to bed. 
  • Put down pads for the dog to pee on. You can place one in the bathroom overnight, and teach the dog to go there.  You could also do this during the day while the dog is home alone. If the bathroom is not a good location, put one where the dog has peed more than once.  
  • Clean up properly. A dog’s sense of smell is much greater than ours. We may not notice the scent, but the dog will. This is why you need to make sure you have completely eliminated the smell.  If the scent is still there, the dog may return to the same spot and use it again if he can’t get outside. Placing a pad there is also a good idea.