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    Dog Can't Pee? Here's Why...

    Dog Can't Pee? Here's Why...

    by Health / 3 min read


    Estimated Read Time: 3 ½ minutes

    Summary: Urinary retention in dogs is a sign that something is off in your dog’s health. In this blog, we’ll learn a few of the potential reasons why your dog maybe struggling to pee and what to do about it…

    Regular urination, quite simply, is one of the signs of a healthy dog. So, what does it mean if your dog is struggling to pee? This is called urinary retention, and when you notice your dog isn’t peeing as often as they usually do, this is probably something to be concerned about…

    If your dog can’t pee, you may also notice that your dog’s bladder is distended to touch and they may frequently leak urine if the bladder is full but they can’t go. You may witness your dog trying to urinate, but their stream of urine is weak, interrupted, or simply not happening at all. Your dog may also have lost their appetite, appear to be in pain (indicated by vocalizing or repeatedly licking their genitals), have a swollen belly, be vomiting, or even collapse.

    The first thing you should absolutely do is call your veterinarian, as the reasons behind your dog not being able to pee can be very serious. Trying to treat your dog yourself in this instance is dangerous and must be avoided. The bladder is responsible for carrying toxins out of the body via urine, and if this isn’t sorted quickly a dog could die within 3-5 days of the problem starting. Your fast actions could save their life.

    A medium-sized dog with white and fawn-colored fur and brown eyes lays on the hard floor.

    My Dog Can’t Pee. Why?

    Blocked Bladder; if your dog’s urethra or bladder is obstructed, this could be causing your dog to struggle to pee. A blockage could be caused by a blood clot, bladder stones, urethral plugs, the urethra narrowing, scar tissue, lesions, or tumor growth.

    Urinary Tract Infection (UTI); UTIs are actually very common in dogs and they are incredibly uncomfortable for them to experience - just like they are for human beings. Your dog may be attempting to urinate but struggling to pass anything or vocalizing when they do which indicates the considerable discomfort that often comes with a UTI. 

    Prostate Gland Issue; if a male dog’s prostate gland is enlarged or inflamed, this may cause them difficulty peeing.

    Urinary Tract Cancer; although incredibly rare, urinary tract cancer is possible and a cancerous tumor growth could be causing your dog to not be able to urinate. In the case of cancer, you may also notice blood in your dog’s urine. Frequent UTIs can also indicate cancer. 

    Kidney Failure; If the kidneys aren’t functioning properly, this can lead to urinary retention in dogs. 

    But, to stress again, being unable to pass urine is a life-threatening situation. If left untreated this can lead to severe pain for your dog, a dangerously slow heartbeat, kidney problems, a burst bladder, sepsis, or even result in their death. So, please contact your vet if this is happening to your dog as a matter of emergency. 

    Make a note of their symptoms and relay them to your vet and also check for urine elsewhere in your house or in their bed. If your dog is passing a little bit of urine, try and collect a sample so your vet can test their urine when you arrive at the veterinarian's office.


    Author Kriss, Randa “Why Is My Dog Having Trouble Peeing?” American Kennel Club, Sep 27. 2017

    “What To Do If Your Cat/Dog Can’t Pee” PDSA, Oct. 2021

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