Inappropriate Urination - House Soiling in Dogs and Cats
The not so funny, funny cartoon
We’ve all gotten a chuckle out of this cartoon that has made its way around social media in the last week. While we are laughing now, the fact is, it really is not at all that funny.
I’m sure many of you have had that not so funny experience of walking through your house with your shoes off and inadvertently stepping in a wet spot. Then after your first shock of finding yourself stepping in something wet at 11:00 PM, upon further investigation, your suspicions are confirmed. Yep, it is urine you stepped in – Eeeew!!
Unfortunately, inappropriate urination for both dogs and cats is not uncommon. When it happens, it is a sign of a problem that should be investigated. The first step is to determine whether it is happening due to a medical condition. Health problems can cause both dogs and cats to start eliminating in inappropriate places. If a visit with your veterinarian shows no health-related causes, the next cause to consider is a behavioral one.
Let’s look at the health-related issues first. There are a number of medical conditions that can cause a perfectly house or littler-box trained pet to change their behavior:
- Bladder infection – A bladder infection can cause the bladder and urethra to become inflamed and painful. This can create the need for your pet to urinate more frequently, or cause pain upon urination.
- Bladder stones or crystals – Both dogs and cats can develop crystals or stones in their bladder, creating discomfort or even blockage. This problem is seen more often in male cats and certain dog breeds for example Dalmations, English Bull Dogs, and Schnauzers. In both dogs and cats, this problem needs to be addressed right away, as a blockage can become life-threatening.
- Kidney problems – Kidney disease, kidney failure, or stones can cause problems with urination. Most frequently we see increased urination due to increased water intake. The increased water intake occurs because the kidneys are having trouble clearing toxins from the body.
- Diabetes – Diabetes causes excessive thirst and urination.
- Incontinence – Age or injury can cause some pets to have difficulty holding urine in the bladder.
- Brain function- Injury, tumors or age-related dementia can cause a pet to begin to change their bathroom habits.
- Adrenal gland problems – Diseases like Cushing’s or Addison’s can cause frequent urination.
- Pain due to arthritis – Old injuries, genetic pre-disposition and old age can cause arthritis to develop. When it advances far enough along, it can make it uncomfortable for your pet to squat or lift a leg to urinate.
After medical problems are ruled out, that’s when it is time to look at the inappropriate urination from a behavioral aspect.
- The box itself - Cats can develop aversions to the type of litter box, type of litter or the location of the litter box.
- The neat freak – Some cats can be very fastidious, and if the litter box is not kept clean at all times, they will find another place to go
- Territorial – Some cats do not want to use a litter box that has been used by another cat, even if they seem to be best snuggle buddies. Make sure you have at least one litter box available per cat.
- Environment – Are there changes that have occurred in your cat’s environment that has caused them to be stressed? Removing stressors can sometimes alleviate the problem.
- Territorial marking – If you are discovering urine outside of the litterbox, it is important to determine if it is due to eliminating urine, or territorial spraying. If the urine you have discovered on the floor is near a wall or other vertical surface, it is likely that you are seeing evidence of territorial spraying.
This is just a brief list of some of the issues and resolutions for behavior-based inappropriate elimination in cats. For more detailed information, please check out the following links:
According to a recent study, inappropriate urination affects up to 37% of dogs diagnosed with behavioral problems. This behavior is most common in male dogs that have not been neutered. The most common behavioral causes of inappropriate urination in dogs are:
- Submission or anxiety - Overly anxious dogs or dogs that lack confidence in different situations will urinate to show submission, or urinate from fear.
- Excitement – Excitement can cause some dogs to lose control of their bladder. Work to make exciting events, less exciting, like when a person returns home or a new person comes to the house.
- Marking territory – This happens more frequently with in-tact male dogs and male dogs that have been neutered later in life.
- Not enough house training – There are some breeds of dogs that have the reputation of being more difficult to house train. However, most often the problem lies with the pet owner not being disciplined in their training, ending training too soon, putting unrealistic expectations on puppies, or expecting that their dogs can easily and comfortably hold their urine for long periods of time.
For more detailed information about how to handle behavior-related inappropriate urination in dogs, please check out the following links: