How Long Can a Dog Hold Their Pee (Go without Peeing)

When a dog hold their pee it is just as uncomfortable as if you had to do it yourself. If your dog drinks the recommended daily amount of water, then nature will be calling when it’s time to get rid of the excess liquids. So, how long can a dog hold their pee?

Under normal circumstances, healthy adult dogs can hold their pee for 6 to 8 hours. Smaller, younger, and senior dogs will hold their pee for shorter periods, and the length of time your dog can go without peeing will also depend on other factors like health, dog size, and diet.

Because how long your dog holds pee can turn into a health issue, and you sure don’t want that, we created this article to help you understand your dog’s peeing needs. That way, you can give your furry friend a comfortable life, even when it comes to ridding his body of wastes.

How Long Your Dog Hold their Pee depends

When veterinarians say dogs can hold their pee for 6 to 8 hours, they usually mean adult dogs with good health. This is because, as mentioned at the beginning, the amount of time a dog can go without peeing changes with certain factors like age, size, health, and diet. Let’s talk more about each of these factors.

A dog peeing on the ground

Age: Younger Dogs Hold Their Pee for Shorter Periods

Puppies have a small bladder and underdeveloped urinary system and bladder contraction muscles. For this reason, they do not have the urine containment ability of an adult dog and will not be able to hold their pee for long, especially if they are not yet potty trained. As such, when it comes to age and how long dogs hold their pee, the rule of thumb is puppy age plus one. For example, if you have a 2-month old puppy, adding one to its age will give you 3 hours of holding pee. But this works up to a certain age. At around 7 years, your dog’s urine-holding ability begins to decline. By the time they are12 years old, dogs’ ability to hold pee is similar to that of a 3-month old puppy.

Size: Smaller Dogs Hold Their Pee for Shorter Periods

You might have heard that smaller dogs hold their pee for shorter periods. Do you know why? Their bladder size is proportional to their body size. 

So, if your small-sized toy dog is drinking their water as it should, don’t expect the pet to hold pee for similar periods as a larger dog.

Health: Sick Dogs may Suffer from Urine Incontinence

You’ll read about dog health and urine incontinence in greater detail a little later in the article. Right, now, it’s important to know that sickness alters how the body systems function. And if a sickness affects the systems related to a dog’s excretory processes, they can easily suffer from the inability to hold their urine.

Diet: A Wet Diet can Cause Frequent Urination

The type of food you give to your dog affects their urination routine. Good hydration and diets rich in moisture mean more liquids in the body and, hence, frequent bathroom breaks. Dogs consistently on dry kibble may need to empty their bladder less frequently.

Notice your dog’s pee color. Dark yellow pee is often a sign of poor hydration, and you should consider giving more water and moisture-rich foods to your pet.

Should Your Dog Hold their Pee at all?

It’s natural for dogs to hold their pee as long as their bladder is not full. However, once the natural urge to empty their bladder is felt, holding pee is neither fun nor healthy for your furry friend.

If we go by what we’ve said so far, it is ok for a healthy adult dog to hold pee between 6 to 8 hours. Beyond this, however, you are exposing your pet to the buildup of toxins in the urinary tract and the weakening of bladder muscles, among other complex health issues. 

You will hear some dog owners say their dog can hold pee for up to 10 or 12 hours. But that does not mean they should hold it for that long. Ordinarily, your dog should empty their bladder 3 to 5 times a day, which counts for every 8 hours maximum.

But, what if your dog does not meet the average waiting time before needing to pee or often needs to pee urgently? Well, that could be an alarm for health issues, and a veterinarian should address it immediately.

Health Reasons Why Your Dog Can’t Wait to Pee

If you notice that your dog ‘gotta go’ more frequently than usual, it’s likely that there are health issues affecting the pet’s urine excretion systems.

These problems could be caused by physical, emotional, and developmental issues, including the following:

Kidney Problems

Kidney health problems occur when one of these primary functions of the kidney are wholly or partially compromised:

  • Filtering blood.
  • Processing protein wastes and excreting them into the urine.
  • Preserving the balance in body salts, water, and acids.
  • Maintaining normal levels of red blood cells.

Frequent urination is one of the early signs of kidney problems. If your dog needs to go very often or has urinary incontinence, then an unhealthy kidney could be the culprit.

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

UTIs are quite common in dogs. According to the AKC, 14% of all dogs will experience urinary tract infections in their lifetime. 

UTIs are caused by the presence of bacteria in the urethra and bladder. Even though urine is sterile, holding pee for long hours and some conditions like bladder stones can alter the balance in the urinary tract and bladder and allow the growth of bacteria.  

Your dog will feel the need to urinate more often when there are urinary tract infections, even though their bladder may not be full.

Bladder Problems

A dog suffering from infection lying on a bed

Your dog’s frequent urination can be caused by bladder problems such as bladder stones or bladder cancer.

Bacterial cystitis, caused by the inflammation and infection of the bladder, also leads to abnormally frequent urination in dogs.

Spay Incontinence

In older spayed female dogs, frequent urination can be caused by a condition known as spay incontinence. This type of urinary incontinence is caused by the loss of urethra muscle tone and a weakened bladder due to low estrogen levels. The type of urinary incontinence known as Urethral Sphincter Mechanism Incompetence (USMI) caused by a weakened bladder is the most common among female spayed dogs but can also occur in male dogs.


We already alluded to the fact that older dogs will hold their pee for shorter periods. This shortened period of holding pee is caused by weakened urethra muscles that come with aging.

Other causes of frequent urination in aging dogs include: 

  • The decline in estrogen levels in female dogs.
  • An abnormally positioned bladder.
  • Obesity and overweight.
  • Changes in the urinary and reproductive organs support structures.

Dog Anxiety

Fear, separation, and aging are the leading causes of dog anxiety. Especially with separation anxiety, dogs who suffer emotional nervousness from prolonged times alone and away from their owners can frequently pee as a fear-response mechanism. 

This may also happen as a result of holding pee for long periods while locked up, which could be accompanied by uncontrolled licking of the genital area due to the discomfort of holding pee for long hours.

What if My Dog Pees Less Frequently than Normal?

Sometimes, instead of peeing frequently because they cannot hold pee for long, dogs may pee less frequently than usual. 

There are a few reasons your dog may pee less frequently than usual:

  • Your dog is dehydrated and needs to drink the recommended amount of water daily: 1oz (30mls) for every pound of body weight.
  • Health issues related to the urinary excretory system, such as a blocked bladder, and should be seen by a veterinarian ASAP.
  • Your dog is dealing with emotional problems such as the difficulty of adapting to a new environment and doesn’t feel safe enough to leave its mark.

How to Help Your Dog Pee at Normal Intervals

It’s clear by now that your dog cannot be left to hold pee for hours on end, and that requires some form of balance between your life and your dog’s toilet needs.

If you work for long hours and your pet has to be home alone, you can find solutions to ensure your dog has normal peeing rhythms and does not need to hold urine for longer periods than recommended.  

Here are 6 ways you can adapt to help your dog pee at routine intervals without needing to hold urine for long hours.

Train Your Dog to Use Pee Pads

Dog pee pads or potty pads are rectangular or square absorbent mats that soak up your pet’s urine. They are often used for dog potty training and can be a dog parent’s lifesaver when the dog is alone in the house or has issues holding pee. Your dog will need to be trained to do it on the pad

A good example is the Amazon Basics Dog and Puppy Pads. This 5-layer pee pad is super absorbent and has a plastic ring to prevent leakage. It comes in a pack of 100 regular-sized pads and has a built-in moisture attractant to keep the surface dry.

Install a Doggy Door

If you have a secure backyard where your dog can be without being at risk or escaping, you can install a doggy door. This will allow your pet to go out for his bathroom breaks and back into the house when you are not around.

Make Your Dog an Indoor Bathroom/Litter Box

Having an indoor bathroom or litter box will require training before your dog can use it. But it is an excellent idea because your dog doesn’t have to hold it until you bring him out to pee or until you are back home from work. 

An indoor bathroom or litter box would work perfectly for dogs with urinary incontinence and those that need to pee frequently.

Hire a Dog Sitter/Walker

Hiring a dog sitter or walker is a good way of substituting your presence when you are not home with your dog. Your furry friend can meet his peeing needs in the company of another person instead of being home alone and holding pee till you return.

Take Your Dog to Daycare

If you don’t have a less expensive option, you can send your furry friend to a daycare. This will not just help have your dog take his bathroom breaks when he needs to, but it will also work as an exercising and socialization option for your pet.

Make Quick Home Visits To Check on Your Dog

If you work close to your home, you can take a quick run home to check on your pet and bring him to pee. This is, however, a difficult option to practice daily.

Make Your Dog Your Work Companion

Dog sitting on a chair with its owner

As a last resort, you can consider bringing your dog with you to work if your work environment and rules allow it. That way, you can take care of getting your dog to pee when the need arises.

Final Thoughts

Holding on to pee for long hours is not only uncomfortable for your dog, but it can also compromise your furry friend’s health. Your dog should hold their pee for a maximum of 6 to 8 hours. Any situation that causes your dog to go without peeing for more extended periods than this is detrimental to your pet’s health.

If you foresee situations that will cause your dog to hold their pee beyond 8 hours, consider alternative ways of ensuring regular bathroom breaks for your pet. You’ll be a responsible dog parent by doing that, promoting your dog’s health and overall welfare.