Understanding Bed Wetting Problems in Dogs

Mychelle Blake
Owner on the bed, dog on the floor

Sometimes dogs may pee in your bed, whether alone or when you're in it. Often the first response of dog owners is to think the dog did this on purpose, but most often it's either a medical issue or because the dog is not fully house trained.

Why Dogs Wet the Bed

There are several common reasons why dogs will urinate in your bed. If your dog has been fine and suddenly begins to pee in your bed, you should get them to a veterinarian to rule out a medical issue.

Older Dog Incontinence

If you have a senior dog who has begun to wet the bed, this is most likely due to incontinence that develops as a result of old age. Incontinence occurs in at least 20% of all dogs so it's a common issue and can be related simply to old age or as a secondary symptom due to an illness found in geriatric dogs, such as kidney disease or Cushing's disease. If your elderly dog has canine cognitive dysfunction, he may also pee on your bed out of a general sense of confusion. Your veterinarian can prescribe a drug such as phenylpropanolamine (PPA) to help tighten up the sphincter muscle. You may also need to control your dog's leakage using a belly band or diapers.

Spay Incontinence

If you have a spayed female dog who seems to leak a small amount of urine, often at night when she's sleeping, she probably has hormone-responsive urinary incontinence or "spay incontinence." This condition often happens to females who are middle aged to seniors. Because spayed dogs do not get the same amount of hormones as an unsterilized dog, the lack of estrogen causes the urethral sphincter muscles to "loosen" and urine can leak out. Your veterinarian can prescribe PPA and advise you to use protection like diapers or a waterproof sheet covering for your bed.

Medical Problems

Certain medical problems can make a dog temporarily incontinent, such as a urinary tract infection, bladder stones or even prostate disease in the case of male dogs. In these situations your veterinarian will prescribe medication to treat the condition. In other more serious conditions, such as diabetes, spinal cord disease or liver disease, the incontinence may be a long-term or permanent symptom. If medication doesn't help your veterinarian may advise you to work on management such as wearing diapers and keeping your dog off your bed, as well as getting him or her a dog bed that's waterproof and easy to clean.

Behavioral Reasons for Urinating in the Bed

Sometimes dogs can pee on the bed out of intense excitement, which is usually an involuntary response. In other cases, a dog that is anxious and afraid may urinate on the bed or other surfaces as a reflex reaction. In both scenarios, the dog is not able to control his bladder and is not peeing out of spite or on purpose. If the dog is peeing on the bed for behavioral reasons, you can work with a behavior consultant or qualified trainer to work on the underlying emotion causing the urination. You can also practice management by keeping him off the bed in the meantime.

Incomplete Housetraining

Some dogs simply pee on the bed because they're not truly house trained and don't understand fully where they should and should not go. In this case, go back to "housetraining 101" and work on training your dog positively until you are absolutely sure he is done having accidents in the house. Crate training is a great option to use in these cases. Some small dogs are notoriously difficult to house train and you may want to try a belly band in these cases while working on your training program.

Proper Cleanup Is Important

If your dog is urinating on your bed, it's important to clean the sheets and mattress thoroughly so your dog no longer smells the residue. This can encourage the dog to continue urinating there. Use a special cleaner designed for breaking down urine, as simple soap and water may remove the smell for you but not for your dog's highly tuned senses.

Dogs Peeing on the Bed

Having a dog urinate on your bed is definitely unpleasant, but it's not uncommon, especially for older dogs. The best course of action is to rule out a medical issue with a veterinary checkup and then work to solve the underlying issue. Remember that dogs do not urinate to "get back" at you, but because they are either ill, untrained or have an emotional reason such as fear or excitement.

Understanding Bed Wetting Problems in Dogs