Medical Causes for Dog House Soiling, Dog Marking
There are a number of medical issues that could cause or contribute to the problem of house soiling (i.e., dog urinating in the house), and these issues become increasingly more common as a dog ages. If you have an adult dog that has begun to behave uncharacteristically, or a young dog that seems to be unable to learn to hold its bladder until it is outside, a medical evaluation will be indicated as the first line of treatment. Some other indications that would point to a medical issue are an increase in the amount of water your dog is drinking, an increase in the frequency or volume of elimination (more, or less), or an apparent inability to hold the bladder or sphincter muscles, resulting in incontinence.
Previous and existing conditions will need to be taken into account, as well as any medications your dog is taking. If you are seeing an unknown veterinarian, the history you provide will be essential for a making an accurate diagnosis. If you are seeing your regular vet, try to write down and relate any changes your dog has displayed since his last medical exam. Any change in your dog’s normal behavior and routine should be recorded.
As best as you can, make a record of how much your dog drinks and eats – use measuring cups to measure out the food and water you are giving to your dog throughout the day and write the amounts down. Record each time your dog urinates or makes a stool, including the approximate amount, the time of day (or night), and the location. If possible, take a sample of your dog’s urine and stool to give to your veterinarian; this can save your dog the stress of having these materials removed manually.
Some of the more serious underlying conditions that are found in dogs that uncharacteristically begin urinating in the home are diabetes, kidney disease, and Cushing’s disease (which causes an overproduction of steroids). These conditions will be tested for and confirmed or ruled out before the next step is taken. Conditions that are less serious but significantly uncomfortable for the afflicted dog are bladder infections and bladder stones – both of which can be treated and resolved quickly, as long as they have not had a chance to do damage to the internal structures.
Weakening of the bladder and sphincter muscles is a normal part of aging for many dogs, so finding a puddle of urine where your dog sleeps may indicate incontinence due to age. Incontinence may also be related to illnesses that are not directly associated with the bladder and intestines, like viruses and bacterial infections.
Dogs with brain diseases, including cognitive dysfunction, may eliminate on the floor with no detectable pattern. They may not realize what they are doing, or they may have forgotten their training. For special needs dogs like this, you will need to make changes in the home that will assist the dog.
If your dog is passing stools onto the floor, monitor his eating and elimination habits to determine whether stool frequency has changed (less often, more often), stool volume has changed (small amounts vs. large amounts), stool consistency has changed (hard, soft, watery [diarrhea], mucus or blood in the stool), stool color has changed, the dog appears to have less control of his muscles (sudden urge to eliminate and inability to wait), stool passing appears to be painful, or the dog lacks awareness of its elimination (stool dropping out while walking or lying down).
Any treatment your dog is given will be entirely dependent on the underlying condition that is found.
When There Is No Medical Condition – Other Causes For House Soiling
Once your doctor has ruled out any medical issues, behavioral issues will be looked at in closer detail. Behavioral treatment will be based on whether your dog is marking, losing control when excited or frightened, or intentionally soiling the floor. You will need to review your original house-training techniques to determine where they might have been lacking. Going back to basic puppy house-training is the first step.
If you do not believe this to be an issue of house-training – your dog was predictable until recently – you will need to review all of the changes that have occurred in your dog’s life. Has there been a move, a change in routine or schedule, a change in diet, more people in the home – guests or new family members, or conversely, loss of a family member – a new pet or the loss of a pet? These are just some of the issues that can cause a dog to feel anxious, and anxiety can lead to inappropriate behaviors, including soiling in the house.