Why Do Dogs Pee on Beds?

Adrienne Farricelli

Dogs pee on beds for their own good reasons. To better understand the behavior, it helps to put on your investigative hat and sort through several underlying causes so to go the root of the behavior and address it accordingly. Despite what you may think, dogs do not pee on beds on spite because of anger or to seek revenge.

If your dog pees on your bed, you are likely very frustrated by this behavior. Nobody wants to find dog pee where they sleep, even when dogs are considered like family. Bed wetting in dogs can have several underlying causes. To better understand this behavior, it therefore helps taking a deeper look into some potential causes, carefully evaluating where your dog's behavior may stem from.

Rule Out Medical Problems

If this is a new behavior, it's important to rule out medical problems. Underlying illnesses in dogs that are known to cause dogs to have accidents, include urinary tract infections, the presence of bladder stones or urinary crystals and kidney infections.

 Other conditions known to increase drinking such as Cushing's disease, diabetes mellitus, and kidney diseases are too a potential culprit.

In particular, urinary tract infections (UTIs) can cause dogs to associate peeing outside with the burning sensation commonly taking place with this condition, leading to dogs who may potentially urinate in indoor places such as beds, sofas, rugs, carpets and tiles. Dogs with UTIs will pee in small amounts frequently, will lick their private areas and may show presence of blood in their urine.

If your old female dog sleeps with you in bed, you are not imagining things if you feel a damp area in the night. Older spayed female dogs may develop a condition known as estrogen sensitive incontinence (ESI).

 This condition occurs with the loss of estrogen when the dog's ovaries are removed. Estrogen is responsible for maintaining the bladder sphincter in good shape, so when estrogen lacks, the sphincter becomes weak causing dribbling of urine often taking place while the dog is asleep. 

If any of the above medical problems are causing the peeing in the bed behavior, it's important to recognize that, until it's addressed, the behavior will be likely persist and even worsen with time.

Did you know? Steroids such as prednisone may cause your dog to drink more and pee more. If your dog was recently put on this drug and is now having accidents on the bed, then this is likely the culprit. 

A Matter of Hormones 

Intact male and female dogs (not neutered, not spayed) may be more prone to urine marking compared to the altered counterparts. Urine marking entails releasing small amounts of urine often after carefully sniffing a spot. 

Male dogs tend to raise their legs on vertical surfaces, while female dogs may prefer to squat, but this isn't a general rule of thumb. There are female dogs who will raise their legs too given the opportunity.

  Unspayed female dogs in particular tend to urine mark when they are coming into heat to advertise their sexual availability, however spayed and neutered dogs can urine mark too for the main purpose of leaving "pee mail" for other dogs to interpret. 

A Matter of Emotions

Certain types of emotions such as fear, anxiety and excitement can cause dogs to release urine. It helps to take a look at the body language and contexts in which the urination occurs.

 For example, if your dog is greeted by you when you come home while he's on the bed and he happens to urinate in this context, it could be you may be dealing with a case of dog excitement urination. 

If you happen to loom over him, look at him or scold him, while he's on the bed, it could be you are dealing with dog submissive urination which is particularly common in young puppies.

And then you have dogs who urine mark objects in the home such as beds due to anxiety due scary noises, being left home alone, the presence of other dogs in the home or specific people.

Incomplete House Training

As the name implies, incomplete house training means that your dog hasn't been fully potty trained to the point of allowing him full access of the house and trust. If you take a dog with incomplete house training to bed with you, don't be surprised to find a puddle in  your sheets.

You can't blame him though: it's not his fault if he has never learned how to completely hold it all night, especially if you haven't given him the opportunity to empty his bladder before bed time.

Now That You Know...

As seen, there can be various reasons behind why dogs pee on beds. The solution often varies depending on the underlying cause. Here are some general tips.

  • To rule out medical problems, see your vet and drop off a urine sample so he or she can check for any underlying abnormalities. You can easily collect your dog's urine sample by using a soup ladle while your dog pees. Your vet only needs a small sample, measuring about 2 teaspoons. 
  • Spaying or neutering your dog can reduce urine marking in both male and female dogs. Male dogs can wear a belly band to catch any urine released when marking.
  • Make sure to properly clean any urine marked areas off your bedding and mattress otherwise your dog may be attracted to return their and keep on urine marking. Avoid at all costs ammonia-based products which smell like urine to dogs. Instead, use an enzymatic cleanser which removes all the scent such as Nature's Miracle. 
  • Use a black light to look for any soiled areas you may have missed. Clean these up as needed.
  • If possible, prevent access to the bed. Close the bedroom door, erect a baby gate or place bulky items on the bed to make it inaccessibile. 
  •  Put your dog on a potty training refresher course. Go back to basics. Carefully supervise your dog and take him outside as needed, praising and rewarding outdoor elimination. 
  • If your dog must sleeps in bed with you at night and your dog has a clean bill of health, ask your vet if it's OK to remove access to the water bowl a few hours prior to bedtime. With an empty bladder, your dog may be more successful in holding it all night. 
  • If you are struggling, there may be some more complicated behavioral issue at play. Contact a veterinary behaviorist (DACVB) to help you diagnose and treat more urine involved behaviors. 
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