Skip to main content

Why is My Puppy Trying to Pee and Nothing Comes Out?

Why is My Puppy Trying to Pee and Nothing Comes Out?

Let's face it: puppies pee and they often pee a whole lot, but a puppy trying to pee and nothing comes out or a puppy squatting and peeing only small amounts, may be indicative of problems. If your puppy is trying to pee and nothing comes out or just a few drops, something is therefore not right in the urinary department and your puppy will most likely need veterinary attention.

A puppy that keeps squatting to pee and nothing comes out is having difficulty urinating and this can be painful too. There several medical conditions that may causes this, but they all require veterinary evaluation and treatment. It's important to differentiate between puppies straining to pee and puppies straining to poop as they may appear similar. When in doubt, see your vet to play to it safe as either conditions can be problematic. This article only tackles puppies frequently squatting to pee but with little success.

puppy squatting and can't pee

Not a Matter of Territory

Many people assume that when their puppies squat repeatedly they are urine marking, but puppies are often too young to do this.

According to research conducted by Dr. Peter Borshelt, 50 percent of male dogs lift their legs by the age of 8 months, 50 percent urine mark by 13 months and 90 percent urine mark by 24 months of age.

While urine marking may seem like a behavior that is triggered by hormones, there's likely more to it than just hormones, considering the fact that dogs don't start urine marking right away when as soon as they reach puberty.

This suggests that urine marking is more a matter of reaching social maturity rather than the onset of hormones, suggests  John C. Wright a certified applied animal behaviorist in the book "Ain't Misbehavin': The Groundbreaking Program for Happy, Well-behaved Pets."

[otw_is sidebar="otw-sidebar-1"]

What's Normal, What's Not

When dealing with a puppy that is in the process of potty training, it's normal for the puppy to have accidents around the house. Young puppies have yet not developed those muscles responsible for "holding it," and with their tiny bladders, puppies need to pee sometimes even on an hourly basis. The moment the puppy realizes that she has to go, a flow of urine has already made it the floor.

Typically, the puppy's accidents are large or small puddles (depending on the breed, you can go from a small puddle to a puddle as large as Lake Erie) and purposely meant to empty the bladder.

On the other hand, it's quite abnormal for a puppy to urinate small amounts of pee frequently with tiny deposits and then perhaps even straining with nothing coming out. Therefore, if your puppy is trying to pee all the time or is straining, give him the benefit of doubt instead of blaming him for being hard to housetrain, and have him evaluated a veterinarian. There are chances that he is having a medical problems that warrants attention!

A Possible Infection

Puppies can get urinary tract infections, just like adults dogs do. And just like adult dogs (and people too!), puppies with a UTI will urinate more frequently and in small amounts, and the burning sensation of the urethra associated with these infections may cause the sensation of needing to go more often, but then little or nothing comes out.

The puppy's frequent squatting and producing a few drops and then nothing, is therefore more of an instinctive response to the burning sensation, which explains why only a few drops come out. Now, this explains all the straining!

Puppies with a urinary tract infection may also have blood in their urine and lick "down there" more because it burns and feels uncomfortable.

Luckily, diagnosis is pretty straightforward; the vet will simply take a urine sample and check for presence of bacteria. This can be done be simply collecting a urine sample while the puppy squats to pee or if the vet wants a sterile sample, it can be obtained through cystocentesis, a veterinary procedure where a urine sample is collected directly from the dog's bladder with a needle. This may sound gruesome, but it's not and many puppies hardly even notice anything other than the temporary pinch of the needle.

Scroll to Continue

Discover More

Screenshot 2023-01-26 135329

How Does The Wind Affect Dogs?

Wind can affect dogs in a variety of ways. Discover the several ways windy conditions may impact your dog and when to take appropriate precautions to ensure your dog's safety and comfort.

Screenshot 2023-01-24 185321

Can Dog Paws Freeze in the Snow?

Whether dog paws freeze in the snow is something dog owners may wonder about. Looking at sled dogs dashing through the snow can make it look close to impossible, but every dog is different.

A deep chest is taller than wide

What is a Deep-Chested Dog? All You Need to Know

A deep-chested dog, as the name implies, is a dog with a deep chest. As much as this sounds explanatory, a picture is a worth 1,000 words.

Generally, puppy urinary tract infections are easily treated with a course of antibiotics. Relief is often felt as early as 2-3 days. Clavamox is often the drug of choice for puppy UTIs. Unfortunately, there are no home treatments for urinary tract infections in puppies.

Did you know? Female puppies are more likely to develop a urinary tract infection, compared to males because of their conformation.

Awww.. so cute!

"A urinary tract infection is quite a common thing in a puppy. They are more prone to infections of all sorts because their immune systems are immature." Dr. Fiona

[otw_is sidebar="otw-sidebar-1"]

Presence of Stones

If your puppy cannot pee and is straining, there may also be chances that you are dealing with annoying bladder stones. Crystals or stones may collect in the puppy's bladder and lead to pain, straining and the inability to pee normally. Blood in the urine is also possible.

How can a vet determine whether a puppy has bladder stones? The vet will take an x-ray of the puppy's abdomen to check for presence of stones. An abdominal ultrasound may be more accurate in detecting stones, but it's often more costly.

Bladder stones can be present in very young puppies, sometimes as young as 6 weeks, especially in miniature schanuzers; however, in a puppy of this age the presence of bladder stones may be suggestive of a condition of the liver known as "portosystemic shunt." Something worth investigating in these young fellows!

Did you know? Urinary tract infections and stones often go hand in hand creating a vicious cycle. Bacteria from the UTI make the dog's urine have a basic pH, which paves the path to the formation of stones, the stones then cause further more irritation in the bladder which causes infections. Until the stones are not taken care of, the urinary tract infections will tend to persist on and off.

Awww.. so cute!

"Usually, when you see stones in dogs and cats less than a year of age they are almost always either: 1) infection induced struvite, or 2)ammonium urate, usually secondary to portosystemic shunt."~Dr. Vamvakias

A Congenital Problem

In some cases, trouble urinating in a puppy may be due to a congenital malformation either of the puppy's bladder or urethra. Congenital is the medical term used for something that is hereditary, and therefore passed down from one generation to another. A congenital problem may be often diagnosed by x-rays.

One of the most common abnormalities encountered in puppies is a persistent urachal diverticulum which can cause trouble urinating and chronic UTIs. Fortunately, this malformation can be corrected surgically.

The Bottom Line

As seen, a puppy who is trying to pee and just a few drops come out or nothing at all, is struggling with some sort of urinary problem. Whether an infection, stones or a malformation, the puppy should see the vet as soon as possible for treatment. While not as common in cats, some times bladder stones in dogs can lodge and cause an inability to urinate completely which is considered a medical emergency.

"Usually with just inflammation, there is some urine coming out (maybe not all the time). With a blockage, they tend to attempt to urinate more often, but no urine ever comes out. To complete matters, though, sometimes with a partial obstruction, some urine may leak out."~Dr. John


  • Ain't Misbehavin': The Groundbreaking Program for Happy, Well-Behaved Pets and Their PeoplePaperback– September 22, 2001 by John C. Wright(Author), Judy Wright Lashnits (Author): Rodale Books (September 22, 2001)

[otw_is sidebar="otw-sidebar-2"]

Related Articles