Tiny Bodies With Tiny Bladders
One pretty obvious reason as to why puppies pee so much is the fact that puppies are equipped with teeny-tiny bladders which can only hold so much. Once a young puppy drinks, the bladder therefore fills very quickly and even a small accumulation of pee will cause the puppy's body to expel it.
Just for sake of comparison, the bladder of a Labrador retriever puppy when full is about the size of a lemon, while the bladder of a Yorkie is about the size of a large grape.
Puppies also have high metabolisms, so it's quite normal for them to form a lot of urine quickly, explains veterinary behaviorist Karen Overall.
This means that puppies will urinate quite a lot! Indeed, it's not unusual for young puppies to urinate as often as every 15 to 20 minutes when they are awake, active and playing.
On top of having teeny bladders, puppies are prone to drinking a whole lot, especially when they are playing and active. The amount they drink increases based on diet (dry food makes puppies more thirsty), temperature and activity level.
Some puppies may drink more if they were deprived from water (e.g. stray puppies on the road) or when the puppies have been competing with their litter mates for water. This form of increased drinking is referred to as "psychogenic polydipsia" and is confirmed after ruling out medical problems.
A Matter of Underdevelopment
Once a young puppy drinks, even a small accumulation of pee will cause the puppy's body to expel it as a reflex action. Reflex action means that it is not under the puppy's control. In other words, it just flows out without the puppy realizing it.
This occurs because the puppy's brain is not fully developed and reflexively voids when it senses even a small amount of urine accumulation. In other words, puppies fail to receive the "I'm full!" signal to the brain, causing them to just pee straight away without seeking a proper place to potty.
Fortunately, this phase is just temporary. As the puppy matures, and undergoes metabolic changes, and as the nervous system becomes more developed, the brain understands the urge to pee. At some point, the puppy should be able to inform the owner of an urge to pee in advance, possibly by whining or going by the door.
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So at what age are puppies in general expected to have better control? Stanley Coren in the book "Born to Bark: My Adventures with an Irrepressible and Unforgettable Dog" claims that full control isn't attained until puppies are 5 to 6 months of age.
Possible Medical Problems
A common cause for increased frequency of peeing in dogs are urinary tract infections. These are known to cause symptoms such as increased urination, licking of privates, pain upon urinating and even blood in urine.
Sometimes, puppies may also develop urinary crystals which may feel as if they are passing little ninja stars through their delicate bladder lining. The symptoms may be similar to those of a urinary tract infection.
Puppies who drink and urinate a whole lot may be affected by diabetes. Another concern in a puppy peeing too much is a problem with the kidneys. If your puppy is not eating or playing much and acting lethargic, the excessive peeing may be due to acute kidney failure.
Puppies may develop kidney failure from eating something toxic such as antifreeze, a household cleaner or a medication, fore example. Renal failure is an emergency and therefore, if you suspect your puppy is sick, please take her to an animal emergency clinic right away.
On top of this, it is possible for puppies to sometimes be born with abnormal kidneys or some malformation of the urinary system. Ectopic ureters are not an uncommon anomaly of the urinary system and can be found in puppies displaying urinary incontinence. In this condition, there is an abnormal placement of the connections between the puppy's kidneys and bladder.
Did you know? Dogs are normally expected to drink about 1 ounce (30 mL) to 1 and a half ounce (44 ml) of fluid per pound of body weight. Anything more than that (make sure to keep into account as well any water "wasted" while the pup is drinking or when possibly playing with the water), under normal environmental conditions, may be considered abnormal.
Now That You Know...
Now that you have understood why puppies pee so much, here are a few tips to help you along the puppy potty training process.
- Mention the excess urination to your vet to make sure there are no underlying medical problems. Your vet may do a urinalysis and blood work to rule out some common conditions.
- Don't give your puppy the full run of the house. Instead, making him a "den-like" enclosure using an exercise pen or block off a section of your home and place on one side his crate, water bowl, food bowl and toys and on the opposite side some pee pads. When you cannot take your puppy out to potty, he should instinctively pee away from his sleeping/eating/playing area right on the pee pads.
- Keep track of how often your puppy pees. Create a chart of how often he goes so you can better predict when to take him outside to do his pee. Take him out a few minutes prior to his accident.
- When you take your puppy outside, give her some time to completely empty her bladder. Some puppies may need to pee about two to three times in order to empty their bladders. Failure to do so may lead to puppies who pee again once inside.
- Place pee pads right by the door to catch any urine that may leak as your pup waits for you to open the door. This will save you from cleaning a mess such as those times when you aren't fast enough to open the door.
- Pay attention to signs your puppy needs to potty.
- Avoid punishing/scolding your puppy for having accidents in the house. This will only lead to your puppy hiding to pee or poop.
- Use an enzyme-based cleaner to clean up accidents. The enzymes will eat up the odors and remove traces of potty accidents which may cause the puppy to pee on repeatedly. A black light can help you identify previously soiled areas that you may have missed cleaning.