I cannot imagine how grossed out you must have felt when you saw your dogs drink their urine for the first time! Read the complete blog post to understand the causes behind such behavior and how to rectify it.
The condition in which dogs drink their urine can either stem from a physical discomfort or a behavioral problem. The first step in dog care is to rule out any possible medical conditions which may force your dog to dink his own urine. If their is no associated medical reason for this behavior, then it most likely is stemming from a behavioral issue. To address this problem, you must first understand the causes behind why do dogs drink urine?
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Why do dogs drink their urine:
As I mentioned earlier, drinking their own pee in dogs can be a result of an ongoing physical problem or a psychological issue.
To diagnose any underlying medical issue, pay a visit to your veterinarian. If your dog drinks pee due to an underlying health problem, your dog will be checked and provided medications to rectify the underlying disease.
Let’s start with understanding the medical factors which might be the cause behind why dogs drink their urine:
If your dog does not have enough supply of water and is suffering from dehydration, they will go to the closest source to receive hydration, even if that is their own urine. Dogs have not been observed to drink their own urine if they are adequately hydrated.
A new puppy needs several reminders of the location of the water bowl before they remember. If they forget the location of their bowl, they may drink their own urine. Older dogs suffering from dementia may also drink urine if they forget the location of their water bowl.
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This is a rare disease observed in dogs. It is caused by the formation of tumor in the pituitary gland of your dog, the primary symptoms of this disease are excessive urination and uncontrolled thirst. The need to urinate frequently causes a buildup of pee in the house and the excessive thirst will cause your dog to lap up his or her own urine to overcome the thirst.
Urinary tract infection (UTI)
Suffering from UTI is a common occurrence in dogs. The most common symptoms of this disease are blood in urine, fever, frequent urination and accidental urination indoors. If your dog is suffering from UTI, they will constantly feel thirsty. Thus, your dogs drink their own urine since it is the easiest source of hydration available. There will also be peeing accidents, thus boosting the availability of urine in the house.
Dogs drinking own urine and urinary incontinence is a common behavior observed in dogs of advanced ages of both sexes especially neutered females. This problem can occur due to a wide variety of reasons, a few of them being: urinary tract problems, urinary bladder infection etc. If these conditions are ignored or left untreated, thy will cause large amounts of urine to leak from the bladder when the dog lays down.
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Lack of enough nutrition in diet
It has been observed that dogs drink their urine or poop when there is lack of proper nutrition in their diet. This may arise from feeding your dog food, not meant for dogs or not providing him or her with adequate amount of vitamins, minerals or superfoods. If this is the case, then you must discuss with your vet regarding the same and add multivitamins to the diet and stop giving your dog food items which are not healthy for him or her.
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Other potential medical reasons:
If you pup is drinking his own urine due to being thirsty, increasing the water quantity should eliminate the problem. However, if your dog is excessively thirsty, veterinary attention may be needed. Excessive thirst or polydipsia may be caused due to underlying conditions like hepatic diseases, kidney malfunction as well as congenital diseases like diabetes.
Other few potential medical issues behind uncontrolled thirst may be side effects of a medicine, deficiency of protein in your dog’s diet, or old age.
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Now that you have understood the physical or underlying medical causes behind such behavior, it it time to have a look at all behavioral issues which can give rise to this behavior:
Flehmen reaction is considered as a normal behavior amongst animals. In case of dogs, this reaction dogs drinking urine released by another dog. Following this, the dog might freeze for a slight moment while the tongue is held in an extended and curled position. This allows the dog licking the urine to place the other dog’s scent at a region which is located behind the upper front teeth. At this specific zone, the two ducts lead to vomeronasal organ. This organ has been observed to play a crucial role in pheromonal influences on animals.
No place to urinate:
If your dog is housebroken, they are used to going outside to conduct their personal business. How we, if your dog is at home for long hours with no one available to take them out, they will pee wherever they choose. Since your dog is house trained, he or she will recognize this as unwanted behavior and may try to lick up the urine as a way to hide or get rid of the evidence.
Some dog guardians have a backyard which can be freely accessed by the dog. Under such conditions, the pup can go out when needed. Even in the presence of a doggy door, some dogs may feel uncomfortable using it to get out and may pee on the floor itself.
Your dog is not housebroken or is under training:
It is common for pups to have accidents when they enter a new home. A few accidents must be expected by dog guardians during the initial training period. Your dog may feel embarrassed by peeing indoors and may try to eliminate the evidence by drinking the urine.
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Raised in puppy mills:
Puppy mills are the places where the dogs are bred for the purpose to selling their puppies. The living conditions in puppy mills are inhumane as the pups are often kept locked in small cages or boxes. The pups are fed inside their cages. They are not even led out to poop or pee. Thus, puppies may learn to eat their own poop or drink their own urine as no one taught them otherwise. Another cause might be the absence of adequate amount of water.
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Effects of a previous abuse
If the dog grew up on streets or lived with people who abused him or her, their is a high chance of the dog drinking his or her own urine. dogs who grow up in the streets face scarcity of water. The absence of water may force the dog to drink his or her own urine.
Furthermore, dogs who are punished for peeing at the wrong place may develop this habit as a means to remove the evidence from the scene of the crime.
Just like humans, dogs can also pick up bad habits. A few of these are barking at mailman, chasing cars, barking at other people etc. However, these behavior may also include peeing indoors. If your dog is exhibiting such behavior, do not scold him or her. Scolding your dog for bad habits only want them to hide the said habit from your eyes leading to the exhibiting the behavior but learning to hide the evidence. Thus, for peeing indoors, consider retraining your dog with positive reinforcement.
This reason may seem highly bizarre to a lot of dog guardians. However, some puppies have been observed to actually enjoy the taste of urine and thus prefer to drink urine over fresh water even when the later is available.
To understand the opposite sex:
Urine provides a lot of information to dogs. Some male dogs may taste the urine of female dogs to decipher if the latter is in heat.
Now that we have uncovered all potential causes behind dogs licking their own urine, its time to know and understand how this behavior can be corrected.
Licking vs drinking urine
If your dog is indulging in licking urine of other dogs on some occasions, then you need not worry about the behavior. Your dog is most likely trying to collect some information about the other dog. However, if your dog is lapping or drinking the urine, whether it is his own or of any other dog, it is a cause for concern and must be addressed as soon as possible
Your dog wont get sick from drinking his or her own pee. However, drinking pee in the presence of fresh water is not a good habit and therefore, must be eliminated.
If you are worried about the harmful bacteria in the urine, then rest assured, evolution has caused dogs to have better filtration systems than humans. They have the ability to sterilize the urine post consumption.
STOP THE BEHAVIOR:
A few considerations which can be taken into account by a dog guardian facing the pee drinking problem are as follows:
- Provide enough water to your dog
- Redo house training with your dog
- Reinforce good behavior with ample rewards
- Say a stern NO when the inappropriate behavior is exhibited
- Provide your dog with an easy access to the backyard through a doggy door so that your dog can easily pee outside
- Get a complete wellness check done for your dog to rule out any underlying medical conditions.
If your dog is a puppy mill survivor, chances are he or she picked up the bad habit from the unfortunate environment of the mill. You may also face some difficulty in house training your pup. The key ingredient needed to train your pup will be patience. No dog is untrainable. It’s the humans who may lose patience before time. So give yourself and your dog time to learn the new behavior. Never use any form of negative reinforcement on your pup. A ton of positive reinforcement and patience will bring your dog on the right track.
Another tip which may come in very handy is is to always clean up the accident as soon as it occurs. Do not leave the urine to dry out and do not use white vinegar or bleach to clean the urine. Firstly, bleach or vinegar may cause carpet or hardwood floor discoloration. Secondly, the smell of ammonia will lure your dog back to the spot as the smell is similar to your dog’s urine.
To clean up your dog’s urine, it is preferable to use enzyme based cleaners. These types of cleaners work by breaking down the Uris acid and protease in your dog’s urine. They also disinfect the floor of any bacterial contamination. Other options for floor cleaning are using a mixture of hydrogens peroxide and baking soda or water which is great at neutralizing odors.
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Give your pup more ME time:
Take your pup out more frequently so that all the urination happen outside the house rather than inside. If you cannot afford to take out dog out, you can hire a dog walker. They will only come to take your dog out to pee and poop. This is a great option if you work long hours daily.
Take your dog out before you leave for work and immediately after you come back from work. The purpose here is to not give your dog any chance to pee at a place where the urine might be accessible at later points of time.
Never scold or punish
Yes! Your dog has a bad behavior. But will punishing the dog or scolding him solve the issue? No! Scolding or punishing the dog will never solve the issue. It can however, make the problem worse than before.
You must understand dogs don’t understand scolding. If the pooch does not understand what he or she is being scolded for, then what’s the point? If you keep scolding and punishing him, it may cause your dog to become aggressive and stop following other instructions as well.
Thus, the only correct path of action to be chosen by the guardian here is to stay calm, clean up the pee as soon as it is spotted and re-train the dog. This method is more effective and it will rid your dog of this behavior as well.
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Some final tips:
- You can have a designated spot covered with puppy pads and train your dog to go there if the option to go out is not available.
- You can also train your dog to use talking buttons so they can relay to you their reason for wanting to go out.
- You can teach your dog to use the pee and poo bell. Teach them to ring the bell when they need to pee or poop. Always take them out once before retiring for the night. This increases the chance of your pup not peeing or pooping in the house during sleep time.
- If your dog is exhibiting such behavior out of boredom, then your dog is in need of mental stimulation. Check out this post on how to make homemade dog toys to stimulate your pup mentally and keep them busy for a long time.
- If you are going to be out for long, hire a dog walker or dog sitter, so that your dog can maintain his or her routine of going out at the right time.
- If your dog had an accident in the house, do not scold him or her. Instead take him or her out as son as possible.
- Treat your dog like a world famous celebrity when they exhibit good behavior.
- Monitor the color of your dogs pee. A dark urine is a sure sign of dehydration in dogs.
- Make sure your dogs know where the water bowls are located in the house.
- If your dog suffers from urinary incontinence, you can make him or her wear a diaper or belly bands.
- Last but not the least, understand the underlying cause of this behavior before you try to correct it.
- Never scold the dog for peeing at inappropriate places. Quickly clean up the place and focus on retraining.
- Do dogs drink their own urine?
- Why do dogs drink urine of other dogs?
- The physical causes behind dogs drinking their own urine
- The psychological causes behind dogs drinking their own urine.
- Is it bad for dogs to drink their own urine?
- How to train your dog to not drink its own urine?
We try to use the best possible dog care methods to care for our pups. Yet, when such incidences happen we are bound to feel a little low. However, the good thing here is that dogs can always be retrained. A little patience, treats and training can fix all behavioral problems in dogs.
Do your dogs drink their urine? Have you figured out the reason behind the same like puppy mills or underlying medical condition? How did you make him or her get rid or such behavior? If you wish for your story to be featured on my blog, subscribe to the blog newsletter and drop me an email. I’d love to put up your story/anecdote on my blog.
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Frequently asked questions:
1. Why do dogs lick the pee of their puppies?
A mother dog will lick the puppy’s pee region to cause stimulation, so as to stimulate the process of pooping and peeing in puppies. This is also a way for the mama dog to bond with her pups. It is the mother’s responsibility to be the primary care taker of the puppies.
2. Do dogs drink their own urine at night?
It may seem that dogs engage in the behavior of drinking their own urine more at night times. However, this happens only in case the water bowl does not have enough water in it.
Other causes behind such behavior might be the presence of underlying medical condition, abuse by previous owner, young age spent in puppy mills etc.
3. Can dogs get sick from drinking pee?
It is unlikely that you dog will fall sick after drinking his own pee. However, their is a chance that your dog may fall sick if he drinks the pee of an other puppy suffering from an infectious disease.
4. Why do dogs drink other dog’s urine?
Licking the other dog’s urine helps a dog process the information about the other dog. This is referred to a Flehmen reaction.
5. How do I stop my dog from drinking pee?
- Clean up the mess as soon as possible
- Never scold your dog for bad behavior.
- Re-start the house training process.