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How Long Can Dogs Hold Their Pee?

By Aviram K.
January 26, 2021
4 min read
🏥 The information in this article is not a substitute for professional help.

We can’t always be there to help our dogs relieve themselves. We may be really busy at work or just doing other errands outside the house.

It may cause you to fear an accident will happen around the house since you will not take your dog out to urinate or poop when he needs to.

So, how long can dogs realistically hold their bladders and bowels?

As a general rule of thumb, dogs can hold their pee for about 1 hour for every month of age, plus 1, and for a maximum of 10-12 hours. However, it is recommended that adult dogs relieve themselves every 6-8 hours (3-4 times a day) when their bladders are about half-full.

The following table shows roughly how long a healthy dog should be able to hold it in. Take your dog out every couple of hours as recommended:

AgeCan Hold Bladder ForTake Out Every
0 months (Newborn Puppy)30-60 minutes15-30 minutes
1 month (Puppy)1-2 hours30-60 minutes
2 months (Puppy)2-3 hours1-1.5 hours
3 months (Puppy)3-4 hours1.5-2 hours
4 months (Puppy)4-5 hours2-2.5 hours
5 months (Puppy)5-6 hours2.5-3 hours
6 months (Puppy)6-7 hours3-3.5 hours
7 months (Puppy)7-8 hours3.5-4 hours
8 months (Puppy)8-9 hours4-5 hours
9 months (Puppy)9-10 hours5-6 hours
10-12 months (Puppy)10-12 hours6-8 hours
1-7 years (Adult)10-12 hours6-8 hours
7+ years (Senior)4-12 hours2-6 hours

It is important that you follow the recommended guidelines to avoid various health risks and discomfort for your dog.

I know the recommended times to take your dog out might be a bit hard to follow if you have a packed schedule. Don’t be discouraged, though. There are some solutions you can try if you can’t manage to follow them precisely. We’ll explore them down below.

First, let’s understand the variables at play regarding the time dogs can hold it in for.

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What Affects a Dog’s Ability to Hold It in for Longer

The general rule of thumb and the table outlined above is generally true. Yet, individual dogs may be affected by other things causing them to not hold it longer.

Age

Newborn puppies’ bladders are still tiny and not well developed, so they are not expected to hold it in for more than 30-60 minutes at a time.

As the puppies grow bigger and stronger and become adults (after about 1-2 years), their bladder capacities also increase. A fully developed adult dog should be able to hold it for at most 10-12 hours.

When adult dogs become seniors, at around age 7, their ability to hold it in decreases. They may start losing muscle control, have mobility restrictions or have age-related health conditions. All of which may make it harder for them to hold it in. Most senior dogs may need to relieve themselves every 2-6 hours, depending on their age and health.

Size

Smaller dogs have smaller bladders. Thus, they usually can hold it in a bit less than bigger dogs and produce less urine per day.

An average healthy adult dog produces about 10-20ml of urine per pound of body weight per day.

An average 190lbs adult Mastiff may produce up to 1900-2000ml of urine. That’s about 8-9 cups of pee a day.

Now that’s a LOT of pee.

As a comparison, an average 24lbs adult French Bulldog may produce up to 240-480ml. That’s about 1-2 cups only.

Quite the difference.

Food & Water Consumption

It goes without saying that a dog that drinks more water may pee more often.

When it comes to food, all else being equal, a dog eating kibble only will most likely need to pee less than a dog eating a raw diet or wet dog food.

The raw ingredients and wet dog food contain water, which helps the dog stay hydrated.

That is great, though. Please don’t avoid giving your dog water and healthy food items because you want him to pee less.

Health Issues

Regarding health issues, your dog may have a more challenging time controlling his bladder if:

  • They have diabetes.
  • They are overweight or obese.
  • They are on some medications that encourage more frequent urination.

Individual Differences

Not all dogs are the same. Some dogs may get uncomfortable faster, even with the same amount of urine in their bladders.

So, if your dog doesn’t seem to hold up to the urine standards mentioned earlier, have a veterinarian rule out potential health problems that may be causing this.

If your dog is healthy, then you have no reason to stress over it.

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What May Happen If a Dog Holds It in for Too Long

If your dog holds it in for too long (over the recommended times), a few things may happen:

  • Increased risk of infections, stones, or crystals: As urine is allowed to sit in the bladder for long periods, bacteria may start building up. This can lead to an increased risk for urinary tract infections, bladder stones, and crystals.
  • Discomfort: Have you ever held your own pee for too long? From personal experience, there comes the point where it’s just unbearable and simply hurts.
  • More frequent accidents: Accidents are far more likely to happen if your dog left for too long and especially if he hasn’t been properly crate-trained.

To avoid all those things, do your best to have the dog relieve himself when his bladder is about half-full. This is about 6-8 hours for a healthy adult dog. You can look at the exact recommended times in the table outline at the beginning of this article.

What to Do If You Can’t Take Your Dog Out as Often

It can be very hard for a person working a full-time job to adhere to the recommended times.

Fortunately, there are many things you can do.

Here are some free options, although more cumbersome:

  • Bring your dog to work. It is probably not a very good option since not all workplaces allow this, which can definitely distract you from working efficiently. Still a decent option if you have no other choice.
  • Have a quick mid-day checkup. If possible, you can also quickly return from your errands outside after a few hours to check up on your dog and help him relieve himself.

If you are willing to spend some money to solve this problem for you, you can try any of the following:

  • Hire a dog walker. Have someone take your dog out. It could be friends, family, or a professional dog walker. This will have the added benefit of giving your dog some extra exercise, which modern dogs are often missing.
  • Place your dog in dog daycare. It is probably the most expensive option but will solve all of your problems. Having someone dedicated to taking care of your dog is great.
  • Use puppy pads or an indoor litter. Although it is generally not recommended, you can paper-train your dog and have him pee and poo inside the house on puppy pads or an indoor litter. This will save you the trouble of worrying about taking him out every couple of hours when you are at work. If you do this, make sure you still give your dog walks, as they are very crucial to his wellbeing.
  • Install a dog door. Only available to those not living in an apartment. A small dog door would enable your dog to get outside by himself. This comes with other problems, however. Only do this if you really trust your environment and your dog being out by himself.

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Potty TrainingNew PuppyCrate TrainingDog Training

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