Why Is My Old Dog Peeing In The House?

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Why Is My Old Dog Peeing In The House? - older black Labrador lying down. We only see his head and grey muzzle.
Why Is My Old Dog Peeing In The House?

Once your puppy is finally house trained properly, you might be thinking you will never again have to deal with the smell of dog pee around the house or the tedious ritual of cleaning up after them. 

So, when your older dog suddenly starts peeing in the house, it can be quite distressing.

Not only are you worried about returning to the constant smell and cleaning of dog pee, but you are also worried about why they are doing it and what it might mean for their health.

In today’s article, we will go through the main reasons why an older dog might suddenly decide to start peeing in the house again.

We will also look at some ways you might be able to discourage this behavior, depending on the cause of the problem.

Finally, we will share the best cleaning product available for dealing with dog pee, so at least you can minimize the smell within your home.

Remember, never get angry at your dog if they start peeing in the house.

They aren’t doing it out of spite. It is generally a sign of a bigger problem, and they just need your help.

QUICK RECOMMENDATION: Anytime our dogs or puppies have accidents in the house we use an enzymatic cleaner to thoroughly remove the smell. This ensures that they won’t go back to potty in the same spot. Our favorite is Rocco & Roxie Stain and Odor Eliminator.

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Why Is My Older Dog Suddenly Peeing In The House?

There are a lot of different reasons your older dog might suddenly start peeing in the house again as they get older. The best thing you can do is talk to your vet to determine the specific cause of your dog’s behavior. 

Sadly, when it comes to older dogs, this kind of behavior can be a sign of a more serious medical condition.

Below are some of the most common reasons why older dogs suddenly start peeing in the house.

Urinary Tract Infection

If your dog develops a urinary tract infection, this basically means their urinary system isn’t functioning properly, so they won’t be able to hold their pee like they normally would.

They will probably need to pass small amounts of urine regularly, rather than saving it all up for a trip to the bathroom. 

You can usually tell if this is the problem as their pee is cloudy in color, and it may have some blood in it.

Your vet will be able to tell you if the problem is a UTI, and provide treatment, or let you know if this is a sign of something more serious, such as urethral or bladder cancer.

Diabetes, Cushing’s Disease, Or Kidney Failure

While these medical problems are all quite different, they will all have the effect of making your dog extra thirsty and see them drinking a lot more. 

This means their bladder gets fuller faster, and they will need to go to the bathroom more often. They may simply not be able to wait the same amount of time they used to before needing to pee.

Thyroid Disease

Thyroid disease causes hormonal imbalances in your dog that can result in a variety of medical problems including weight gain, hair loss, and lethargy.

It can also leave them incontinent, and therefore, unable to hold their urine in. In this case, incontinence will probably be only one of a variety of symptoms you will be dealing with.

Estrogen Deficiency

This is a similar hormonal imbalance that can affect older dogs, especially female dogs that have been spayed. Again, it can leave your dog simply unable to control its bladder. They will pee without wanting to.


Dementia and other forms of impaired thinking that dogs can develop as they get older can also result in inappropriate peeing.

They can become disoriented and not realize where they are, and they may also lose the ability to control the bodily function and “hold it.”

Mobility Issues

While mobility issues won’t usually cause your dog to become incontinent, it can make it difficult for them to get outside in time to do their business. This may mean more accidents happening inside the house.

Emotional Issues

Dogs of any age may become unable to control their bathroom habits if they develop emotional problems such as fear of anxiety.

However, peeing in the house is often mistaken for “acting out” as a result of emotional issues, when in reality, it is related to one of the causes above.

Your dog is likely to show other obvious signs of emotional anxiety before they start peeing in the house.

Territory Marking

Again, dogs of any age may begin peeing in the house in order to mark their territory.

This is particularly common in male dogs that have not been neutered. But they won’t just start doing this for no reason. It is usually a response to a perceived threat to their space. It is often caused by the arrival of a new pet.

It is relatively easy to tell if this is the problem as they will only expel enough urine to leave a scent, rather than emptying their bladder.

They are also more likely to pee on vertical objects rather than just peeing on the floor.

How Can I Stop My Older Dog From Peeing In The House?

If you can stop your older dog from peeing in the house, how exactly you can do this depends on the problem.

If they have a urinary tract infection, it might just be a matter of a course of antibiotics. If they are territory marking, they probably just need a little bit of time to get accustomed to whatever new “threat” has entered their space.

Understanding the problem is the first step towards fixing it.

However, there are a few general things you can do that may help the situation.

Revisit House Training

While poor house training may not be the cause of your new dog pee problem, revisiting their house training can be a good way to get things back under control. 

This can be true even if the problem is a medical issue that has been resolved.

If your dog has spent a bit of time peeing in the house as a result of a medical problem, the idea that they should not pee inside the house may have been weakened.

Don’t worry; it won’t be like house training your dog from scratch again. But do reward your pup when they do their business in the right place to reinforce the idea for them again.

If you need advice on what to do, read our ultimate house-training guide.

Give More Bathroom Breaks

As your dog gets older, it may be that they are no longer able to hold it for as long as they used to, no matter how much they want to.

So, it is time to adjust their bathroom schedule. Make sure they are being let out to do their business more often.

If that is problematic during the night or when you are at work, you might want to consider some doggy diapers.

Consider popular disposable brands such as All Kind and OUT! or more environmentally friendly reusable options such as Pet Parents and Pet Magasin.

I would generally consider this as your last option. Firstly, your dog probably won’t like wearing them, so they might put a lot of effort into taking them off.

So, you may come home to find a destroyed diaper around your house. Secondly, you want your dog to live with dignity, so if you can avoid it, all the better. 

Clean-Up Thoroughly

If your dog does start peeing in the house, you need to clean up the accident thoroughly and not just for your own nose and health.

The lingering smell of pee can act as a signal to your dog that this is an appropriate place to go: they have clearly peed there before, so why wouldn’t they pee there again?

That is why dogs tend to go in the same place again and again.

It is also important for your own health because dog urine contains fairly highly concentrated levels of ammonia.

This can be a lung irritant when it is breathed in, and it is especially problematic if anyone in the house has asthma or allergies.

Don’t Punish

While your frustration with your older dog when they start peeing in the house again is understandable, don’t punish them for it.

It is not something they are doing on purpose to spite you. It is a sign that there is something wrong and they need your help.

Moreover, punishment just isn’t an effective strategy. Rather than learning that urinating inside is wrong, they are likely to learn the lesson that urinating in front of you is wrong.

So, they might just wait for you to leave the room to pee or even look for hidden places within the home to do their business. 

This just creates more problems as you don’t always know when they are doing their business, or you may need to spend some time seeking out the source of the urine smell.

Best Cleaning Products For Cleaning Up Pet Urine

For a thorough look at the best methods for removing pet urine from your home, check out our comprehensive guide.

But essential to solving the problem is to have a good cleaner that fully breaks down and removes the smell of the urine, as well as eliminating any stains, all while not damaging the flooring underneath.

For this, we recommend using either an enzyme cleaner or an oxygen cleaner.

Enzyme cleaners contain special enzymes that latch onto the bacteria left behind by urine and other substances and then diminishes that bacteria until it is virtually undetectable. 

Oxygen cleaners use an oxidizing compound that releases oxygen when it is exposed to water. This release of oxygen lifts stains and dirt off whatever surface is being cleaned. 

While there are many great products on the market, we have listed our top three below.

1. Rocco & Roxie Supply Co. Professional Strength Pet Stain & Odor Eliminator

This cleaner from Rocco & Roxie is an enzyme-activated cleaner that can be used either to spot clean new stains or as a pre-treatment on problem areas before a major floor cleaning.

It contains natural bacteria that activates when it comes into contact with stains and odors.

As well as working for urine, this cleaner is effective on other tough stains such as feces, vomit, and blood.

Nevertheless, it shouldn’t damage the underlying flooring as it does not contain chlorine or other harsh chemicals, which means it is also generally safe for humans to be around.

However, both you and your pet may find yourselves avoiding the area for a few days after cleaning, as the cleaner has a strong and sharp smell that can be a bit unpleasant until it dissipates.

But this can also be useful for discouraging your dog from peeing in that area again.

2. TriNOVA Pet Stain & Odor Remover

If you are looking for a natural and environmentally friendly cleaner for dealing with dog urine, then the TriNOVA is a great choice.

This is a plant-based pet odor neutralizer and stain remover that uses enzymes derived from plants. So, it is a highly effective cleaner without any of the harsh chemicals.

It works quickly, and you will see results within a couple of minutes of applying the formula to the area for spot cleaning. It is also an effective pre-treatment for carpets before shampooing or steam cleaning.

While the product will break down and eliminate odors, it also deposits a light herbal odor for masking in the immediate aftermath of cleaning.

This scent is much milder and less offensive than the scent of many similar cleaners.

3. BISSELL Pet Power Shot Oxy Carpet & Rug Stain Remover

This option from BISSELL is an oxygen-based cleaner; the active oxygen molecules quickly eat away at stains.

It combines this with a patented odor eliminator that will dissipate odors quickly, though the masking smell it leaves behind can be a bit strong for a few hours.

The formula also includes Scotchgard Protector, which will help discourage your dog from peeing in the same place again.

This is also one of the more affordable cleaning options, which can be important if you find that you need to buy a lot of it!


Does Dog Pee Smell?

Yes, dog pee does smell, but not usually immediately. You probably won’t notice the smell when they first pee. It will start “off-gassing” within an hour or two as it is exposed to oxygen, and that is when it starts to smell.

Can The Smell Of Dog Urine Be Harmful?

Yes, the smell of dog urine can be harmful to humans with constant exposure. It is strong in ammonia, which can aggravate asthma and allergies.

If you are constantly surrounded by the smell of dog urine, you may develop flu-like symptoms that can last several weeks.

Do Dogs Pee For Attention?

It is very unusual for dogs to pee for attention or simply out of spite. The fact is they have probably identified even more annoying behaviors that are even more effective at getting your attention.

Yes, this includes barking, jumping, and stealing your stuff and chewing it up.

The Verdict

There are lots of reasons why older dogs might suddenly start peeing in the house again. It is usually not that they have simply forgotten their house training. It is more likely a symptom of a medical issue.

It could be something simple like a urinary tract infection or it could be something serious, like kidney disease. The only way to know for sure is to speak to your vet and work together to diagnose the problem.

Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to punish your pet for these accidents. This is not something they are doing on purpose, and it is rather a sign that they need help.

Getting angry and punishing them can just make the problem worse.

Things you can do in the immediate term to help with the problem is to ensure your dog has ready access to an appropriate bathroom.

Install the flap or make sure you are taking them out to do their business more regularly.

Also, make sure you clean up any accidents quickly. The lingering smell of pee is not great for human health, and it is also a signal to your dog that it is OK to pee in the same place again; after all, they have peed there before.

Do you have any experience dealing with an older dog that suddenly started peeing inside?

What was the problem and what did you do about it?

Share your experience with the community in the comments section below.

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Why Is My Old Dog Peeing In The House? - Older black Labrador Retriever lying d
Why Is My Old Dog Peeing In The House?

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Why Is My Old Dog Peeing In The House? was last modified: December 31st, 2020 by LTHQ

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