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I was talking to a dog owner today and they said that it is normal for a dog to be able to withhold from peeing for 8 hours or so. I used to live in NY City and there are lots of people with apartments that own dogs. For those that can't afford a dog walker, people will walk their dog before work and immediately after coming home from work.

My question is whether it is ok for a dog to withhold from peeing or is it uncomfortable for them?

  • Wouldn't everyone be uncomfortable if they were to withhold from peeing for that long? – D. Tunus Jun 15 '16 at 11:54
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    you do it every night when you sleep, which is what most dogs do during the day anyway – Ian Jun 15 '16 at 15:14
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As with most things, this depends on the dog. Elderly dogs, like elderly humans, often need to pee more often and want to drink more often too. This often means they need to urinate more often, and when they are not given an opportunity to do so, they may urinate in the house, or sometimes even in their sleep without realising it. For an elderly dog who has been house trained all their life, this can be quite distressing, to wake in a wet bed, as it would be for a human being. It can also result in skin problems.

Some owners withhold water to prevent this sort of problem happening so the dog can be left longer without wetting in the house.

I fostered an elderly rescue dog who had this issue, and the advice of my vet was that withholding water was both inhumane and could result in further health problems arising. In particular, dogs that are taking heart medication will need to pee regularly. This is because medication such as furosemide is designed to prevent fluid buildup by moving it through the body.

However, younger dogs can often hold their bladders for what seems like a very long time. My own saluki cross (aged 7) has currently been for about 18 hours without urinating. The door is wide open to the garden, and she could go out there if she wants, but it's been raining all day and she hates the wet. She seems to be able to sleep quite happily for a very long time without needing a pee break.

Some breeds of dog are better at this than others. Sighthounds have a reputation for being able to sleep uninterrupted for a long time, but the Italian Greyhound, one of the smallest, is supposed to be very difficult to house train, perhaps because of the small bladder size, and will need more regular breaks than a typical ex-racing greyhound would do.

It's probably a good rule of thumb that dogs should be given regular pee breaks unless it's clear they don't need them, and that owners should be aware that this sort of need may change as a dog gets older.

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  • This is good advice and I agree with everything said. I offer an anecdote to it: I had a young dog (1 year old) who developed several urinary tract infections. My vet told me that holding urine too long can cause a UTI. She was holding it for about 8-10 hours and I had several dogs in the past who could easily go much longer. But, as @Victoria said, "It depends on the dog". I have a daily dog walker now to take this dog out while I am at work so she doesn't have to go more than 5-6 hours without a break. – jalynn2 Jun 15 '16 at 16:58
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It's probably likely that your dog could hold their pee for that long, but would you want to hold your pee for 8 hours? If one day it's unavoidable, well that just comes with being a dog owner, but I definitely wouldn't rely on that statistic to leave your dog alone for that long on a regular basis without going outside to the bathroom.

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