Why can’t my dog pee?

As humans, we know how horrible it can be when you’re desperate for the bathroom but you just can’t go! Well, unfortunately, our canine companions can sometimes also struggle, managing only manage a dribble. Or even worse, nothing at all.

The vets at Joii want to help you recognise the signs of a bladder blockage in your dog so you can quickly seek help when they need it most.

What is a blocked bladder?

Anything which narrows the urethra can lead to a blocked bladder. This includes debris, crystals in the urine, stones, tissue, inflammation, muscle spasm or tumours.

Who's at most risk?

Some breeds are more at risk of a bladder blockage than others, this is because they’re more likely to form stones or crystals in their urine. These include:

  • Dalmatians
  • Yorkshire Terriers
  • Miniature Schnauzers
  • Bichon Frise
  • Shih Tzus
  • Lhasa Apsos
  • Miniature Poodle
  • Maltese
  • Chihuahua
  • Pomeranian

Older male dogs can also find it difficult to pee when their prostate gland gets enlarged, while obesity in dogs is also a factor.

Why is a blocked bladder bad?

Dogs are not able to survive 4 or 5 days without prompt treatment (never wait more than 24 hours before speaking to a vet if your dog is straining to pass urine) if their bladder is blocked as all the harmful waste products that are normally expelled through urine starts to build up in their bloodstream.

This causes vital organs like the heart and kidneys to stop working as they should. The bladder can even burst if it gets too full and a burst bladder causes peritonitis, which can also be deadly for our canine companions.

It’s important to recognise the warning signs so that the problem can be identified and treated quickly.

Signs of a blocked bladder in dogs

You may notice your dog getting into position to but struggling to get anything out. Other signs include:

  • Whimpering or unable to settle
  • Asking to go out more often
  • Taking a long time to pee
  • Being restless and agitated when trying to pee
  • Licking around the back end
  • Being off their food and being sick
  • Being lethargic

What to do if your dog can't pee?

Call your nearest vet! Your dog needs urgent veterinary care which will include:

  • Unblocking the bladder as soon as possible
  • Getting fluids into their veins to flush out the harmful waste products
  • Getting medicine to treat the illness
  • Finding and treating the underlying cause

Despite being a serious condition, the outlook can be good for your dog if they receive quick treatment and measures are taken to stop other potential blockages.

Recovery and reducing the risks of a blocked bladder in your dog

Unfortunately, once a dog’s bladder is blocked, it’s likely that it would happen again. There are a few simple steps you can take help prevent this including:

  • Make sure your dog has a constant supply of clean water
    • This will help dilute any urinary crystals
  • Keep them active and at a healthy weight
  • A change of diet
    • A urinary diet might be prescribed by your vet

Is your dog peeing more than usual?

Sometimes your dog may be unable to hold on through the night because their bladder is so full. They may even pee indoors. Our canine companions usually pee more because they’re drinking more, which could be caused by certain conditions that cause an increased thirst. For example, diabetes, kidney disease and heart disease. Be sure to seek veterinary help if this is the case for your pooch.

Urinary blockages in pets can be scary for everyone involved but quick treatment offers immediate relief. Always speak to a vet if you have any concerns or questions about your dog.


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