Why is My Pet Peeing Indoors?


It’s a pretty unpleasant occurrence, but peeing inside the house is an issue most pet owners have to deal with at some point in time. While it’s a common problem with puppies and kittens, the issue should subside once they’re properly trained. If your adult pet has suddenly begun passing urine indoors, however, there’s usually a basic behavioral snag or an underlying medical issue that’s causing the problem. In this blog we’ll take a look at some of the common issues for cats and dogs, with advice on how to resolve them.




Dogs tend to be excitable. You may have noticed. As such they occasionally lose control of their bladder and sprinkle urine when they get over excited about something or indeed, someone. This behavior is common when dogs greet their owner after long periods away, or when they receive new toys or treats. This is clearly symptomatic of your dog being really, really happy and is nothing to worry about – they just pee unconsciously, by accident. It is important not to scold your dog for inappropriate urination of this sort, as it could lead to anxiety and fear of meeting new people, new dogs, or new objects.


Known as submissive urination, this is when a dog has an unpleasant interaction or gets scolded by strangers or by their owner. This can happen with dogs of all ages and is basically their way of backing down from a threatening situation to appear as docile as possible. It can prove difficult to “correct” this behavior and scolding the dog further will only make them more fearful. One way to reduce this type of urination is to avoid grand, loud, or excessive gestures when greeting a pet after being away from them. Also, avoid leaning over the pet to stroke their head or pet them, as this can be intimidating. Finally, kneel down, avoid direct eye contact, and offer a treat from an open palm facing up when greeting a pet with this type of problem, as these are non-threatening gestures. If your pet won’t take the treat from your hand, simply leave it on the ground in front of the pet and recognize that the pet may be too anxious to greet you without urinating at that time. Solving this type of urination problem takes empathy, patience, and skill.

Lack of Training

If your pup has not been sufficiently housebroken then he or she will continue to soil the house even as an adult. In such cases it’s over to you to take the time to educate your pup on the proper etiquette and there are myriad training techniques:

  1. Hang a bell from the doorknob leading out of the house and ring it every time you take your dog outside. The dog will associate the bell with going outside and often after a short while will begin to ring the bell to tell you when he or she wishes to go out.
  2. Make certain the first thing you do with a new puppy when you greet him is take him out of his kennel (yes we recommend crate training… but that’s another blog, though) and immediately take him outside. Then praise him enthusiastically and vociferously when he does urinate or defecate outside.
  3. If you’ve lost track of your puppy for just a moment, chances are they’re hiding somewhere urinating or defecating. Be alert for signals from your pet that they need to go outside to do their business.
  4. Do not scold your puppy for eliminating in the house. Do not rub their nose in it, and do not yell at them after the fact. If you do happen to catch them in the act, simply say a firm “No!” pick them up and bring them outside until they urinate or defecate.
  5. For smaller dogs, some people use peepads placed by the doorway as a house training tool. Some dogs may become confused by this, however, so this technique has advantages and disadvantages.
  6. Recognize that it may take a while for a puppy to realize that he or she is allowed to urinate or defecate on snow or on grass depending upon which substrate they initially learned to eliminate (i.e. was it winter in Minnesota when the puppy was first being house trained, or was it late fall in upstate New York?). Patience in waiting for the pup to eliminate and praise once they do eliminate in the appropriate place are very important!

Marking Territory

Some dogs develop a habit of marking “their” territory by urinating in certain spots all over the house, sometimes as a result of stress or anxiety. And, if there are other pets in the household, they too can “join in the fun” by marking the same spots. Again, it’s over to the owner to correct the habit by providing the necessary training. Neutered dogs are less likely to mark territory. Females also sometimes mark territory.

A Medical Condition

Certain medical disorders cause dogs to need to pee urgently. If your dog is suffering with one of these issues, then he or she might be unable to make it outside in time. Some of these medical conditions include:

  • Urinary tract infections
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Renal disorders
  • Stones in the urinary tract
  • Side effects of diuretic medication or general incontinence
  • Cognitive impairment

Signs of a possible medical condition include restlessness, pain/crying during urination, inability to control urine, repeatedly licking genital area, drinking lots of water, frequent peeing. In such scenarios it is advisable to consult your vet as soon as possible for medical intervention – rather than scold your pet.




Cats are very responsive to stress factors in the household (new pets, loud noises, etc.) and new stimuli can be enough to trigger nervous peeing outside the litter box. It’s therefore over to you to work out what’s stressing your cat – did you move recently, adopt a new fur baby? – and facilitate appropriate adaptation to the new stimulus.

Problems with the Litter Box

This is a common issue but pretty simple to resolve. Check that your cat’s litter box isn’t overflowing or obstructed by any household furniture, ensure you clean it out at least once per day, make sure it’s placed away from your pet’s food and in a location that gives them enough space to go about their business in private. Another consideration is the n+1 rule. There should always be one more litter tray than there are cats in the household; so adding an extra tray may help resolve any issues – 2 cats = 3 trays, 3 cats = 4 trays and so on. Like humans cats love convenience and privacy, so don’t underestimate the benefits of an additional tray. Alternatively, the size and shape of the litter box may be the root of the issue. Remember cats need to be comfortable, and arthritic older cats should be able to easily get into and out of the litter box, so trying out different varieties may also provide a solution to the problem.

A Medical Condition

As with dogs, there are several common medical problems which can cause felines to inadvertently pee outside the litter box. These include:

  • Urinary tract infections
  • Cystitis
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Kidney infections or stones in the urinary tract
  • General incontinence
  • Cognitive impairment

If you notice any signs your cat has a medical condition (repeatedly licking genital area, pain while urinating, excessive thirst/drinking), it’s a good idea to book a consultation with your veterinarian. If your cat is straining to urinate and is in pain or discomfort, then it is a medical emergency. Your cat could be suffering from a complete urinary blockage, and failure to bring your cat to the vet immediately in such a situation can endanger their life. Your vet can perform diagnostic tests and provide treatment and/or medication accordingly. The most critical of these tests is a urinalysis. Your vet may ask you to catch a urine sample from a clean litter box filled with nonabsorbent beads or 1” x 12” strips of plastic bags. Collection of the urine is usually done by tilting the box to allow the urine to flow to a corner where it can be harvested using a syringe without a needle. Most veterinarians will supply a syringe cap and you can bring the urine sample into their office as soon as possible after collection. Alternatively, the veterinarian may perform a simple cystocentesis to collect the urine from your cat during an office visit.

The urinalysis is often done quickly and easily in the office in a matter of minutes, and results often indicate a cause for the problem, or at least provide a suggestion for further diagnostics.


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