Urine and bladder problems in dogs


  • There are a number of different urine and bladder problems that can affect dogs.
  • They tend to cause symptoms such as blood in the urine, difficulty peeing, incontinence and increased thirst.
  • Contact your vet if your dog has symptoms of a bladder problem.
  • Contact your vet ASAP if your dog is unable to pee – this could be a life threatening condition

Signs and symptoms

If your dog has a problem with their bladder, you are likely to notice one or more of the following symptoms:

Types of bladder problem

There are a number of different urine and bladder conditions that can affect dogs, some of the most common are listed below:

UTI (Urinary Tract Infection)

Dogs with urine infections or cystitis tend to have blood in their urine, wee more often than usual, and leak small amounts of strong smelling urine.

Bladder stones

Dogs with bladder stones tend to have blood in their urine, suffer with recurrent UTI’s, and sometimes have trouble peeing. The stones sometimes pass in the urine, but can also cause blockages if they are large. Always contact your vet immediately if your dog is unable to pee.


Urine incontinence (urine leaking) can be caused by many different conditions, ranging from minor issues such as USMI, to more serious problems such as prostate problems and congenital abnormalities.

Bladder tumours

Bladder tumours tend to lead to more frequent peeing and straining. They can also cause blood in the urine and can sometimes even block the exit to the bladder, which makes weeing difficult. Always contact your vet immediately if your dog is unable to pee.

Kidney problems

Kidney problems in dogs can cause increased thirst, urine infections and more regular weeing.

Prostate problems

Prostate problems only affect males (because females don’t have a prostate gland) and are most common in older dogs. Prostate problems tends to cause blood in the urine, straining and pain when weeing. The prostate gland also sits close to the bowel so can also cause problems when pooing.

Burst bladder

It’s extremely rare for a dog to burst their bladder, but it can happen after a traumatic event such as being hit by a car. If your dog has burst their bladder they will have a very painful tummy and either stop peeing, or leak urine. A burst bladder is a very serious injury that left untreated, is usually fatal.  

When to contact your vet

Contact your vet for a check up if your think your dog has a bladder problem or if you notice any changes to their urine. , If possible, collect a fresh urine sample from your dog and take it to your appointment.

Contact your vet for an emergency appointment if your dog is unable to pee.


In the first instance, it’s likely that your vet will examine your dog and test their urine to look for common conditions such as a urine infection. If your dog has a more complicated problem, or doesn’t respond to treatment as expected, your vet may need to run some further tests to see what’s causing their symptoms. These tests may include x-rays, an ultrasound scan, blood tests, or even surgery


Treatment will depend on what’s causing your dog’s urine/bladder problem but might include medication, surgery or changes to their dogs diet. Some problems will only need treatment for a short time but other urine and bladder problems may mean your dog needs lifelong treatment or management.

Consider taking out dog insurance as soon as you bring your dog home, before any signs of illness start. This will give you peace of mind that you have some financial support if they ever become unwell. 

Published: August 2020

Written by vets and vet nurses. This advice is for UK pets only. Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst.