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How Long Can a Small Dog Hold Its Bladder Overnight? 7 Tips

How Long Can A Small Dog Hold Its Bladder Overnight

Are you worried about leaving your small dog alone at night?

What if they need to pee?

Are they going to hold it in?

Read more to find out:

  • The dangers of dogs holding their bladder overnight.
  • 5 factors to how long small dogs can hold their bladder.
  • 7 tips to stop your small dog from holding their bladder during the night.
  • And so much more…

How long can a small dog hold its bladder overnight?

A small dog can hold their bladder for 7-10 hours overnight. Regardless of the breed, their age can also play a role. A health condition, like diabetes or anxiety, can also affect how long they can hold their bladder. How much water is in their diet, and potty training are also factors.

How long can a small dog hold its bladder overnight? 5 factors to consider

#1: Age


As puppies are still developing, their bladder muscles aren’t as strong as adult dogs’ yet.

They need time to develop. That’s why pups need to make more bathroom breaks.

Potty training them at an early age can help strengthen their muscles.

And help them learn how to control their bladders.

Adult dogs

As dogs grow into adults, they can hold their bladder for the night.

Dog parents in a forum share that their dogs can hold their bladder from 7-10 hours at night.

And if they can’t hold them anymore, then they will pee.

If they have access to a bathroom during the night, they’ll go on their own.

Otherwise, they’ll wake up their dog parent.   

Senior dogs

But as dogs grow older, they hold their bladders less.

As they start losing their bladder muscle control. 

Though senior dogs of both sexes suffer incontinence, it’s more common in female dogs.

This is because as female dogs age, they start to lose control of the neck of their bladder.

That’s when urine can then easily leak out when the bladder exit is not fully closed.

To know if your senior dog has incontinence, symptoms include:

  • Damp legs.
  • Scalding on the skin.
  • The persistent smell of urine.
  • Increased tendency of licking their back end.

#2: Health

Aside from age, health conditions play a role in how long all dogs can hold their bladder.

According to WebMD, some of these conditions include:

  • Diabetes.
  • Weak bladder.
  • Urinary stones.
  • Cushing’s disease.
  • Prostate disorders.
  • Hormonal imbalance.
  • Urinary tract infection.
  • Anatomic abnormalities.
  • Inherited medical condition.
  • Spinal injury or degeneration.

A condition like diabetes can cause your dog to urinate more often.

As high blood sugar in their body causes your dog to drink more water to replenish its loss.

Also, dogs with urinary tract infections tend to urinate frequently.

Lastly, some medications can also make your dog pee more frequently.

One example is corticosteroids.  

#3: Anxiety

Anxiety Is A Factor To How Long Small Dogs Hold Their Bladder Overnight

According to AKC, dogs experience anxiety due to fear, separation, and aging.

Fear-related anxiety can be caused by:

  • Loud noises.
  • New people.
  • Visual stimuli.
  • Specific situations.
  • New environments.

Although they are temporary, this type of anxiety is common among dogs.

So if you see your puppy pee themself after hearing a car alarm at night, they might be experiencing anxiety.

While separation anxiety is estimated to affect around 14% of dogs.

It’s their inability to find comfort when they’re separated from their family members.  

This can happen whenever you need to leave them alone at home.

Like when you need to leave for work or go out of town for a few days.

While age-related anxiety affects senior dogs.

It’s associated with cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS).

Which can then lead to confusion and anxiety.

One symptom to determine if your small dog has anxiety is urinating inside your house.

Anxious dogs can work themselves up to the point they start peeing, even if they are potty trained.

#4: Diet

Another factor to consider is your small dog’s diet.

Dry dog food contains less moisture, compared to wet dog food.

While raw and wet food contains more moisture.

Thus increasing your dog’s amount and frequency of peeing.

Your small dog’s water consumption can also play a role in how long they can hold their bladder.

Obviously, the more water your dog consumes, the more frequently they’ll need to pee.

But consuming more water is better as it’s healthier for their urinary tract.

Also, foods high in salt and fatty proteins induce thirst.

If your small dog often consumes those types of food, they’ll also drink more water.  

#5: Training

If you’ve trained your small dog when they can pee can also determine how long they can hold their bladder.

Untrained small dogs or puppies can pee whenever they like, even if it’s inside your house.

But properly house-trained dogs will know when’s the proper time to pee so they’ll know when to hold it. 

Training your dog takes time and requires a lot of patience, praise, and even treats.

To train your small dog, you should establish a routine.

Dogs do best on a regular schedule, as it teaches them when is the proper time to do their business.

To do this, take your dog out at set times so they’ll get used to what times they’re supposed to pee.

It can be immediately after waking up, after eating or drinking, and before they go to sleep.

Pick a bathroom spot, so they’ll know that’s where they’re allowed to pee and do their business.

Don’t forget to praise and give your dog treats immediately after they’ve finished.

To teach them what’s expected of them.

You might also want to know: 13 Reasons Why Dogs Poop / Pee Inside After Being Outside

The danger of holding pee for too long

Peeing regularly allows your dog’s body to flush out bacteria and toxins.

As they build up in their kidney, bladder, and urethra.

Repeatedly holding their bladder enables bacteria to grow inside their urinary tract.

Which can lead to crystal or stone formation.

This can lead to crystal or stone formation.

And blockages that can develop into urinary tract infections (UTI). 

Symptoms to know if your dog has UTI include:

  • Fever.
  • Lethargy.
  • Vomiting.
  • Weight loss.
  • Severe back pain.
  • Accidents in the house.
  • Changes in their appetite.
  • A strong odor to their urine.
  • Bloody and/or cloudy urine.
  • Increased water consumption.
  • Licking around their urinary opening.
  • Needing to be let outside more frequently.
  • Increased amount or frequency of urination.

If left untreated, your dog’s UTI can lead to several medical problems.

Like partial or complete blockage of their urethra.

7 tips to prevent your small dog from holding its bladder too long overnight

#1: Don’t punish them for accidents

Whether your newly adopted puppy or small dog has just peed inside your house, just clean it up.

Remember to not punish them if they make peeing mistakes or accidents.

Puppies haven’t developed their bladder muscles yet.

So they need to pee more frequently than adult dogs do.

If you just got a new small dog, then they probably haven’t been trained yet on where they’re allowed to do their business.

Punishing your dog for accidents will only teach them to fear you.

They may even have to hide when they need to “go.”

Teaching them to trust you again will not be easy.

It’s not instinctive for dogs to do their business outside.

As long as it’s not where they’ll sleep, they will pee anywhere.

So you just have to be patient.

Set up a bathroom routine, and train them.   

#2: Schedule bathroom breaks

Schedule Bathroom Breaks

Training your small dog to not pee just anywhere takes time and patience.

Start with setting up a routine so they’ll know when they’ll expect to go out to do their business.

The general rule is, for every month old they are, puppies can hold their bladder for one hour.

While adult dogs can hold their bladder for 7-10 hours at night.

Now that you’ve determined how much your dog needs to pee, determine the time schedule.

Let your dog out into your yard when they wake up, after meals, and after playtime. 

According to AKC, try to keep the bathroom breaks at the same time each day.

So your dog can get used to the routine.

That way, you won’t have to worry about them holding their bladder again.

#3: Pee pads

If you don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night to let your small dog pee, you can set up some pee pads.

Pee pads are a great potty training tool for when your dog hasn’t gotten the hang of their bathroom routine yet.

They’re also great for when you’re worried about them going outside when you’re not at home.

To set them up, place the pee pads in the same spot so your dog knows where they are.

If your dog isn’t used to peeing outside yet, you can direct them to where the pee pads are.

If you see your small dog peeing somewhere they’re not supposed to, pick them up gently.

Don’t worry, they’re going to stop peeing, then put them down on the pee pads. 

If your dog won’t pee in front of you, leave them on the pee pad and come back when they’re done.

As your dog gets used to peeing on the pad on their own, you can slowly move the pee pads closer to the exit each day.

This will prepare them for their outside bathroom breaks in the future. 

To learn more about training your dog with pee pads, watch this video:

#4: Reward them with treats

When your dog pees where they’re supposed to pee, immediately give them a small treat.

Rewarding your small dog’s good behavior signals them that they’re doing what is being expected of them.

So keep the treats nearby when you’re potty training so you won’t have to rummage your cupboards for them.

Just make sure to get small-sized treats or healthy ones.

So you wouldn’t be constantly feeding them with junk food.

When you’re potty training outside, you can also give your small dog some playtime after.

Let your dog run or play around if you have a yard.

This teaches your dog that doing their business can lead to more fun. 

It’s important to remember to avoid confining your dog after they go potty.

This will teach them that pottying will end their fun.

This will make them want to hold their bladder longer and longer so they wouldn’t have to go back inside their cage.  

#5: Pee on command

You can also train your small dog to pee on command.

This will be helpful during bathroom breaks in the middle of the night.

So they wouldn’t have to hold their bladder for long periods.

When potty training them, start by using the same word when they’re in the middle of peeing.

And pair them with praises.

You can use “go potty”, or whatever command that works for you and your dog.

Keep saying the command when they’re peeing until they learn it.   

#6: Limit food and drinks at night

Make sure to give your small dog their dinner a few hours before bedtime.

That way, they’ll have plenty of time to go to the bathroom.

Just wait between 5-30 minutes after eating to take them to their designated bathroom.

If they drink a large amount of water before bed, take them outside before settling in for the night.

#7: Take them outside in the morning

Once you wake up in the morning, your first instinct is to go to the bathroom.

The same goes for your small dog. 

So first things first… take them outside for a bathroom break.

That way they won’t have to hold their bladder for a few more minutes or hours. 

If you have a fenced-in yard, you can also install a doggy door.

That way, you can train your dog to come and go when they need to pee during the day.

So you won’t have to worry about leaving them alone with no bathroom breaks.