Chester is 14 years young and he’s still “got it” in a lot of ways. He is spunky; He can out-hike a lot of dogs (and some people); and He’s certainly up for mischief.
However, he IS starting to show his age. He’s slowed down over the years and pretty has much has two speeds – plod along or no-go. He is grumps at us more than he used to for seemingly no reason sometimes (ok… most of the time).
He’s also started peeing in the house. I first started noticing it a year or so ago when big puddles of pee would appear on the floor. Then he started peeing on the bed in his crate, which is unusual for dogs because they usually won’t “soil their den”. Then he had accidents every couple of weeks, every couple days, and now he pees inside the house several times a day.
So what do you do when your old, senior dog starts to pee in the house?
Well, you jump up in the middle of the night to change your sheets and you spend a lot of time staring at this because your washer at home is an old agitator style you can’t wash down sleeping bags or big blankets in.
Seriously though, this is what you DON’T do:
PLEASE do not spank your dog
Assuming they were previously housebroken (or mostly), the cause is probably incontinence, loss of whatever it is that doesn’t alert them that they have to pee until it is too late, dementia, or a bit of everything. It could even be as simple as a urinary tract infection.
As much as we want our dogs to “love”us and “miss us” while we’re gone, they don’t feel human emotions (well, maybe those of a two-year old but let’s just say they don’t for the purposes of this issue). Your old dog is not suddenly peeing on the floor because they are mad at you or out of spite. Spanking is not going to solve the issue (it actually never does, but I digress). Really, the same goes for yelling too – it won’t help.
PLEASE do not give your dog to a shelter
I get it. Owning a dog that pees in the house is inconvenient at best. At worst, you stop viewing your sweet pet the same way and start getting really irritated with them (which they can sense)
You may be surprised at how many dogs end up in shelters for this reason alone. However, you owe your dog little extra effort in his or her old age for all of the loyal years that they have given you (and probably still are despite in-house accidents).
So what CAN you do when your old dog starts to pee everywhere?
First, be honest. We want our pets to live forever but you have to come to terms that your dog is now a senior and might start to lose some of their faculties. They may need help or special accommodations that they didn’t used to. You need to admit that maybe your routine is entering a different phase and you might need to make extra efforts to accommodate your dog. I found it helpful to shift my mindset to “I am lucky that I get to spend more time with Chester.”
Second, you should take your dog to the vet so they can rule out a medical cause for the accidents. In Chester’s case, medical causes have not been 100% ruled out (because I have to collect a sample during one of his spontaneous accidents – like that’s not hard or anything because he seems to always pee on a blanket) but the vet is pretty sure it’s just loss of bladder control due to aging. If you choose to go this route (we haven’t yet), your vet may be able to put them on some medication that will help with incontinence.
Here are 12 other things you can do too:
note: some of the links below are affiliate links, which means that we get a few pennies if you make a purchase to help support this blog (and we really, really appreciate it!)
Invest in doggie diapers or a wrap if you have a male dog. This can cut the house accidents down by at least 80% (see why it might not always help below). Effective doggy diapers literally “saved” my relationship with Chester. I barely have to worry about him going potty in the house anymore.
I searched for a wrap, or belly band, that didn’t slip around, and actually holds the pee, for a long time. I tried about 10 different brands and I seem to have found one that actually works. This is the best one I’ve found so far if you want something reusable that you can wash. The same brand makes girl dog diapers. No matter which brand you choose, or how absorbent they claim to be, you may want to line them with a sanitary napkin or Poise Incontinence pads. (the sanitary napkins are cheaper but I think the incontinence pads work better). I also discovered that, since Chester is in-between sizes, I had to order a larger size wrap to accommodate the pad.
If you want disposable diapers so you don’t have to wash them all the time (which is very handy when traveling), then get these dog male wraps from Vet’s Best. (get the diapers if you have a female dog)
Unfortunately, dog diapers or wraps are not a 100% solution. It’s possible for them to occasionally slip out of position as your dog moves around. Also, like in my case, I don’t like to leave the diapers on 24/7 to help avoid urinary tract infections. And sometimes I just forget to put one back on when Chester comes back in from inside. Because accidents will still happen, I manage the situation by doing these other things:
2) Don’t have nice things. Kidding. Kind of. Just consider that you might want to put off buying your first expensive, adult couch until after this period of pee-everywhere has passed. That goes for that beautiful, expensive cream Pottery Barn rug too. Just sayin’.
3) If you do already have a nice couch, or furniture, you probably want to invest in a couch cover. In my experience it’s hard to find one that is actually waterproof (but water resistant will do in a lot of cases) and even more difficult to find one that doesn’t slide around on the couch. Believe me though, it’s worth the extra effort of constantly fixing it.
4) Lay towels on top of the couch cover and then lay a blanket on top of that. You’ll end up washing a lot of towels and blankets but that’s better than having to replace your couch or pay for professional cleaning (which never makes it like new anyway).
5) Protect your floors while protecting your good rugs. If you have wood floors and already have a super nice, expensive area rug, you might want to roll it up and store it in the basement. You can get cheap area rugs on Amazon to use for now. Area rugs are also great for protecting your installed carpeting if you have it too.
6) Tape potty pads to the underside of your rug before you lay it on top of the non-slip rug padding (you definitely want that anyway, but especially if you are taping slick potty pads to the bottom of the rug). The pad will absorb the dog pee that soaks through and will also absorb the carpet cleaner that soaks through when you are getting rid of the mess. Unfortunately, you WILL have to change the pads often but it’s better than having a pee spot you can’t see soak into the wood floor and ruin it (it’s happened to me) or into the installed carpet. These are my favorite pads. These reusable potty pads also look like a great, environmentally friendly option.
7) Try to only use household things that are easily washed. Maybe, like me, you will have to haul your queen comforter to the laundromat once in a while but at least you don’t have to pay a ton to get it dry cleaned (which probably won’t get the pee out anyway) or throw it away. I have to visit the laundromat to wash our down comforter (or down sleeping bags if we have been camping) every couple of months anyway. Nature’s Miracle Laundry Boost is great for getting the smell out when things are extra stanky.
8) While we are on bedding, get a waterproof or water-resistant mattress cover. They are way cheaper than having to replace a mattress. A pillow cover doesn’t hurt either.
9) Have a pet soil and odor cleaner for carpet handy. Nature’s Miracle enzyme cleaner has been my favorite for years. However, I have to use it so much now, the smell is starting to make me nauseous. I’ve already used the Skout’s Honor Patio Cleaner and Deodorizer and liked it so I’m currently trying out their natural Urine Destroyer. If you have wood floors, don’t forget to check under the rugs for dampness once you are done cleaning it. I like to put down a potty pad to soak up extra moisture from the rug while it dries.
10) Place potty pads under the dog beds around the house. Take my word for it, you don’t want to pick up a dog bed and discover, unbeknownst to you, the bed was peed in and a wet spot has been sitting under the bed for a while…. ruining the wood floor in your rental house (sorry landlords. It was a leaky flower pot I swear).
11) Get a waterproof seat cover for your car if you take your dog with you. I have the Kurgo Waterproof Loft Hammock-Style Car Seat Cover and I love it.
12) Always have “dog towels” handy to clean up messes. I have about 10 and I keep at least 3 of them in the car at all times (hint: put some on top of the car seat cover so it soaks up the pee even before it gets to the car seat cover).
I know it’s frustrating to have to clean up after your dog all of the time. Chester has only been peeing in the house for the last year and I spent the first few months huffing and puffing about it. But then I changed my attitude. Cleaning up after him is just part of my life as a dog owner now. Getting mad about it was not going to fix it and it wasn’t doing him or I any good. Like I said, I am lucky to still have him around and I remind myself of that every time. That makes it easier to deal with.
Have you ever dealt with a senior dog that was once potty trained and started going in the house? Do you have any tips to share to deal with it and help keep your house clean? This is new territory for me so any tips or advice helps.