When my old dog Chester turned 14, he started to slow his age by slowing down and peeing in the house.
At about 10 years of age, my old girl Gretel started leak in her sleep. And I am not talking just a few dribbles.
My guess is that you found this article because you are experiencing the same thing – unexpected potty messes in the house.
You’re frustrated and wondering how you are going to deal with it.
Note: This updated article was originally published on September 30, 2015
I get it.
We love our dogs that have been with us for the ups and downs of life for such a long time but it can be very frustrating when you are constantly cleaning up after your old dog and your house starts to smell of dog pee.
There were many times over Chester’s last years that I had to pull deep from my well of patience and try to find new management solutions to our problem.
You see, it’s not usually a lack of potty training that causes an old dog who was previously potty trained to start having accients on the floor.
Why Your Old Dog Might Start Peeing on the Floor
In most cases, your old dog can’t help peeing on the floor.
One of the most common reasons your old dog may start having accidents on the floor is due to incontinence.
As dogs age, the bladder muscles can become weak and they can’t hold it like they used to.
This is especially true of females that have been spayed.
It’s so common that there is a term for it – spay incontinence.
Dogs experiencing incontinence often pee on the floor, furniture, or their bed while sleeping because this is when their bladder muscles are most relaxed, allowing urine to leak out.
I say leak, but in my experience it is usually a pretty big puddle when this happens.
Your old dog may be peeing on the floor because they have a physical ailment that makes it really hard for them to hold it.
Your dog may not feel like they have to go until suddenly they do. Like now!
They can’t physiucally help peeing on the floor right that instant.
Common physical ailments that can result in your senior dog urinating on the floor include:
- Cushing’s disease
- Urinary tract infection
- Bladder stones
- Kidney disease
If you suspect the cause of your dog peeing on the floor may be an illness or disease – which, I would if it were a sudden change – visit your vet to rule out a medical condition.
Dementia in dogs is a real thing.
In my old dog Chester’s case, this was the culprit.
When a dog has dementia – offically called canine cognitive dysfuction (CCD) and sometimes referred to as doggy Alzheimer’s – they can lose touch with their surroundings and become disoriented.
In this state, your dog may not realize they are still inside the house when they relieve themselves.
For some other dogs with dementia, they may forget their potty training and that outside is the appropriate place to go potty.
The reasons your old dog is peeing on the floor may be any of the above reasons or even something else.
The best thing to do when accidents start to happen regularly in the house is to take your senior dog to the vet.
Discuss the possibilities above with them in hopes of pinpointing the cause and see if there is any medication you can give your dog to try and reduce the frequency of potty accidents.
Honestly though, this may be a new behavior you will have to learn how to manage.
So what do you do when your old, senior dog starts to pee in the house?
What to Do When Your Old Dog Starts Peeing in the House
If your old dog pees in your bed, 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 big down blankets in.
Kidding, kind of.
First, what NOT to do
Seriously though, don’t do these things when your old dog starts peeing on the floor, furnture, or around the house.
PLEASE do not spank your dog if they have an accident on the floor
Assuming your old dog was 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, or a physical illness.
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. They’re not doing it on purpose.
Spanking is not going to solve the issue.
In fact, it can emotionally damage you dog because they likely can’t control what they are doing.
In some cases, they don’t even know they did it. They just know you are angry at them.
Really, the same goes for yelling too – it won’t help.
PLEASE do not give your dog to a shelter if they start messing in the house
I get it. Owning a dog that pees in the house is inconvenient at best.
At worst, it’s maddening.
You stop viewing your sweet old dog the same way as you used to 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?
Reevaluate the situation
First, be honest with yourself.
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 life journey together 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.”
Try to figure out the reason behind your dog’s potty accidents
Second, as I said above, you should take your dog to the vet so they can rule out a medical cause for the accidents.
In my dog Chester’s case, the vet was pretty sure it was just loss of bladder control due to aging.
However, incontinence medication didn’t help.
Ultimately, it was determined that he had dementia and was forgetting he was supposed to go outside.
Resolve to find a environmental solution to the issue
What I men by finding an environmental solution to your old dog’s indoor potty accidents is to find external, physical ways you can manage the messes.
Below are some ideas that can really help keep your house clean and save your sanity.
12 Things You Can Do To Manage Your Old Dog Peeing in the House
Constantly cleaning up potty accidents in the house can be frustrating.
For me, my frustration started out mild and would build until I thought I was going to lose my sanity.
Admittedly, when I reached this point, I felt like there wasn’t anything else I could do and I would get angry.
But then I would have a moment of clarity, find patience when I thought I didn’t have anymore, and resolve to try something new to manage the issue.
Below are the things I discovered that would make it easier to clean up after my dog and would help me stop being frustrated with him.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links (Amazon Associate or other programs we participate in). As an affiliate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.
1) Get Some Dog Diapers
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 my old dog because I barely had to worry about him going potty in the house anymore.
He could go whenever he felt like it but the diaper would catch his pee before it hit the floor.
Note: you should change the diaper once it’s wet to prevent a urinary tract infection or rash.
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.
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 discovered that, since my dog Chester was in-between belly band 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.
Note: I have more trouble keeping female diapers on my girl than male wraps on my boy
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 being outside.
Because, depite dog diapers, accidents can still happen in the house 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’.
And no wool rugs! Once they are pee stained, it’s almost impossible to remove the spot.
3) Buy a Cover for Your Couch
If you do already have a nice couch, or furniture, you probably want to invest in a couch cover.
In my experience, it can be difficult 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.
The one that works the best for us is this waterproof couch cover with rubber grips on the back.
I have two so I have a fresh one when the first gets soiled and needs to be washed.
I’ve owned one of them for over 5 years and it’s still waterproof even after at least 50 washes.
Since Gretel’s issue is releasing her bladder when she is sleeping, and we almost always snuggle on the couch in the evening, the couch cover is my most-needed accident “defense” with her.
4) Use a Lot of Towels
During the time my old dog was peeing on the furniture frequently, I laid down towels on top of the couch cover and then lay a blanket on top of those.
This extra layer will help catch pee before it can penetrate a couch cover or pool and run off onto the floor.
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) Put Potty Pads Under Your Area Rugs
I taped potty pads to the underside of my area rug before I laid 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 pads will absorb the dog pee that soaks through the rug, and will also absorb the carpet cleaner that soaks through when you are getting rid of the mess, so it can’t damage your floors..
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.
Also, you may only need to replace the dirty ones.
These reusable dog potty pads look like a great, environmentally friendly option.
7) Stick with Washable… Everything
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) Protect Your Mattress
While we are on bedding, get a waterproof and stain-resistant mattress cover.
They are way cheaper than having to replace a mattress.
A pillow cover doesn’t hurt either.
9) Buy Carpet Stain and Odor Remover in Bulk
Always have a pet soil and odor cleaner for carpet handy along with plenty of paper towels.
My favorite carpet cleaners for pet stains are:
- Nature’s Miracle Advanced Stain & Odor Remover – this was my favorite for years and I still use it often.
- The citrus scented Biokleen Bac-Out Pet – I switched to this one because I eventually got sick of the Nature’s Miracle smell when using it so much. 5 years later, I’m still not tired of this smell.
- I’ve also used the Skout’s Honor Stain & Odor Severe Mess too.
If you have wood floors, don’t forget to check under the rugs for dampness once you are done cleaning it.
As I said above, I like to put down a potty pad to soak up extra moisture from the rug while it dries.
10) Put Potty Pads Everywhere
Place potty pads under the dog beds around the house and under anything else they might pee on.
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) Pee-Proof Your Car
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.
Also keep plenty of towels in your trunk.
It’s a good idea to put one under your dog wherever they are sitting like on top of the car seat cover so it soaks up the pee even before it gets to the car seat cover.
12) Keep All Your Old Towels
You’ll go through a lot “dog towels” cleaning up messes. I have about 10.
I didn’t have many old ratty towels when this issue started so I took the opportunity to buy myself some nice new ones and bump the current ones into the dog towel stack.
Final Thoughts About Your Old Dog Peeing in the House
I know it’s frustrating to have to clean up after your dog all of the time.
I spent the first few months after my senior dog Chester started peeing in the house huffing and puffing about it.
But then I changed my attitude.
Cleaning up after him is just part of my life as a (senior) 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.
(Note: eventually his dementia got too much and I had to let him go. You can read about that agonizing decision HERE if you’r ebrave enough.
Have you ever dealt with a senior dog that was once potty trained and started going in the house?
About the Author
Hi, I’m Jessica. I’ve been studying the Dachshund breed since 2007, owned 3 of my own, and shared in the lives of thousands of others through their owner’s stories. When I’m not sharing what I know on this blog, you can find me hiking, camping, and traveling with my adventurous wiener dogs.