The causes for your dog peeing on the bed can be broken down into medical and behavioral. We run through what you need to know about both.
Signs that it may be a medical cause include sudden onset of the problem, dribbling urine without your dog realizing. Also, any problems with urination such as straining or increased frequency would fall under this category. There is more information on the possible medical causes below.
General lack of housetraining can be a cause of your dog peeing indoors. This is obviously more common in puppies. With any training, follow the golden rule of ‘reward the behavior you want, ignore the behavior you don’t’. Punishing the behavior of peeing inside can confuse your puppy into thinking you don’t want it to urinate or defecate, and can increase the anxiety around the act making the problem worse.
If they do toilet inside, remove them and place them where you would like them to toilet, then give a gentle pat. In conjunction with this, take your puppy outside regularly, and especially after a meal. When they toilet outside, quietly reward them with a treat or pat. Try not to get too over-excited about it. Read more about how to toilet train your puppy in this useful article.
If your dog is easily excited/anxious (the two can go hand in hand) then this can cause temporary loss of bladder control. This is common in puppies who are learning how to control their bladder and they can sometimes pee without knowing when they are especially excited.
If jumping on the bed is associated with anxiety or excitement for your pet, then it is best to ignore them if they get onto the bed. As with most behaviors, punishing your pet is fruitless, and can make the problem worse by increasing anxiety associated with being ‘caught’ on the bed.
If there is something else that is causing your pet to become anxious and they jump on the bed as a comfort mechanism, this may be the underlying cause of the peeing (as opposed to the bed itself). In this situation, it may be best to create an area your dog feels comfortable that is not a bed! But you also need to treat whatever is leading to the underlying anxiety eg. thunderstorms, separation from you, other noise, other fear of something etc.
Sticking to a daily schedule and good training can help to reduce anxiety. There are also anti-anxiety medications that can be very helpful and can be prescribed by your vet. A veterinary behaviorist is worth a visit if the problem is bothering you or is associated with other anxious behaviors. Any dog with even a hint of aggression should see a veterinary behaviorist ASAP.
Marking behavior is more common in cats, but certainly can occur with dogs. It is important not to punish the behavior, but certainly try to keep your dog out of the area where they are marking, then look to work with a veterinary behaviorist on the underlying anxiety or territorial behavior.
Especially if the behavior is new, it may be related to a medical problem. If you find urine on the bed after your dog has been sleeping, or your dog dribbles urine without knowing, it may be due to a condition known as hormone-responsive urinary incontinence.
This kind of urinary incontinence is more common in desexed animals (regardless of what age they are desexed). It generally responds to medications that work on the bladder sphincter. It is a good idea to treat as urinary incontinence can predispose dogs to increased water intake and urinary tract infections.
There are other causes of urinary incontinence other than the hormone-responsive type such as a congenital abnormality (in which case you would usually see dribbling urine from a young age), increased water intake from any cause, bladder stones, spinal injury, certain medications, cancer (rare) or a prostate condition.
Urinary tract infections are also a medical cause of inappropriate urination. Urinary tract infections can lead to inflammation of the bladder and a subsequent sudden urge to pee. Your dog may then simply need to pee wherever they are, and this may be the bed! Other possible symptoms of a urinary tract infection are more frequent urinations, straining to urinate, smelly urine or blood in the urine.
Canine cognitive disorder can be a problem in older dogs and is also known as ‘doggie dementia’. One of the symptoms of doggie dementia is inappropriate toileting.
Increased water intake will inevitably lead to an increased need to urinate and your dog may not be able to hold on for as long. There are multiple medical conditions that can cause a dog to increase water intake. Some of the more common ones are kidney disease, diabetes, incontinence as discussed above, Cushing’s disease, cancer, and liver disease.
If you are suspicious of a medical condition, the best thing you can do is take your pet to the vet with a urine sample in hand. Collect this sample in a clean container (or pick one up from your clinic beforehand) and ideally take the first urination of the day. Your vet will then usually be able to do at least a basic analysis in-house that very day, which will give clues as to what the next step is.