Every dog owner knows the mental math that happens whenever you decide to leave the house. How long can you reasonably be gone before your dog needs to have a potty break? Could you push it a few extra hours if you need to? How long can a dog hold their pee, really?
The answer to this is—like most things—a little complicated. We can definitively say that adult dogs should pee every 6-8 hours, but many dogs can hold it much longer than this if necessary. Some dogs will need to pee much more frequently, which could be due to factors like age, health, or habits.
Here, we’re going over the various factors to consider when calculating just how long your dog can hold their pee, and sharing tips for managing potty breaks for your dog alongside your own life.
How To Know When Your Dog Needs To Go Pee
Owning a dog is a big responsibility, and requires you to incorporate their needs into your scheduling considerations. How often your dog needs to pee will be a major factor in how long you can be gone and may require you to get creative if you work full-time away from home.
While healthy, potty-trained adult dogs should know how to hold it, every bladder has its limit. Most important to consider are factors like age, size, health, and nutrition/hydration. For example, a healthy 4-year-old Labrador Retriever will be able to hold their pee much longer than a 4-month-old puppy with a bladder infection.
Let’s take a look at these factors independently.
Age is one of the most relevant pieces of information you have for determining how long your dog can wait to use the bathroom.
Puppies and young dogs need to go pee much more often than adult dogs. Puppies need to pee more because their bladders are not yet fully developed. Puppies are also physically smaller than adult dogs, which translates to less holding capacity.
So, how long can puppies hold their pee? Up to about 7-8 months old, puppies can hold their pee for as many hours as they are months old, plus one. For example, a 4-month-old puppy should be able to hold their pee for about 5 hours. At around 7-8 months old, dogs are old enough to start holding their pee for 6-8 hours, just like adult dogs.
There are dogs who can hold their pee for 10+ hours, but just because they can doesn’t mean they should. Here’s a quick guide to how long dogs can hold their pee by age, including how often they should pee on an ideal schedule and the maximum time they should wait to go to the bathroom.
How Long Can Dogs Hold Pee During the Day?
|Age||Ideal Potty Schedule||Max Time Between Potty Breaks|
|3 months (puppy)||Every 2 hours||4 hours|
|4 months (puppy)||Every 2-3 hours||5 hours|
|5 months (puppy)||Every 3-4 hours||6 hours|
|6 months (puppy)||Every 4-5 hours||6-7 hours|
|7-8 months (puppy)||Every 4-6 hours||6-8 hours|
|9-12 months (adolescent)||Every 4-6 hours||7-9 hours|
|1-7 years (adult)||Every 4-6 hours||8-10+ hours|
|8-12 (senior)||Every 3-5 hours||6-8 hours|
|12+ (super senior)||Every 2-5 hours)||4-6 hours|
Once your dog reaches their golden years and becomes a senior, they will naturally lose some capacity to hold their pee. For some dogs, age brings incontinence, so be prepared to manage more accidents with a senior pup.
Size & Breed
Small dog breeds will naturally have less capacity to hold urine and will need to pee more often than large breeds. How long small dogs can hold their pee depends primarily on age, health, and hydration, but it’s still good to remember that smaller bladders need to be relieved more often than larger ones.
Nutrition & Health
The type of food your dog eats and how much water they drink can also affect how often they need to pee. For example, if your dog eats raw food (high moisture) they will likely need to pee slightly more often than a dog who eats kibble (low moisture.) On the other hand, if your dog eats kibble they might drink more water than a dog who eats raw, and might need bathroom breaks more immediately after meals.
Your dog’s health is another important factor in how often they’ll need to pee, and vice versa. How often your dog pees can be an indicator of an underlying health issue. Adult dogs that cannot hold their urine and pee in excess could be experiencing urinary tract issues, symptoms of diabetes, and so on. If you notice that your dog is peeing more than usual, or struggling to hold their pee until scheduled potty breaks it’s a good idea to bring them to the vet for a checkup.
Benefits of Establishing a Potty Break Routine for Your Dog
One of the first things you should do when you bring home a new dog is establish a potty break routine. Dogs are remarkably good at picking up on a schedule, and many learn how to hold their pee naturally as a result of routine. Beyond using routine as a potty training tactic, there are plenty of other reasons to set and stick to a schedule for your dog to pee.
Having a potty schedule for your dog can help you make sure they pee enough times a day. Holding their pee for too long can be bad for a dog’s health, and could lead to urinary tract infections, bladder issues, and potty training issues down the line.
Dogs can quickly pick up unwanted behaviors if they aren’t receiving positive reinforcement for wanted behaviors. In this case, a dog who isn’t on a schedule and doesn’t get taken out regularly to potty may begin to pee inside. While this might start out of necessity, it can become a compulsive behavior and one that is hard to break.
Trust, Bonding, & Confidence
Routine is great for building trust and confidence with your dog! Think of a potty schedule as a chance for you to show your pup that you have their back and will take care of their needs. As your dog picks up on the routine, they might begin to work with you by “asking” to go out, or reminding you that it’s time for their walk!
This kind of bond not only feels incredible but can also reinforce potty training and keep your dog from having accidents inside.
How To Manage Potty Breaks as a Working Dog Parent
If you work a 9-5, or any job out of the house, really, you know the struggle of needing to leave your dog home alone. Fortunately, dog owners are creative people, and there’s always a solution to the problem if you’re willing to put in the effort. Here are a few ways you can make life a little easier for yourself and your pup while you’re at work:
- Puppy pad train. If your dog absolutely needs to be alone for longer than 6-8 hours a day, it’s a good idea to train them to use puppy pads. Ideally, you’ll designate a specific spot in your home for the puppy pads, but this technique can also work for dogs who need to learn how to pee on a puppy pad on the go or while traveling.
- Hire a dog walker or service to let your dog out or take them on a walk during the day! You can schedule these services ahead of time and make sure someone is giving your pup a midday potty break.
- Find a doggy daycare. With all-day supervision and the chance to play with tons of other dogs, your pup will have ample time to potty at doggy daycare safely away from your furniture and rugs!
How Long Can a Dog Hold Its Pee? FAQ
In case we missed anything, or you’re looking for a quick answer to a specific question, let’s go over some of the most frequently asked questions about how long dogs can hold their pee.
Adult dogs can comfortably sleep 8-10 hours at night without needing to pee, but they should be let out immediately upon waking up.
Dogs that hold their pee too long are more susceptible to urinary tract and bladder infections, future incontinence, kidney problems, and other serious health issues.
Some dogs are able to hold their pee for 12+ hours, but this isn’t something that should be done regularly or encouraged. Ideally, adult dogs should pee every 4-6 hours, with 8 being the upper comfortable limit.
Yes, as long as they are in a safe area of your home, you should be able to leave an adult dog alone for 8 hours. If possible, it’s a good idea to offer them puppy pads as an option or hire a dog walker to give them a break during the day.
To figure out how long a puppy can hold its pee, take their age in months and add one. For example, a 3-month-old puppy can hold their pee for 4 hours.
Adult dogs may pee inside for any number of reasons, including:
-Health issues like kidney stones, UTI, diabetes, etc.
If you are not able to manage the urination with a routine, positive reinforcement for peeing outside, and normal potty training techniques, you should visit a veterinarian.