Thursday, March 8, 2018

Dog Longevity Survey Part II: How Important Are Frequent Potty Breaks to Longevity?

Everybody who took the survey agrees that frequent potty breaks are at least somewhat important. Are we just getting silly now? Did they really believe that or checked yes because it was listed? There was much less consensus on some of the other [controversial] issues. Here, we have a solid agreement.


Extremely important43.33%
Important50.00%
Somewhat important  6.67%
Not important  0.00%
I don't know  0.00%
Other  0.00%

Does frequency of potty breaks have an impact on dog longevity?


Holding urine for long periods of time, regularly, such as truck drivers have to do, does come with lasting detrimental effects. Our dog's lifestyles aren't all that different from truck drivers. Most of them are stuck at home alone, forced to hold it for long periods of time daily.

Constantly holding pee can lead to urinary retention which is the inability to empty a bladder completely during urination. Having pee sitting in the bladder for extended periods of time instead of washing the bladder walls as it comes through, increases risk of infection, crystals and even stones.


Inability to urinate can be deadly.


When a dog cannot pee at all, that is a medical emergency. The urinary tract can be obstructed by crystals or stones, due to urinary disease or prostate disease. Tumors, lesions and scar tissue also can cause an obstruction.

Urinary retention can lead to infections, infections can lead to crystals and stones, stones can lead to an obstruction. Frequent potty breaks help flush bacteria out of the bladder, lowering the chance of infection. Ideally, a dog should get to empty their bladder at least every four hours.

And that is not to mention that repeat UTIs like to turn into a resistant strain. A persistent infection can also spread to the kidneys.

Do these things actually affect longevity?


It doesn't seem that anybody bothered going further down this rabbit hole. As a side note, most of the longest living dogs were farm dogs, spending most of their time outside, getting to pee any time they wanted. But there is no telling whether there is a direct connection.

That said, a urinary obstruction which can, in part, be caused by your dog not getting to empty their bladder regularly enough, can be deadly. An infection anywhere in the body is not helpful, and infected kidneys most definitely are not.

I have even read some sources claiming that toxins, which the kidneys worked so hard on removing and sending out with urine, might leach back into the system when urine sticks around for too long. I don't know if that's true either.

Either way, having to hold urine for prolonged periods of time is neither pleasant or healthy for your dog.


Related articles:
Dog Longevity Survey Part I
Dog Longevity Survey Part II
Dog Longevity Survey Part I Results
How Important Is Weight Management for Longevity?
How Important Is Diet for Longevity?

Learn how to detect and interpret the signs of a potential problem.



An award-winning guide to better understanding what your dog is telling you about their health, Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, is available in paperback and Kindle. Each chapter includes notes on when it is an emergency.

20 comments

  1. I know some dogs will "hold it" for long periods if unable to urinate in a familiar setting. For instance, dogs in kennel situations may be unwilling to urinate on cement runs when used to grass...or vice versa. This is an important topic I haven't seen covered elsewhere, thanks.

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    1. Thank you, Amy. Yes, sometimes dogs have an issue with the surroundings, the type of ground ... I don't blame any dog for not wanting to urinate on cement and splash all over themselves ;-)

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  2. We have an indoor potty solution. One reason was so that our wee fellow wouldn't have to be dependent on us to go. I think its done him well to never have to hold it in as he waits for us to come home. He prefers to go outside but ... he knows it's there and uses it. Likely drinks more as a result.

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    1. Yes, for many dogs this is a good solution if their parents are gone for work for many hours every day.

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  3. Interesting - and something I've never thought about. We used to have a dog door and got rid of it for a couple of reasons. But luckily, I work from home so I'm still able to let our dog out when he needs to go.

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    1. Yeah, working from home is best, isn't it? I do as well and my dogs always loved it. And get plenty of potty breaks and walks.

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  4. I don't think "holdin' it" is good for peeps, so I would imagine it wouldn't be good for doggies, either. As a cat, I just go to the litter box whenever I feel the need, and that's a good thing, I think. purrs

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    1. Yes, it's not good for any species. Kitties are lucky that way, being able to go any time they wish.

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  5. My girl Riley always had UTI infections in her last few years -- but she was always one to not want to pee when I let her out, she would wait 12 hours between potty breaks....frustrating as heck!

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    1. Yes, that would be pretty frustrating. And not emptying the bladder often enough does help foster UTIs. Sometimes they get silly about things, don't they?

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  6. I don't know about physical aspects, but I'm sure that adequate potty breaks is important to happiness which I think may play a part in longevity.

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    1. Yes, I agree that it makes for happier dogs too.

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  7. Layla pees a lot when we walk and I take her out at about 11 at night and not again till the morning. She can sleep till 9 in the morning but once outside there is no problems. I have a friend whose dog has problems and he is on Chinese herbs which are helping immensely

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    1. Nobody wants a dog to go potty a bunch of times through the night :-) The body functions differently when sleeping; this applies to daytime.

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  8. I don't have a dog however my common sense tells me absolutely frequent urination breaks are very important. Imagine if we as humans only got one break in 24 hours?!! I would assume it would create discomfort or potential infections but even potentially fatal? Wow. I didn't see that coming.

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    1. It could potentially be fatal though it's more likely one would simply pee themselves. Roxy would refuse to go when there were fireworks or a thunderstorm. Fortunately, Cookie isn't bothered by any of those things.

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  9. I am just so thankful I can work from home and let my dogs in and out a million times a day. Sure, sometimes I feel controlled lol or that they really don't NEED to go but I let them out anyway, because I can. I feel it is "Important" verging on very important that dogs pee frequently.

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    1. They sure know how to abuse things, don't they? But their lives are short. Working from home is the best.

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  10. Interesting. Now that I am living with a male dog again, I realize how often he pees and marks. I have let him continue to use a pee pad as needed and he gets frequent potty breaks. He is a big drinker and all of that liquid needs to filter through.

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  11. I agree. I sometimes let my dogs out every time I go to the bathroom when I am home, but often they don't want to go out. Some dogs are just used to holding it for a long time. This might be if they are not drinking enough water.

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