Canine Urinary Discharge

By Karen S. Johnson

Not all of your dog’s urinary mishaps are cause for alarm; some call for waiting for your pet to mature, or additional training or more frequent bathroom breaks. Certain discharge issues, though, signal a serious problem that requires veterinary attention. Familiarize yourself with your dog’s bathroom habits, and water intake, to catch a potential problem early. Such attention can also help your veterinarian make a speedy and accurate diagnosis.

Urinary Tract Infections and Blockages

Urinary discharge and incontinence can signal a urinary tract infection -- UTI -- that, left unchecked, can be fatal. In additional to leakage, you may also notice your dog attempting to urinate frequently with very little fluid discharged. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you notice any pus in the urine; this is a sign of pyruria, or an infection, signifying that white blood cells are present.Your dog may also have a stone or tumor in the urethra preventing him from fully emptying his bladder. This can quickly become deadly if left untreated

Female Issues

An intact, or unspayed, female dog, is at risk for pyometra, a uterine infection that occurs when bacteria flourish in the uterine walls when they thicken to prepare your dog for pregnancy. This occurs more often in middle-aged females, who have undergone several heat cycles without becoming pregnant, but can occur at any age. You may also notice pus in her vaginal area. The optimum time for pyometra to start is two to eight weeks after her last heat cycle. It’s imperative your dog receive immediate medical care if you notice pus on her or her bedding, or if she is feverish, depressed, has vomiting or diarrhea, or just seems ill. Dogs taking female hormones can also get pyometra.

Also contact your vet if urinary discharge accompanies redness or mucus near your dog’s vagina, if she is excessively licking that area, or if male dogs seem increasingly attracted to her. These signs could signal a UTI, vaginitis or vulvovaginal stenosis.

Male Issues

Your male dog may experience an enlarged prostate. It then presses against his urethra, making urination painful and difficult. The most common and least serious is benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH. He may also have a benign cyst or tumor; an infection or abscess; or prostate cancer. Most dogs with prostate issues also experience problems defecating.

Any redness or mucus on around the skin of your dog’s penis can also signal a possible infection.

Spayed and Neutered Dogs

Intermittent incontinence is common in spayed females and is typically no cause for worry. It can also occur in your neutered male. This can continue for months or even years, but is no more than a nuisance if your dog is otherwise healthy.

Breeds and Birth Defects

Some dog breeds are more prone to urinary incontinence because of breed-specific birth defects or health issues that may require surgical correction. Ectopic ureter is one such defect not uncommon in young Siberian huskies, miniature poodles, Labrador retrievers, collies, welsh corgis, wire-haired fox terriers and the West Highland white terrier. German shepherds are prone to spinal injuries or degeneration that can cause incontinence, but it can occur in any dog with a spinal cord issue.


Many dogs experience varying degrees of incontinence as they age. Talk to your vet about medications and implement other measures, such as doggie diapers, to keep your dog comfortable.

Submissive or Excitable Urination

Young or untrained dogs commonly go through stages of submissive or excitable urination, which don’t signal a medical condition. Your dog may also discharge urine when he is afraid, wasn’t socialized properly or had a traumatized background. Don’t scold or punish him for this behavior; a dog trainer can give you tips to overcome this.

Territorial Marking

Both male and female dogs mark their territory by discharging urine -- and in some cases, feces -- but this is more common in male dogs. He is asserting his dominance or reassuring himself when changes occur, such as when strangers enter the household. Early spaying and neutering can reduce the issue but may not stop it completely. A trainer can give you tops on how to reduce marking if it becomes a household issue.