My Australian Shepherd is a wonderful girl (she’s a therapy dog). My only problem is on long drives (2 days) she will go 12 – 15 hours without urinating. When I stop for gas, I walk her. I walk her in the morning outside the hotel and again before we leave as well as soon as we stop prior to checking in and again before bedtime. Often she usually goes without urinating for twelve or more hours. How do I ensure she relieves herself? She is always well hydrated.
Dr. Kristy Conn’s advice.
Urinary frequency in dogs will vary due to factors such as age, sex, body size and overall health. Typically, smaller breeds and younger dogs will need to urinate more frequently than larger breeds and older dog. The average healthy dog will produce approximately 10 to 20 ml of urine for each pound of body weight per day. Ideally adult dogs should be allowed outside to relieve themselves at least 3-5 times a day. Depending on how many times you stop for gas during your travel days I count at least 5 distinct occasions where your dog is given an opportunity to relieve herself. She is being given plenty of opportunities to relieve herself but it sounds as if she is only using a couple of them to actually go since you state 10-15 hours can pass without urinating.
Although you mention she stays well hydrated she may nonetheless drink less water since she is stationary in a vehicle for the majority of the trip as opposed to running around at home where she likely drinks more. Therefore she has less of an urge to go. Another factor may be excitement and distractions during pit stops which may prevent her from relieving herself. At rest stops try to walk her in a quiet area away from the main crowd of people and other dogs. As long as she is drinking and is given plenty of opportunities to relieve herself then you shouldn’t worry too much about the prolonged urinary retention on the occasional trip.
However, be aware that holding urine for prolonged periods of time has been linked with increased incidence of urinary tract infections and urinary stones. It has also been suggested that it may predispose to certain urinary cancers due to prolonged contact between carcinogens in the urine and the cells of the urinary tract. For these reasons you should consider keeping the trips to a minimum. You did not state how often you go but I would recommend no more than 1-2 trips a months. Since she has a higher risk of developing urinary tract infections ask your veterinarian to include a urinalysis as part of your dog’s annual physical and monitor her urinary activities both at home and on trips. Keep an eye out for signs of a possible urinary tract infection such as an increased urge to urinate, having “accidents” indoors, acting painful or uncomfortable during urination and blood or pus in the urine. As always seek out veterinary attention if you notice any significant changes in your dog’s urination habits.