House Soiling (Marking) by Dogs

5 min read



Inappropriate Urination and Defecation in Dogs

House soiling is a common problem, affecting up to 37 percent of dogs diagnosed with behavioral problems. Most pet owners train their dogs to urinate and defecate outside, and "accidents" usually end while dogs are still puppies, as they learn to wait for scheduled outdoor time. House soiling occurs when a dog regresses to urinating or defecating inside the house. This behavior is more common in male dogs that have not been neutered, although it can occur in non-neutered dogs and cats.

There are two types of house soiling. Behavioral house soiling happens when there is no underlying medical problem causing a dog to go to the bathroom in the house. The other type of house soiling occurs when a health problem is causing a dog to eliminate its body waste inside the house. It may have lost control of the muscles in its bladder or sphincter, or there may be an infection or other condition that is making it difficult for the dog to hold the waste in long enough to get outside. House soiling is the most common reason people give their dogs up to an animal shelter, making this an issue of high importance. The sooner the condition is addressed and resolved, the more likely the family is to keep the dog.

Symptoms and Types

  • Urinating in the house
  • Defecating in the house
  • Can be a behavioral problem or a medical problem


  • Behavior Problems
    • Not enough house training
    • Urinating to show submission - to another animal or to a human
    • Urinating when excited – loss of bladder control
    • Urinating or defecating when afraid/anxious
    • Marking territory
    • Separation anxiety
    • Drinking too much water, which leads to urinating more
  • Medical Problems
    • Pain when squatting to urinate or defecate
    • Pain when lifting the leg to urinate, if male
    • Bladder infection or bladder stones
    • Unable to hold urine in the bladder (incontinence)
    • Diseased kidney
    • Kidney failure
    • Kidney tumors
    • Liver diseases
    • Disease of the adrenal glands
    • Cushing’s syndrome
    • Addison’s disease
    • Brain diseases
    • Diabetes
    • Abnormally formed urinary system (ectopic ureter)
    • Intestinal parasites
    • Dietary problems, reactions to food


You will need to give a thorough history of your dog's health, onset of symptoms, and possible incidents that might have led to this condition. Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam on your dog, with a complete blood profile, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, and a urinalysis. This will allow your veterinarian to determine whether your dog's internal organs are functioning normally and whether there are any infections of the blood or urinary tract. If necessary, your veterinarian may order other blood tests to check the function of your dog's adrenal and thyroid glands. Fecal (stool) tests may also be ordered to rule out intestinal parasites or digestion problems which might be causing it to defecate in the house.

Your veterinarian may also order x-ray and ultrasound images of your dog's abdomen to look for the presence of kidney or bladder stones, tumors, or other diseases that would affect the internal organs. If no medical cause is found to be causing your dog to urinate or defecate in the house, it will be diagnosed with a behavior problem. If this is the case, your veterinarian may ask you to videotape your dog's behavior, or to keep a diary of when the inappropriate behavior happens.

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