While we might love our pets (okay, we are completely enamored with them), there is no denying that some of the things that they do can be weird, slightly disturbing, or even sometimes downright disgusting. However, in the animal world, these seemingly distasteful habits can usually be an indicator of something else. For instance, the dogs that seemingly enjoy drinking their own urine. Sure, it’s gag-worthy but the question that needs to be asked is why they do this. Why do dogs drink own urine?
When a dog drinks his own urine, it means he is dehydrated or lacking nutrients. If your dog knows urinating in the house is not allowed, he may be trying to hide the scene. Other reasons may include behavioral issues and medical problems.
The truth is, as with most canine behaviors, there is typically much more to it than simply being a gross habit (still icky though!). Because our dogs cannot communicate verbally, they tell us everything in their own unique doggy type of way, which could very well include a display of self-urine drinking. They tend to rely almost solely on body language to communicate.
The act of drinking his own urine could be his way of saying anything from ‘I’m thirsty’ to “I need to investigate your last meal’. The following are just a paw-ful of the most common reasons for your dog drinking his own urine.
Why Dogs Drink Own Urine
One of the most common, and obvious, reasons for lapping up his own urine could be that he is dehydrated. The experts say that as a general rule a dog should be drinking at least one ounce of water per every pound of body weight daily. If he is not being offered an adequate supply of fresh water he might resort to drinking his own urine.
10. Insufficient Diet
While some experts might disagree, many do believe that a big reason for a dog ingesting their own urine is because he is missing some much-needed nutrients in his diet. Although the majority of pet foods claim to have the appropriate amounts of vitamins, minerals, and overall nutrients, it is always a good idea to do your research. You want to ensure that your dog is getting a whole and complete diet.
09. Getting Rid Of The Evidence
Much like a child might hide the pieces of the lamp he accidentally broke, this could very well be your pup’s way of getting rid of the evidence of his indiscretion. If your boy has been housebroken then he knows that having an accident in the house is frowned upon. If he happens to have an accident, drinking the pee to eliminate the evidence would not be out of the realm of possibility.
Most of us have heard about, or seen, (and been completely grossed out by…) a mother dog eating her babies feces and urine. This is completely natural and is done for a few reasons. One of those reasons is their natural instinct for cleanliness. Out of instinct your dog might feel the need to make his den (home) as clean as possible. Even if it means drinking his urine.
07. Behavior Issue
When your dog is drinking his own urine, and it is in addition to other odd or negative habits, then it could be a behavioral issue. Behavioral issues can develop for a multitude of reasons. Behavioral therapy and consistency in training could help curb negative ways. Depending on the severity, you might need to call in a professional animal behavioralist.
06. Result Of A Neglectful Background
Dogs that come from abusive or neglectful backgrounds, those from puppy mills, in particular, tend to develop the habit of drinking (and sometimes eating) their own excrement. This is due to an insufficient supply of food and water. Their urine and feces may be the only thing they had to eat while in horrid conditions and eventually acquire a taste for it.
05. It’s Just A Stage
In short, animals sometimes go through bizarre stages. If the urine drinking is, in fact, a stage, he will likely grow out of it, although this is not always the case. Using distraction methods and positive reinforcement could help train your dog not to drink his urine. Also if your pooch is still intact (not spayed/neutered) this may be the perfect time to do so as urine drinking could very well be associated with being in heat.
04. Improper House Training
Dogs that have not been trained properly can sometimes develop the habit of drinking their own urine. This can be down to something as simple as the inability to hold it in or rebellion for the younger pups. Having a consistent training plan can help eliminate any urine drinking behavior.
03. He Needs More/Longer Potty Breaks
Too few potty breaks, or ones that are too short, timing-wise, can cause accidents. And, it is not abnormal for your dog to want to ‘clean up’ after having an accident. Luckily, this particular situation is easily rectified. Offering more and longer access to bathroom breaks will typically remove the need to lap up his own urine.
Some dogs are more sensitive to odor than others. The scent of the urine itself could also be intriguing and enticing to your pup. They use their Jacobson organ (which can be found in the roof of the mouth) to ‘sniff’ out pheromones. If you notice your dog drinking both his and other dogs’ urine, it could be caused by this.
01. Medical Problem
There are some medical conditions that can cause your dog to start swigging his own urine. Diabetes Mellitus, Cushing’s, and kidney failure are just a few of the serious conditions that can cause excessive thirst resulting in possibly drinking his own pee. If you suspect that there is an underlying medical condition, make an appointment with your dog’s veterinarian.
Should I Allow This Behavior?
Well, it is completely gross, so probably not. However, the real question is, can you successfully correct the behavior. Depending on the origin it might be hardwired into their brain and therefore, quite possibly nearly impossible to change.
How To Stop My Dog From Drinking His Own Urine
Where there’s a will there’s a way though, amiright? If you truly have your puppy loving heart set on correcting Fluffy’s habit of urine drinking (and who could blame you!), certain training techniques might do the trick. If all else fails you could always call in the professionals.
- Positive Reinforcement: Instead of disciplining when he does drink his own urine, offer praise, and/or treats when he resists the urge. Your dog wants nothing more than to please you.
- Bribery is Not Frowned Upon: If need be a bribe is always a good idea (okay, maybe not always). If your dog is about to start having a nice puddle of warm pee, distract him with a favorite toy or snack.
- Consistency is Key: With any behavioral therapy, consistency is absolutely key to success. Stick with it and never waver. You do not want to confuse your pooch.
- Be Patient: Most things take time, especially if it is attempting to correct a behavior that has possibly been ingrained in them since puppyhood. Don’t get discouraged. Be patient.
- Don’t Get Your Hopes Up: Unfortunately, you might have to accept that your dog is simply a urine-licker. Some habits cannot be broken but it doesn’t hurt to try.
What Not To Do:
- Never, ever, rub your dog’s snout in his ‘accidents’. Although it is a discipline, it could very well have the opposite effect. Many dogs that are reprimanded by literally ‘rubbing their nose in it’ end up developing a taste for it. If they regularly need to lick it off their nose, they’re likely going to get used to, or even end up enjoying, the taste.
- Hitting and Yelling rarely help the situation. In fact, a lot of dogs will urinate out of fear in response to the yelling and/or physical punishment. Instead, here’s an article on how to not get angry at your precious pooch.
- Don’t give up. True, your precious pooch might never lose his appetite for urine but as long as you are doing it the right way, the training just might help.
While acknowledging the ick factor, the good news is that drinking his own urine isn’t likely to be harmful to your pet. The dogs’ digestive system actually sterilizes it. So while it might not be the most pleasant experience, it is normal, not dangerous, and in many cases, can be completely (or almost completely) corrected. Even if you are stuck with a pooch who enjoys a tipple of pee every now and then, remember all of the positives they bring to our lives. They are more than worth a few, somewhat repulsive, moments, no?