My Dog Cries Out When He Tries to Urinate

    All normal healthy dogs should urinate in comfort. The production of urine and its subsequent elimination is an essential means of ridding the body of waste products that would otherwise remain in the bloodstream, acting as toxins. If your dog shows even the least amount of distress while attempting to urinate, you need to figure out why. A dog that goes for an extended period of time without urinating will get very sick and could die.

    Males are more likely to become obstructed than females due to the increased length and narrower diameter of the male urethra. An obstruction may be the case if a male dog repeatedly attempts to urinate without success. Remember that some dogs will do this after they have successfully urinated, just trying to mark their perceived territory. Pay attention to what has immediately preceded these attempts! If your dog is struggling to urinate and cannot due so, get him to a veterinary clinic right away because this is a medical emergency.

    The reasons a dog would feel discomfort while urinating range from simple, treatable issues like urinary tract infections (UTI) to more complex problems, such as urinary bladder crystals and kidney or bladder stones. On rare occasions, pain while attempting to urinate may be due to a fractured penis. Yes, male dogs have a bone in theirs, and it can get fractured!

    What to Look For

    Observe your dog's penis as he tries to go to the bathroom. Note whether any urine is actually coming out.

    If he will allow it, get a good look at his genitals to see whether there is any unusual swelling or redness associated with his penis or his scrotal area (and his testicles if he is intact).

    If your female will allow it, check her for swelling, redness, or any increase in pigmentation that would indicate excessive licking of the area.

    Collect a urine sample to examine and possibly take to your veterinarian. This can be tricky, but the most successful technique for females is to use a clean pie plate slid beneath her as she squats. For males, a clean glass jar can be used to catch urine midstream or a few drops as they leak out. Always wear rubber gloves to avoid getting any urine on yourself in the process. Once you have the sample, drop it off with your vet as soon as possible, since time and temperature can alter the sample significantly.

    What to Do

    So how do you figure out why your dog is having trouble? Ask yourself the following questions:

    • Is your dog a male or a female? Male dogs are much more likely than females to experience pain on attempts to urinate due to the aforementioned anatomical differences. In addition, intact males will have greater potential for partial obstructions based on prostate enlargement or the presence of high sperm counts.
    • Did you see unusual swelling or redness? These are all signs that the problem may be localized to the genitalia or that your dog is doing his best to solve the problem by licking the area. However, dogs are rarely capable of doing so and if they were you wouldn't be witnessing the ongoing discomfort that you're trying to solve right now. Most often, your vet should be consulted. This step will generally result in a much more rapid resolution of the problem.
    • Does your dog have a history of urinary tract infections? Since this is probably the most common reason for discomfort on urination nation, it is worth investigating before the others. If your dog has a fever, seems to drink more than usual, or acts a bit lethargic in addition to the urinary problem, it may be another UTI. If so, you will need your vet to help treat it appropriately.
    • Is your dog urinating successfully in spite of the discomfort? If your dog is still able to produce a significant amount of urine, the situation is not as grave as it would be if a urinary tract obstruction were suspected. Collect a urine sample and have it analyzed by your vet.
    • Is there blood in the urine? A little blood in the urine is often present during a UTI, but it is also present in cases of urinary tract crystals, stones, trauma, and neoplasia (tumors). If there is blood, always play it safe and see your veterinarian.
    • Does your dog appear to be in pain other than when he attempts to urinate? If there is evidence of pain not associated with urinating, your vet should see your dog.

    When to Get the Vet

    If your dog is complaining and incapable of producing anything more than a few drops of bloody urine, it is an emergency!