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Q&A: Is It Normal for a Dog Not to Urinate After Surgery?

Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.

There are several reasons a dog may produce less urine after surgery, some more worrisome than others.

There are several reasons a dog may produce less urine after surgery, some more worrisome than others.

Why Won't My Dog Pee After Cystotomy Surgery?

"My Maltipoo went in for a cystotomy Thursday at 18:00. She peed twice during the night. Yesterday (Friday morning) around 11:00 was the last time she peed. She’s not drinking the amount she normally does. I keep up with her pain meds and her anti-inflammatory meds, and she’s eating well. I take her to her regular spots often, but she takes one step and sits down. Should I be worried?" —Velyda

Even if a surgical wound appears to be healing well, there may be other issues preventing your dog from urinating normally.

Even if a surgical wound appears to be healing well, there may be other issues preventing your dog from urinating normally.

Reasons Why Dogs Might Not Urinate After Surgery

There are several reasons a dog may produce less urine after surgery, some more worrisome than others. Here are the most common (and what to do about them).

Acute Kidney Failure

Acute renal failure is the reason that usually worries me the most. I am not sure how long your dog was under anesthesia for her surgery, but the blood pressure can fall during that time, and the kidneys no longer produce enough urine. (1)

However, since she peed twice since she came home, this is probably not the case, as she was probably on fluids to keep her blood pressure up during surgery.

Anti-Inflammatory Medications

Another problem can be with the medications. You did not mention what type of anti-inflammatory medication your Maltipoo is taking; some of these medications cause decreased urine production. (2)

Dehydration

It is also possible that your dog is just not urinating because she is not drinking much. To encourage her to drink more, you can:

  • Add ice cubes to her water dish.
  • Provide fresh water at all times by using a water fountain. (Some dogs do not like to drink out of a bowl, which is why they seek other sources.)
  • Add chicken broth or other types of soup (no onions or garlic!) to the water.
  • Give small amounts of water with a syringe. (Do not shove the water down her throat. It is less stressful for her if you just drip the water into that little pocket at the side of her mouth and do not give more until she swallows.)
  • Take her back to your veterinarian for SQ fluids. (This probably will not be necessary unless she becomes very dehydrated.)

Pain When Squatting

The most likely cause is that even though her bladder is full, she is in too much pain to squat and relieve her bladder. She has gone through a lot of trauma, and the pain medications may not be enough.

See Your Vet for a Blood Test

The only way you can be sure that she is not producing urine because of a kidney problem is to take her back to your regular veterinarian and have her blood tested to monitor for any changes. They will do a physical exam first, and if her bladder is full, they will put a catheter in so that the bladder can be emptied before it causes any other health problems.

If the bladder is small but her kidneys are working fine, you can use the suggestions I listed above to get her to drink more and produce more urine. If she does have kidney problems after the surgery, they can be cleared up with immediate treatment. If you do not take care of it, she can develop chronic kidney failure, which is not going to go away.

Sources

(1) Stone EA, Rawlings CA, Finco DR, Crowell WA. Renal function after prolonged hypotensive anesthesia and surgery in dogs with reduced renal mass. Am J Vet Res. 1981 Oct;42(10):1675-80. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7325427/

(2) Hörl WH. Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs and the Kidney. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2010 Jul 21;3(7):2291-2321. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4036662/

This article is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from your veterinarian. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2022 Mark dos Anjos DVM