top of page
  • jessicaf82

How To Express A Pet's Bladder

Updated: Jan 22, 2021

How to Express a Pet's Bladder

December 5, 2020

First, there is no substitute for good veterinarian care. This information is for informational purposes only and should not be used in place of consultation with your veterinarian.

A cat or dog can lose its ability of bladder control temporarily or permanently due to injuries, illnesses, or aging. A pet owner can learn to express their pet's bladder in the home environment. First, you should get a demonstration at a vet’s clinic. The best way is for the vet or vet tech to put their hands over yours and guide you to the location of the bladder and to show you the appropriate amount of pressure to apply. They will also have experience as to whether or not your pet is a good candidate for the procedure based on the cause of the condition, the breed, the gender, size, and the temperament of your pet. There are different methods to express the bladder based on those traits and conditions. A pet may be expressed while standing up, lying down, held in your arms, or over a toilet. You may use one hand, two hands, or just fingers. You may decide to express your pet's inside or outside. Your vet’s clinic is the place to learn the techniques needed, for your pet, in order to achieve the best results. Trial and error is another aspect of this process.

Location of the Bladder The bladder is like a balloon that is not quite round and not quite oval-shaped and about the size of a lime. The size and shape depend on how much urine it is holding. It is located in the abdomen directly under a dog’s hind legs. In the male, the bladder is above the middle of a dog’s penis. In a female, it is a little more towards a dog’s rear end. The bladder is not exactly in the same place every time. It depends on how full it is and what is in the GI tract.

Keep these tips in mind: -Use steady even pressure (not a pulsing type of action). There may be a delayed reaction until the urine comes out – hold pressure three to six seconds before repositioning hands Sometimes waiting ten to twenty seconds and pressing again gives the bladder time to reform and more urine will be released

-Use command or same wording every time you do it. This will help with cooperation or learned response-just like puppy potty training.

-Keep to the routine. Figure out a place to do it and a pattern. Pets are happier with routines.

-It is important to remain calm while you express. Tense and anxiety make for a tense and anxious pet who may tense up its stomach muscles making it harder to express. You may gently massage your pet's stomach. Remember to breathe. Remember! You can learn to do this with patience and practice.

How to Express

If you are able to support your pet in the standing position, place your hands on each side of your pet's abdomen with your thumbs pointing up towards the spine. Use your fingers to locate the bladder. Search for what feels like a full balloon that is limed shaped. Remember what you actually feel and where depends on how full the bladder is. To express the bladder itself, you can use your fingertips or your fingers curled up. Slowly apply steady pressure until you get a steady stream of urine. Keep applying pressure until the urine slows to a dribble or stops and you can almost feel your fingers from each hand touching each other. Wait up to thirty seconds to let the bladder reform and reshape which it will do, and then try again to express again to get the remaining urine out. Getting the last of the urine out will help reduce the chance of your pet developing a urinary tract infection.

Remember that your vet clinic may instruct you to express your pet in a different position with a different hand position. YOUR pet will determine the specifics.

How Often to Express

Many vets recommend not going more than eight hours without expressing in order not to stretch out the bladder too much or allow the urine to remain in the bladder too long which can lead to urinary tract infection. The usual recommendation is to express at least every six hours. Each pet is different in its bladder capability to hold urine.

Urinary Tract Infection

Urinary tract infection can be more common in a dog that has lost control of its bladder.

-If your pet is hard to express or dribbling urine often -Their urine is dark in color or has a strong odor -There is blood in the urine or blood coming out of the genitals -Your pet is licking their genital area more than normal -Your pet cries or seems to be in pain when you express

Then your pet may have a urinary tract infection (UTI) and you either need to take a urine sample in or take your pet to the vet for treatment. UTI can turn serious quickly and you will want to get treatment quickly.


Learning to express your pet's bladder at home can mean that your pet will be able to continue to give you years of joy and time together. Every pet is different. Every owner is different. Every situation is different. Learning this skill can give you options in deciding what is best and possible for you and your pet.


388 views0 comments


Pet Sitting For Comfort Logo
bottom of page