Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He works mostly with dogs and exotic animals.
Reasons why your dog´s urine is so dark.
cc-by flickr.com fooferkitten3443179088
If you are out for a walk and notice that your dog’s urine is not yellow, you
need to find out why as soon as possible. It may be no big deal (perhaps a
mild infection, or her new diet has some strange red dye in it), but it can be
a lot more serious.
In my experience, many problems can be dealt with easily if taken care of
right away. A tumor on the bladder wall can be removed if it’s found quickly,
but if left for months, most of the bladder will be lost and the dog will
probably end up being euthanized.
Dark urine can be an early symptom of many problems—some more dangerous than
others. If you notice any of the symptoms I describe below, talk to your vet
to find out what is wrong.
Common Causes of Dark Urine in Dogs
- Urinary tract infection
- Liver disease
- Gall bladder disease
- Blood loss into the body
- Muscle damage (like being hit by a car)
- Kidney or bladder stones
- Vaginal or prostate infection
- Some poisons
- Some dog foods (with added dyes)
Reasons for Red, Black, or Clear Urine
- Blood clots: If you see fresh blood and small blood clots, it may be caused by an infection of the kidneys or bladder, kidney or bladder stones, or a tumor growing in those areas. If your dog is still intact, she may pass a blood clot when she is in heat, but it is not from the bladder.
- Black urine: If the urine is black instead of just dark, that can be another sign of blood. It usually indicates that more blood is being lost.
- Clear urine: If your dog’s urine is clear and not yellow as usual, that suggests he is not able to concentrate urine. Have it checked as soon as possible because dilute urine can be a sign of many other health problems (like diabetes) that need to be treated.
Watching for Other Symptoms
Dark urine is not really the disease that is hurting your dog—it is just one
of the many signs to look out for to recognize a dog has a problem. Keeping an
eye open for this and other symptoms can help your vet diagnose your dog’s
problem quicker, and with less testing.
Other Signs and Symptoms to Look for:
- If they have a hard time urinating, it can mean a problem with the bladder, urethra, or prostate.
- If they are drinking excessive water, many systems need to be looked into. One type of hormonal disease causes a dog to become dehydrated even when drinking a lot.
- If your dog has pale or yellow gums (jaundice), she may have blood loss or destroyed blood cells somewhere in her body.
- If she is weak or has pain in her back or legs, it may mean that she has muscle damage.
Normal urine is yellow.
Other Tests Your Dog Might Need
The first part of your dog´s visit to the vet will be a physical exam. If she
is anemic, her heart may be very fast. If she has a bladder stone, it may be
large enough to be felt during the exam, or she might even wince when her
muscles are palpated during the exam. A female dog might have a vaginal
discharge, or an older male dog might have a swollen prostate.
Expect at the very least that your dog will need a urinalysis (a microscopic
examination of her urine), a complete blood count, and a blood chemical
analysis to check her liver, kidneys, and other internal organs. If you
hesitate because of the costs, remember the love she provides you every day
and do your best to support her now that she needs you.
Besides these basic tests, some dogs will also need:
- X-rays to check for any stones in the bladder
- Ultrasound to check the kidneys, liver, and bladder wall for tumors
- Laparoscopic exam and biopsy
Will My Dog Get Better?
Your dog has an excellent chance of getting better, but her chances really
depend on what the cause is and how soon you have her checked out. If she has
dark urine secondary to muscle damage, the problem will clear up as soon as
the muscle heals.
A liver disease, especially cancer, is a more serious problem. Getting a
diagnosis early will help in many cases.
Scroll to Continue
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It is difficult to say how things will turn out until the cause of the problem
has been determined. I have read a very popular website that recommends you
take a “wait and see” attitude towards your dog´s health. This is wrong. If
your dog has dark urine, find out what is wrong today!
- Do It Yourself At Home Physical Exam for Your Dog
You should be aware of what is normal in your dog. This is a physical exam you
can do at home before taking your dog in to see your veterinarian.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It
is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription,
or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional.
Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a
Questions & Answers
Question: Post knee surgery, my dog is on Cefpodoxime, and I noticed her
urine is very dark since starting the drug. Could this be a side effect?
Answer: The only side effects of that drug that I know of are vomiting
and diarrhea. You should take her to your vet tomorrow and have a urinalysis
and bloodwork done to find out if she is having post-surgical complications.
© 2016 Dr Mark
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on May 13, 2020:
Brookefuser, it is probably just dehydration, which is pretty common in dogs
that travel. To be sure take her in to your vet for a blood test (BUN, check
Brookefuser on May 12, 2020:
We just traveled internationally (12 hours) and my puppy has really dark urine
now. Orange/brown in color.
She didn’t go to the bathroom on the plane at all, we have been back 4 days
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on February 07,
Karen, it could be blood cells, liver disease, kidney disease, or any of the
other causes listed above. You will have to take a urine sample to your
regular vet to find out for sure what is going on.
Karen on February 06, 2020:
My 14 year old-diabetic pug/ Boston terrier has black colored urine?
What could possibly be the cause
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on April 24, 2019:
Brent, a 10 year old Boxer is a senior, so if she were mine the first thing I
would do is have her blood checked (liver and kidneys) but also have a
urinalysis to check for urine concentration (endocrine problem). All of those
things are a possibility at her age and a lot more likely than an infection.
Brent on April 24, 2019:
Doc, my 10 year old female boxer occasionally has dark red urine. Not all the
time but sometimes. It’s been going on for about 1.5 weeks. No changes in her
mood or appetite. Any ideas?
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on November 10,
donna, if the urine is darker than normal you should take it in to your
regular vet to be checked out.
Donna on November 09, 2018:
My dogs urine is Golden brown ?
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on December 14,
Sunny, if your puppy is having black stools that is an indication of digested
blood in the intestinal tract being passed in the stool. Do you have access to
a vet where you live? If you do, take a stool sample in and have it looked at
and checked for worms, like hookworms. Is your puppy vaccinated against parvo?
What is drools? Is that the brand of puppy food? Read the label and let me
know if there are a lot of dyes in there.
Sunny on December 14, 2017:
Hello how are you? I have a pug puppy of 4 months and I started feeling it
drools nutrition puppy. I just wanted to know some information that my dog is
peeing Orange colour and potty is of black. I started feeding get drools since
2 days I’m getting scared please suggest me what to do.?
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on October 18,
I wanted to follow you on flipboard but I cannot find your account. What is
your name/account name on that site?
Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on October 17, 2016:
Thank you very much for sharing this information, DrMark. It’s useful and
important information for people with a dog in their family. I’ll keep it in
mind for my dog and share it on Flipboard so that others can see it.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on April 11, 2016:
I think I forgot that one, Bob! I havent seen snow in years.
Bob Bamberg on April 10, 2016:
Helpful information as usual, Doc. If people notice a color change in their
dog’s urine and report it to their vet right away, it can result in a much
better outcome. We have a saying we learned as children here in the Northeast
that reminds us that dog urine is yellow: “Don’t eat the yellow snow.”