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Expressing Your Dog’s Bladder

Expressing Your Pet’s Bladder – General Information
Expressing Your Cat’s Bladder

Small Dog

expressing a dog

Support the animal in an upright position.

how to express a dog

Locate the bladder. Gently do ‘test squeezes’ on different spots until you identify it, starting where the ribs end and moving back. Your thumb should be on one side of the abdomen and your fingers on the other side.

Learn to express a dog

Gently squeeze your thumb and fingers together and see if urine is released. If not, move to a slightly different area on the bladder and try again.

This is the right spot.

express your pet to help him urinate

The animal may lift its tail when the right spot is squeezed.

Learn to express a dog

Urine should be released in a fairly steady stream. When urine decreases to a dribble, the bladder has been sufficiently expressed. This is not painful for the pet. It is often a great relief.

Medium or Large Dog

express a larger dog

Place your hands on the pet’s sides behind the rib cage. Here the thumbs are resting lightly on the back

expressing a dog

Apply pressure squeezing inward and upward. Do not put pressure directly on an injured spine, especially if the dog has disk disease.

Express your pet properly - help him pee

If your hands become tired, pause to rest, then begin again. As the bladder shrinks you may need to stop and move your hands to a better position. Continue expressing until the bladder is empty.

Heavy Dog

expressing a dog in a cart

This large dog is supported in a standing position by a wheelchair. Reach down through the bars to place your hands on the waist in front of the thighs.

expressing a large dog in a cart

Try to feel the bladder by pressing into the sides with your fingertips. When you locate it, squeeze your hands together to begin expressing.

express a dog in a cart - how to

Notice how far the waist is being pushed in as the dog is expressed. Express, rest and repeat until no more urine is produced.

Expressing with fists for firmer pressure

I am also trying to learn this skill of expression and what has helped me as a woman is actually making a fist with each of my hands and either using the open face of my fist(thumbs pointing forward) or knuckle to knuckle (thumbs pointing toward me when expressing. Perhaps I didn’t have the strength in my palm and fingers or I was putting too much pressure on the finger tips, but I had no luck expressing until I used my whole fist which allowed me to use more pressure spread over a larger area than just my fingertips. All the advice written here about positioning with a very full bladder seems accurate. Overcoming the spincter is the hardest part so firm pressure is necessary in the beginning and once you get your dog going you’ll have no more trouble. I express all I can, wait a moment and then do it again with duplicate results say 10 or 12 times each session. You can only feel the bladder when it is not abnormally distended. Just find the spot that works for your dog and repeat the actions numerous times each session. I asked a vet at our local veterinary teaching university hospital if this method was OK and he said many of the women students use this method. Hope this helps. Best of luck, don’t be discouraged. Martha

Supporting a heavy dog

I created an “expressing station”. My back porch has exposed rafters, so we put a small metal hook in the rafter, and used clothes line and small pulleys to hook up the line. We put a clip on one end of the line so that we could clip it to Porkchop’s walking harness and step on the line to hold it steady.

Station for expressing a large paralyzed dog’s bladder

To help express our 70 pound female lab’s bladder to go potty, my wife and I design a simple but very effective expressing station. It just requires (1) a two-leg ^ ladder, (2) a bar, and (3) a sling. On the bar, we put some nails at several locations (to later fix the sling handles and adjust the height of the sling that holds the abdomen of our dog). First, we use the sling to help our dog stand up and walk to under the ladder. Once there, extend the bar through the two handles of the sling. Then rest the bar on one step of the ladder at one side and the horizontal fix at the other side of the ladder. Adjust the sling height using the nails put at different positions on the bar. Then I can just let the sling go and let it hold her. I then use both my hands to express her bladder. What’s amazing here is our dog tends to fall back and the sling will hold her at a position where the bladder would be positioned right behind the sling area and hence easy to locate and express. The whole process takes only 5 minutes to accomplish, and if necessary, one person can do it by himself (for a 70 pound dog!).

Build a station to express your dog

Expressing a dog who is lying down
Anyway, she weighs 46 lbs, so expressing her with her in standing position is extremely difficult, if not impossible. At wee hours this morning, I placed her on bed on her side and started massaging/pressing firmly but gently the entire abdomen, as you guys taught, from where the rib cage ends, using my right thumb on one side and the other four fingers on the other and w/ my left hand placing on her back to help pushing.

Actually I couldn’t feel “the” balloon but urine did came out! Tried that again at 10 am this morning and it worked

Expressing an 85 lb. dog with a sling

I have a lab 85# and for the week she needed to be expressed here is what I did. Every six hours I would put a sling (a towel rolled worked) under her upper belly and take her to the area to relieve herself. Then I would position it just in front of her hind legs and lift with a slight jerk. Sometimes it would take 3 or 4 lifts. If your dog is smaller you might need to use a thinner sling. In any case I would run this by the vet or vet tech. I can only say what worked for me. One time I couldn’t get her to pee so I gave her some water and in twenty minutes – no problem.

Large German Shepherd

I have a large GSD and when I had to express him he required steady pressure to empty his bladder and could not stand on his own. How I did this was to use a harness in the front (I just used a regular back clipping harness but they sell a special front end lifting harness) and a sheet in the back (a crib sheet works well if you have one). I would carry him while trying to place his feet to the potty spot, then I would place his front feet where he could stand on them and I would stand over his back end and pull his hips up and hold them up in between my legs then use my flat hand, fingers together, to express his bladder till empty. It took me over a week of doing this before I could do it and not get pee all over myself and him. It takes some dedication and physical strength but, like everything else, practice makes perfect.

Expressing a large dog in a cart

I express Waffles in his cart. I stand behind him with my legs on each side of his wheels (he uses Fixed Saddle. I put my hands inside of the bars of the cart (from the top) and with both hands open I press both sides of his bladder at the same time.


Catheterization may be an option for your male dog. It is more complicated with females and usually must be done by a vet. Here is a link to a veterinary school website with detailed and graphic instructions on the use of a catheter. Do NOT perform this procedure without the support of a vet! Improperly done, this can seriously, perhaps fatally injure your dog.

Using sterile procedure

I used ky gel from a tube but I read some where that you can get indiviual packets of it so that the KY would be sterile each time you opened a new packet. I would put the KY on a clean plate. You could probably put it on a sterile gauze if you think that is cleaner. I always had that pump antibacteria gel soap that you don’t rinse off right next to me. Also, I had a second tube with cold sterile in it. I would keep track of which tube I was pulling caths from and when I finished I would put the used cath in the other tube. This way I never used the same cath on the same day and I knew that the caths were very sterile because they were in the cold sterile for at least 24 hours before I used them again. I had about a dozen caths that I had rotating from tube to tube.

I would wash my hands, get everything layed out including Waffles, then wash my hands again. I would wipe Waffles with a baby wipe. I never used anything harsh because I did not want to dry or irratate him. I would use the antibacteria gel on my hands. I would pull back the sheath. When you get more practice you will be able to pull it back with one hand or at least hold it back with one hand and then I would pump some more antibacteria gel just on my fingers of my right hand and rube the gel around with my fingers and thumb. Then shake my hand so that it would dry. If you could set up your catheter tube in some type of stand so that you could have it upright with the top off so that you can grab a cath with your clean hand without having to touch the tube again that would be helpful. I would shake the cath out for a long time to make sure all the cold sterile was off (if your vet said to rinse then do that). If I hit the wall or anything while shaking the cath then I would take out a new one. After I was sure the cath was dry then I would carefully drag the cath though the KY gel (I would coat about an inch) holding the cath as far back as possible then begin inserting.

Stimulating Urination

There is another way to empty the bladder that works for some pets. It may be useful on a short-term or emergency basis. It involves external stimulation of the pet’s genital area to encourage urination as a mother cat does with tiny kittens. Expressing the bladder does not require contact with the pet’s genital area and cannot introduce germs into the urethra. External stimulation can get germs in the urethra and cause a Urinary tract infection. When expressing the bladder you control how completely the bladder is emptied, but with external stimulation you are limited to how well the pet can empty the bladder on its own. External stimulation may cause the pet to wet on your hand, which does not happen with expressing. If your vet has shown you how to express your pet and you are unable to do it properly, ask for another demonstration. If you are in a situation where your pet’s bladder needs to be emptied and you have not been shown how to express or catheterize your pet, this method may help temporarily until you can see a vet.

Male Yorkie

when I empty his bladder I hold him with right hand( he’s small thank god) and use damp towel with left hand. I just pat the tip of his wee wee back and forth. he pees at least 3 or 4 times, more if he is full. I did this at the vets one time while she watched and she checked, bladder was empty. if it is raining outside I empty him over the tub, if pretty we do it outside (he likes to mark his spots. lol)

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