Many dogs suffer from urinary incontinence at some point in their lives. Sometimes this is down to old age, or it may indicate another health concern. Urinary incontinence in dogs refers to pooches who do not have control over their bladder, meaning they involuntary pee. This could be a small leak or peeing around the house. Urinary incontinence in dogs is a medical condition that needs attention, and usually, your dog doesn’t even know it’s happening.
The Main Symptoms of Urinary Incontinence in Dogs
The most obvious sign that your dog is struggling with urinary incontinence is pee in the house or their bed. They may also be dripping urine. Another symptom is red and irritated skin around the area, where the urine has stayed on the skin and caused a rash. Your dog may also start licking themselves more on their vulva or penis, which is another important sign to look out for.
If you do notice any of these signs, make sure to write them down and inform your vet, as this can help with diagnosis. Observe how often they are peeing, where they are peeing, if they are drinking more water than they usually would, and if they have any other symptoms.
As your dog gets older, his bladder gets weaker. This is one of the main causes of urinary incontinence in senior dogs. They may have the occasional bladder leak, or they may start to pee all over the floor when they have never done so before. This type of incontinence usually happens between middle and old age. This may be more likely in some breeds (see below) and other factors can play a role too, such as obesity.
Female dogs are more likely to become incontinent than males. If your female dog is spayed and reaching middle-aged, you may find she suffers from urinary incontinence. This is often referred to by vets as “spay incontinence”. This is due to hormonal changes in your female dog. As your female dog ages, her estrogen levels will begin to decrease. This can lead to weaker muscle tone, which can cause leaking. Spaying can also cause a weak bladder. If your female dog is beginning to pee in the house or leak urine, visit your vet for a diagnosis.
Some breeds are more prone to urinary incontinence than others. These are:
- Doberman pinschers
- German Shepherds
- Springer Spaniels
This does not mean other breeds of dogs cannot suffer from urinary incontinence.
Other Causes of Urinary Incontinence in Dogs
Other than breed, age, and gender, there are other causes of urinary incontinence. One of the most common causes of urinary incontinence in dogs is a urinary tract infection (UTI). Native Pet has a great article on the signs of a UTI in dogs. As you’ll see, UTIs cause urinary incontinence, since they increase the need and urgency to pee. If you want to know more about UTIs in dogs, check out this article. Other causes of urinary incontinence include:
- Prostate disorders
- Urinary stones
- Side effects of some medications, like steroids
- An inherited medical condition
- Abnormalities to the anatomy of the bladder or urethra
If you are finding it extremely difficult to litter train your new puppy, there may be another reason behind this. Check with your vet for signs of any abnormalities, as it could be that your pup is incontinent.
How to Diagnose Urinary Incontinence in Dogs
If you think your dog is suffering from urinary incontinence, you should visit your vet. They will review your dog with a physical examination and look at their previous medical history. To check for a UTI, they will complete a urinalysis, which is a urine test. They may also carry out other tests, such as an ultrasound or a blood test. These tests are used to find the cause of your dog’s urinary incontinence.
Once a diagnosis has been reached, your vet will discuss treatment plans with you. If your dog does have an infection, the usual course of treatment is antibiotics. If your dog is diagnosed with a long-term illness, your vet will provide you with support and a care plan. For female dogs with hormonal imbalance, hormone replacement therapy can help. This can replace the estrogen lost naturally, relieving urinary incontinence.
In some cases, surgery may be needed to correct urinary incontinence. Your vet will go through the benefits and risks of surgery, so you and your family can decide what is best for your dog. Surgery is usually needed if there is some kind of deformity that is causing urinary incontinence, or your dog has bladder stones. Surgery may be the only way to treat your dog if medication hasn’t worked.
Management of Urinary Incontinence at Home
If your dog suffers from urinary incontinence, there are some things you can do at home to help.
- Doggy Diapers
If your dog is peeing around the house, you may want to use doggy diapers. These are diapers specially designed for your dog to stop them peeing around the home. Diapers should be changed often, as failing to do so can cause a rash and redness around the area. You can also find reusable doggy diapers, which can be washed. This can save in costs and will lead to less waste. Some dog owners just use doggy diapers at night time, when they can’t let their dog out. Dogs will often try to take diapers off, so training is essential. If you need help, here are some tips for keeping diapers on your dog.
- Take Your Dog Out More Often
Another way to help with urinary incontinence is to take your dog out to pee more often. This can reduce the chance of them doing it in the house or their bed. You should also take your dog out to pee just before bed, as this can help with nighttime peeing. If possible, install a dog flap so your dog can go out whenever they need.
- Keep them Clean
If your dog leaks often, you need to keep the area clean and dry. This means wiping and cleaning the area regularly with a dog-friendly wipe, or water and a cotton pad. If your dog is urinary incontinent, you should keep a close eye out for signs of an infection, as urinary incontinence can increase the risk of infection. You can also find waterproof pads for their bedding, which can be changed as needed.
- Try Natural Remedies
Medication can help with urinary incontinence and some dog owners swear by natural remedies. Which home remedies you try will depend on the cause of your dog’s urinary incontinence, but there are natural remedies for everything from UTIs to kidney stones. Probiotic supplements are also recommended for dogs suffering from urinary incontinence, as they can promote healthy bacteria in the digestive tract. In some cases, acupuncture has been found to treat urinary incontinence in both humans and dogs.
Urinary incontinence can happen to a dog at any age, so looking out for signs can help determine the cause. If you think your dog has urinary incontinence, they must see a vet for an official diagnosis and the right treatment.