Dog Incontinence: Why it happens & what can you do?

Incontinence in dogs can be very frustrating, and it’s not always clear how you should deal with it. The problem of involuntary leaking of urine from the bladder can vary in its severity and can affect any kind of dog, though it’s more common in older pets.

What Causes Incontinence?

Incontinence is the inability to properly control the way urine leaks from the bladder. In healthy dogs, they can control the urge with a band of muscular tissue located at the base of the bladder. These muscles are affected by hormones: estrogen in females and testosterone in males. A number of things, including age, can affect these hormones and, therefore, the ability of your dog to control their bladder. Other factors, such as tumors, injury or congenital defects, can also affect the bladder.

Hormone-Responsive Incontinence

This is the most common type of incontinence in dogs, and most commonly affects older dogs (notably older spayed female dogs). When hormone levels drop with age, it becomes more difficult for dogs to control their urination. They may urinate normally throughout the day but wet themselves during the night or when relaxed.

This kind of incontinence can be treated using drugs or doses of estrogen in spayed females. Testosterone must be given to neutered dogs.

Other Types of Incontinence

Puppies will often experience submissive incontinence, where small amounts of urine are passed during times of stress. Most puppies will grow out of this, though it can be treated using some of the drugs mentioned above. Be careful not to punish your puppy as this will make the problem worse.

Dogs can also be affected by fecal incontinence, unable to control bowel movements. As with urinary incontinence, this may affect older dogs occasionally even if they control their bowel movements most of the time. If it becomes a regular problem then you may need to alter your dog’s diet, or get an official diagnosis.

Incontinence in dogs may be down to an underlying health condition, such as kidney infection, cystitis, kidney stones, bladder stones, liver disease, kidney disease and more. If you’re not sure, your veterinarian will be able to diagnose and advise an appropriate course of treatment.

Dog Incontinence Products

While you’re waiting for treatment to work, you can make use of certain products that will help to keep your home free of urine. You can buy pads and dog diapers that will catch the dribble, or even dog beds that allow urine released during sleep to fall down into a tray, keeping the dog clean and dry.

Incontinence in dogs can be frustrating, but remember not to take it out on your pooch. They may be struggling with the unexpected release just as much as you!