Urinary incontinence in dogs can be frustrating for pet owners, but there are identifiable causes for it. These tips can help you manage the condition and provide relief for your dog.
As dogs get older, they may start to develop similar conditions to the ones some elderly people get. Urinary or urethral incontinence is one of the common age-related issues, and it’s as impossible for your dog to manage or prevent as it is for a person. Discover the facts behind your dog’s incontinence, and learn how to handle it with the tact and compassion that will keep your pet comfortable during his or her senior years. While urinary incontinence is unusual in younger dogs, it can also occur in disabled pets or with certain medical conditions.
Bladder or urinary incontinence in dogs is commonly caused by a hormonal imbalance, a urinary tract infection, or a prostate disorder in male dogs. These can often be addressed by getting medical attention, but other causes that are more challenging include:
Urethral incontinence is found in more than one-fifth (20%) of all spayed female dogs. It develops most commonly in middle-aged to senior medium and large breed dogs, although any male or female dog can be affected if the condition is inherited or caused by a disability.
Since there can be many reasons why your dog produces urine unexpectedly, it’s important to differentiate between urinary incontinence and issues such as poor housetraining or “submissive urination,” which require completely different approaches.
If you find wet spots on your dog’s bedding, or on the floor where he (or she) has been lying, this is a sign that he may no longer have adequate muscle control. Another indication is urine dribbling behind the dog as he walks, or after he has urinated. In most cases, the dog will not be aware of the urine.
An alternative sign that your dog may be struggling with urinary issues is skin irritation and redness, particularly down the inner surface of the hind legs or around the genital area. This can be made worse by excessive licking, which is usually the dog’s attempt to relieve the irritation.
Treatments depend on finding the root cause of the urinary incontinence, and your veterinarian will look into all possible reasons for it. To diagnose the issue, s/he will give the dog a physical examination, take a urine culture to check for lesions, and potentially perform a urethral pressure profile (UPP) test to determine the strength of the bladder. X-rays might also be taken to determine whether any masses are present that could be causing the problem.
Once the reason for the incontinence is identified, treatment options could include:
*When it comes to phenylpropanolamine, Proin is the brand most commonly prescribed for dogs, but it has unpleasant side effects so I don’t recommend it.
In some cases, collagen injections have shown promise by acting as a bulking agent to help reduce leakage. The dog may still need other medication after this procedure, but it has proved to be beneficial when drugs alone were ineffective.
Meanwhile, there are a number of things you can do to give your dog relief from his symptoms, and to manage the issue so it doesn’t become a cause of frustration in the home:
In some instances, you may have to simply live with the problem, but always remain aware that incontinence is not the dog’s fault. Most of the time, dogs are completely unaware that they are affected, and avoid any form of reprimand that can cause your dog anxiety.