Dog Incontinence Causes & Treatment

Urinary incontinence can be caused by many things, but the most common reason in dogs is hormone-induced. Incontinence is a medical symptom, not a behavioral or training problem, so never punish a dog with this issue. Urinary incontinence in dogs is in fact rather common, especially in certain breeds of dogs, among female spayed dogs, and older dogs.

Just like us, in dogs, urine is retained in the bladder. During urination, the urine passes to the outside of the body through a small tube called the urethra. Urinary incontinence is involuntary or uncontrollable leaking of urine from the bladder.

Canine urinary incontinence is an illness symptom indicating that the dog is suffering from some underlying health problem, and is different from housetraining or behavior problems such as submissive urination.

Submissive urination occurs when a dog (usually a young pup) is acting submissive to a person or to another dog. Dogs with the behavior problem of submissive urination are not incontinent because they can control urination and can urinate normally when they are not showing submissive behavior.

There are several main causes of urinary incontinence in dogs, and understandably each requires different treatment. As dog parents, we probably cannot identify the exact cause if our dogs are incontinent. It is therefore important that a thorough examination by a vet be done before attempting any treatment for an incontinent dog.

Causes of Urinary Incontinence and Treatment

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Possible Causes of Dog Incontinence

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Estrogen-deficiency

This is the most common reason of urinary incontinence in dogs. Many spayed female dogs (and occasionally male neutered dogs) suffer from urinary incontinence because their normal hormone production is interrupted. The bladder's smooth muscle groups are functionally connected with a balance of reproductive hormones. Therefore, when the dog's hormonal production is changed, normal functioning of the bladder's muscles is also adversely affected.

If a dog is incontinent due to estrogen-deficiency, she typically "wets her bed" while she is resting or sleeping.

Arthritis or Hip Dysplasia

Dogs suffering from arthritis or hip dysplasia may also develop incontinence because nerve impairment caused by arthritis may also affect the muscle tone and proper functioning of the urinary tract.

If you have an older dog with urinary incontinence, see if he is also showing signs of arthritis.

Neurological Disorders

Incontinence in dogs can also be caused by neurological disorders, especially in older dogs or epileptic dogs. Dogs who have suffered trauma to the brain or spinal cord may also develop urinary incontinence. Dogs suffering from neurological disorders may dribble urine either intermittently or constantly, depending on the seriousness of the nerve damage.

If you suspect your dog has neurologic incontinence, look for other signs of nerve-related illness symptoms, such as loss of coordination, fainting, and epileptic episodes.

Ectopic Ureter

Ectopic ureter is a birth defect. It is an abnormally located terminal portion of the ureter. Instead of the ureter opening in the bladder, it opens in the urethra, vagina, or uterus. The result? Constant dribbling of urine.

This defect is more common in certain breeds, such as Siberian Huskies, Miniature Poodle, Labrador Retriever, Collie, Welsh Corgi, and some breeds of terrier. Also, female dogs are more likely to have this birth defect than males.

Other Diseases

A dog may also develop urinary incontinence as a result of other diseases, such as:

Drug-Related

Sometimes some drugs can cause an increase in urine volume. For example, diuretic drugs used to treat heart disease stimulate the kidneys to excrete more urine which may result in incontinence.

Other Possible Causes

Don't Blame the Dog!

As you can see, there are many possible causes of dog urinary incontinence and we most likely need the help of our veterinarian for a proper diagnosis. In the meantime, we have to be patient and observant, e.g. We need to look for other illness symptoms or behavioral changes in our dog.

And remember, when "accidents" happen in the house, do not blame or punish the poor dog - it is unfair and ineffective since the problem may be as a result of a medical ailment.

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Problems Resulting from Incontinence

Dogs suffering from urinary incontinence often have some related secondary problems. For example, they have a much higher incidence of bladder infections. In incontinent dogs, the muscular tissue at the base of the bladder is not strong and tight enough. Therefore, it is easier for bacteria to migrate up the urethra and colonize the bladder, causing infections.

In addition, dogs with urinary incontinence may be more prone to skin irritations caused by urine scalding. Since urine can burn the skin, if an incontinent dog "wets her bed" and the urine remains in contact with the skin for long periods of time, it can cause severe irritations.

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Treatment for Dog Incontinence

Treatment depends on the underlying cause. If the underlying cause can be identified, specific treatment of the cause may resolve incontinence. For example, surgery can be used to correct an ectopic ureter.

When no specific cause can be identified for the incontinence, drugs are given to increase the tone of the muscles that hold urine in the bladder. Since hormonal deficiency is a common cause of dog incontinence, replacements with hormones or hormone substitutes may also be prescribed. However, some of these drugs, such as diethylstilbestrol which is a synthetic female hormone (estrogen), may cause undesirable side effects to dogs.

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Natural Remedies for Dog Incontinence

Since conventional treatment for this health issue is not totally satisfactory at times, it is advisable to consider using natural remedies if your dog suffers from hormone-induced incontinence. Effective natural treatment options include the use of herbs, homeopathic remedies, and sometimes acupuncture. Please visit this page for more information.

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