HOW TO Treat Your Dog’s Urinary Incontinence

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dog urinatingIf you have noticed that your dog seems to have lost control of his bladder and is urinating frequently, then your dog could be suffering from urinary incontinence.

According to, “Urinary incontinence is the involuntary passing of urine. Pets can be incontinent for many different reasons. Those reasons can involve the bladder, the urethra which is the tube from the bladder to the outside, or incontinence can be caused by abnormalities in the parts of the brain and spinal cord that control bladder function.”

Younger dogs can have urinary incontinence, but it mostly affects middle-age to large breed senior dogs. The ASPCA says, “Although urinary incontinence can afflict dogs of any age, breed or gender, it is most often seen in middle-aged to older spayed females; Cocker Spaniels, Springer Spaniels, Doberman Pinschers and Old English Sheepdogs are among the breeds often prone to incontinence.” lists the following as symptoms of urinary incontinence:

i Love Dogs Urine leakage (involuntary peeing)

i Love Dogs Wet hair on the lower abdominal area, or between the rear legs

i Love Dogs Wet spots or puddles in the bedding or sleeping area

i Love Dogs Urinary tract infections

i Love Dogs Inflammation of the skin around the genitals

i Love Dogs Moist tissue areas around the penis or vulva

What are the Causes of Urinary Incontinence?

A common cause of urinary incontinence is obesity as well as neutering. says, “However, most animals do not develop any medical disorders as a result of neutering; complications are uncommon. If there is incontinence related to neutering, it will be temporary, as the dog learns to control its urinary muscles again during the recovery process.”

The ASPCA lists the following as possible causes:

i Love Dogs Hormonal imbalance

i Love Dogs Weak bladder sphincter

i Love Dogs Urinary tract infection

i Love Dogs Urinary stones

i Love Dogs Spinal injury or degeneration (frequently seen in German Shepherds)

i Love Dogs Protruding intervertebral disc

i Love Dogs Prostate disorders

i Love Dogs Presence of other diseases that cause excessive water consumption, such as diabetes, kidney disease and hyperadrenocorticism

i Love Dogs Congenital abnormalities

i Love Dogs Anatomic disorders

i Love Dogs Certain medications

According to the ASPCA, “Some bouts of urinary incontinence ebb and wane, but others can progress and cause more serious bladder and kidney infections. A skin infection may result in areas that are in constant contact with urine.”

In younger dogs, urinary incontinence can be caused by a birth defect. According to, “The most common birth defect that causes incontinence in young dogs is ectopic ureter(s). The ureters carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder. If one or both ureters bypass the bladder and connect to an abnormal location such as the urethra or vagina, the puppy may drip urine. Siberian Huskies are most often affected. Other breeds that have a higher occurrence of this birth defect include:

i Love Dogs Miniature Poodle

i Love Dogs Labrador Retriever

i Love Dogs Collie

i Love Dogs Welsh Corgi

i Love Dogs Wire-haired Fox Terrier

i Love Dogs West Highland White Terrier

Older dogs experience urinary incontinence as a result of weakening muscles that hold urine in the bladder. says, “There are many diseases that can cause a pet to create more urine than normal (polyuria) and several of these occur in older pets. If a pet has one of these diseases and often has a full bladder, the full bladder can push against the weakened sphincter and cause incontinence. Older pets can also develop senility and simply be unaware that they are dribbling urine.”


What are the Treatment Options for Urinary Incontinence?

There are several options available for treating urinary incontinence but they depend solely on the causal condition, which is why you must get your dog to the vet as soon as possible so that they can run tests to determine the exact cause.

ASPCA says, “Treatment for incontinence will depend on its underlying cause. Medications can often effectively manage this condition and prevent everyday accidents. Some treatments focus on hormone therapy, while others, such as Propolin, strengthen the bladder muscles that control urine flow. Surgery also may be an option if medication alone doesn’t work. Collagen injections, a newer therapy for incontinence, appear to have promising results.” lists the following questions that your veteranarian may ask you to help determine the cause and subsequent treatment of urinary incontinence:

i Love Dogs The age when incontinence first appeared

i Love Dogs When the incontinence is usually observed, for example at rest or with activity

i Love Dogs Whether your dog can urinate normally

i Love Dogs Previous surgeries (such as neutering) and illness

i Love Dogs Use of medications that might cause the urine to be diluted, such as diuretics, anticonvulsants or prednisone

i Love Dogs How much water your dog drinks

i Love Dogs How frequently your dog urinates and whether he seems to be uncomfortable when urinating

i Love Dogs Whether your dog shows any signs of nervous system disease such as weakness or seizures

For dogs that have no specific symptoms but are clearly suffering, drugs may be given to increase the muscle tone that holds the urine in the bladder. According to, “Some drugs that are used for this purpose include estrogen, ephedrine and phenylpropanolamine. Drug therapy for incontinence may be based on ‘trial’ of different drugs in various doses. Since some of these drugs can have side effects so low doses are tried first. Some drugs may be slow to have an effect so as long as there are no undesirable side effects, a drug trial should continue for several weeks before the drug is considered not to be effective.”

What are Some Ways to Manage My Dog’s Urinary Incontinence?

The good news is that most dogs will recover from urinary incontinence, but there are some things you can do until your dog is back on all four paws.

According to the ASPCA, you can do the following:

i Love Dogs Pile clean blankets and towels in youryellow lab leash dog’s favorite sleeping spot, or put waterproof pads under his bedding to absorb any moisture.

i Love Dogs Take your dog for more frequent walks, including first thing in the morning and shortly after he wakes from a nap.

i Love Dogs Consider using doggie diapers, which are available at many pet stores.

i Love Dogs Please consult with your vet before limiting your dog’s water intake.

i Love Dogs Provide proper hygiene to prevent any related skin infections.

i Love Dogs Always monitor your dog’s condition, since it can quickly accelerate to infection, especially in elderly dogs.

PHOTOS: Glen Bowman, PK-Photos

Find A Vet HOW TO articles are intended for informational purposes only. You should always consult with your veterinarian about any health issues affecting your dog.

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Sonya Simpkins

Sonya Simpkins is a contributing writer for i Love Dogs, Inc. In her spare time, she loves to take her dogs for long hikes and treks to the beach, out to eat and on long road trips across the county. She then turns those adventures into useful advice for other dog parents who also love to take their dogs with them wherever they go.

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