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According to Vetmed.wsu.edu, “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.”
Petmd.com lists the following as symptoms of urinary incontinence:
Urine leakage (involuntary peeing)
Wet hair on the lower abdominal area, or between the rear legs
Wet spots or puddles in the bedding or sleeping area
Inflammation of the skin around the genitals
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. Petmd.com 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:
Weak bladder sphincter
Urinary tract infection
Spinal injury or degeneration (frequently seen in German Shepherds)
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 vetmed.wsu.edu, “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:
Older dogs experience urinary incontinence as a result of weakening muscles that hold urine in the bladder. Vetmd.wsu.edu 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.”
Vetmd.wsu.edu lists the following questions that your veteranarian may ask you to help determine the cause and subsequent treatment of urinary incontinence:
The age when incontinence first appeared
When the incontinence is usually observed, for example at rest or with activity
Whether your dog can urinate normally
Previous surgeries (such as neutering) and illness
Use of medications that might cause the urine to be diluted, such as diuretics, anticonvulsants or prednisone
How much water your dog drinks
How frequently your dog urinates and whether he seems to be uncomfortable when urinating
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 vetmd.wsu.edu, “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:
Take your dog for more frequent walks, including first thing in the morning and shortly after he wakes from a nap.
Consider using doggie diapers, which are available at many pet stores.
Please consult with your vet before limiting your dog’s water intake.
Provide proper hygiene to prevent any related skin infections.
Always monitor your dog’s condition, since it can quickly accelerate to infection, especially in elderly dogs.
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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