You head to your dog’s kennel to get her out when you see wet spots in her bedding. Later that day, you notice a few leaks on your floor or even a whole puddle of urine.
Is your housetrained pup having trouble controlling her bladder all of a sudden?
Unfortunately for you and your furry friend, urinary incontinence – the inability to control the bladder – isn’t uncommon in dogs.
This post will help you figure out why your dog could be leaking urine, how to manage urinary incontinence in dogs, and how to treat the underlying issue.
What causes urinary incontinence in dogs?
There are a few reasons your dog could be leaking urine.
The most common cause of urinary incontinence in dogs is called spay incontinence. As you may have guessed, this type of incontinence happens after a dog is spayed.
The spaying procedure can weaken the muscles around the urinary sphincter, which means your dog can’t hold her urine as well.
According to VetStreet, “20% of all spayed female dogs develop incontinence within 3 years of being spayed.”
Other potential causes of urinary incontinence include:
- Hormone imbalance, especially estrogen imbalance
- Urinary tract infections (UTI) or urinary stones
- Prostate issues
- Conditions that make your dog more thirsty (for example, diabetes and kidney disease)
- Birth defects
- Spinal injuries
- Medications that increase urination (for example, diuretics and steroids)
How will I know if my dog has urinary incontinence?
Asking yourself these questions may help you figure out whether incontinence may be a concern:
- Is your dog dripping urine?
- Have you noticed skin irritation or redness near your dog’s genitals?
- Is your dog excessively licking around his or her genitals?
Answering “yes” to any of these questions could be a sign that it’s time to visit the vet.
A formal diagnosis will come from your veterinarian. In order to make the diagnosis, the doggy-doc may run a urinalysis and take a urine culture.
In some cases, urinary incontinence can progress to serious bladder, kidney, or skin infections.
Are certain dogs at higher risk of developing urinary incontinence?
Just like any human, any dog can develop urinary incontinence; however, these are a few characteristics that may increase your little friend’s risk:
- Larger dogs
- Middle-aged to older spayed females
- Cocker spaniels, Springer spaniels, Doberman pinschers, Old English sheepdogs
- Dogs spayed before they are 3 months old (although dogs spayed before their first heat have lower incidence of urinary incontinence)
What should I do if I think my dog has urinary incontinence?
- Manage urine leakage at home.
- Put down towels, clean blankets, or waterproof pads where your dog sleeps.
- Take walks after bedtime and after naps to encourage your dog to eliminate her urine.
- Be sure to clean the skin around your dog’s genitals to avoid skin infections.
- Consider using doggie diapers until the problem is solved.
- Visit the vet to confirm a diagnosis and figure out the cause.
- If your doggie is diagnosed with urinary incontinence, your vet may prescribe medications for treatment. In severe cases or when urinary incontinence is caused by a birth defect or bladder stone, your vet may recommend surgery.
What medications can treat my dog’s urinary incontinence?
The most common prescription medication for treating urinary incontinence in dogs is diethylstilbesterol or DES. DES is a synthetic form of estrogen and should only be used for female dogs who have been spayed.
DES comes in a capsule form and helps your dog maintain urine control.
Be warned: Spayed female dogs taking DES or other estrogen-based products may attract more attention from male dogs.
Almost 90% of dogs with urinary incontinence respond well to phenylpropanolamine or PPA. PPA works by smoothing the muscles in the urethral sphincter so they work properly.
Even though PPA can be hard to find, the knowledgeable pharmacists at The Compounding Center make special preparations just for your dog!
TCC pharmacists can prepare PPA in various strengths to fit your dog’s specific needs and can even prepare it in chicken- or fish-flavored liquid.
PPA may increase anxiety or blood pressure, so you may want to choose another option if your dog has anxiety disorders or hypertension.
Prazosin or Phenoxybenzamine
These two medications work by blocking the nerve receptors in the muscles of the urethra. That way, your doggie doesn’t have as much of a desire to urinate.
Because these medications can also decrease blood pressure, they may not be good options for pups with low blood pressure.
The friendly pharmacists at The Compounding Center also compound prazosin and phenoxybenzamine in capsule form!