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Vet Minute

Vet Minute: Dog is Incontinent

October 27, 2022


Vet Minute: Dog Is Incontinent

Last updated: September 17, 2022

We are talking about urinary incontinence in dogs. In this Vet Minute, Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services Dr. Marty Greer talks about what to do if your dog is incontinent.
If you have more questions on dog incontinence, or if need help, call us at 800.786.4751.

Dog Incontinence Causes

If your dog is leaking urine, what is causing that? Well, if it’s a very young puppy that never had good bladder control, that can potentially be a serious condition called an ectopic ureter. That requires veterinary intervention as soon as you recognize the problem. For most dogs, they go through periods when they’re very young of not being particularly, well housebroken. But they can hold their urine. They just don’t hold it for as long as we like. Those are the seven-minute dogs, the ones that need to go outside every seven minutes to go potty. That’s pretty common. That’s not incontinence. That’s a housebreaking and a development issue in a young puppy. But after the dogs become housebroken and reliable, most dogs should be able to hold their bladder control very well. And urinary incontinence is primarily a problem in the female dog. Not as often in male dogs that are neutered, but most often in female dogs one to two years after they’re spayed. And there’s actually a term for it, spay incontinence.

Natural Remedies for Dog Urinary Incontinence

Unfortunately, there are not a lot of things that we can do. We can certainly fall back on the Doc Roy’s Potassium Citrate and Cranberry. to see if that gives us some improvement. But if it doesn’t, then we do need to seek veterinary care. Dogs that were pretty well housebroken and then suddenly become incontinent may very well have a bladder infection. In that case, you want to have the dog evaluated by a veterinarian, preferably with ultrasound or X-ray, to look for stones, to look for tumors, and to look for an infection. If the infection is found, of course we’re going to proceed with treatment at that point. If no infection is found, vets are going to be looking at a drug like Incurin, which is a prescription item that helps. It’s an estrogen supplement that helps with spay incontinence in the older female dog that has been spayed and at one time was housebroken, but then starts to lose her bladder control.

When to Make the Vet Appointment

If your dog is leaking urine, when should you take him to the vet? You shouldn’t wait too long because it’s going to cause problems in your house, your carpet, your bed. It’s going to start to become smelly and messy. And it’s not something that you want to wait on. And unfortunately, the literature reports that up to 20% of spayed female dogs will develop incontinence. I personally think that it’s higher. It’s up to 80% in boxers. But I personally think it’s higher.

I think a lot of people are embarrassed to talk to their veterinarian about this. So they just put their dogs in little diapers, or they change the bedding frequently and they just don’t complain about it because they assume that that’s just a normal aging change. But in reality, it’s not. Veterinarians can help you a lot with this particular condition.

Dog Incontinence and Age

A four-month-old puppy leaking urine is different than old dog incontinence. What is the difference when it comes to that old dog incontinence? That, again, gets back to the fact that her hormones are gone. She just no longer has the muscle control. So it’s different than a puppy that doesn’t really have the ability to communicate and control their bladder well until you get to the door, versus a dog that’s laying down, resting, sleeping, and then wakes up in a puddle of urine or she wakes up in a puddle of urine. So just be aware that it’s pretty common. It’s not something to be embarrassed about and it is something that your veterinarian can help you with, with a prescription medication.

Marty Greer, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, has 35+ years’ experience in veterinary medicine, with special interests in canine reproduction and pediatrics. She received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Iowa State University in 1981. She’s served as Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services since 2019.

If you need help, call us at 800.786.4751.