Are You Dealing with Dog Incontinence? How To Tell if Your Dogโ€™s Urinary Issues Point to Incontinence

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Improper urination can be related to many different underlying health concerns or behavioral issues. Learn more here about how to get your dog's incontinence under control.

There are all sorts of reasons why a formerly house-trained dog can develop an incontinence problem, ranging from serious disease and conditions to behavior issues. For middle aged or senior dogs, the incontinence is most likely an age-related condition that is the result of weakened muscles no longer capable of properly controlling the flow of urine. Bladder control is particularly affected when the dog is resting or sleeping. Regardless of the reason for your dog’s incontinence, be aware that your dog is not intentionally having accidents.

Since there is such a wide range of causes, it’s recommended that you visit the veterinarian to determine the cause and get proper treatment. Learn about some of the most common symptoms and causes for incontinence below.

Possible Causes for Incontinence

Once a dog is house trained, incontinence is most commonly observed in middle-aged or elderly dogs, who lose strength in the sphincter muscle with age. It’s particularly common with spayed females, since they have a shortage of the hormone estrogen, which helps maintain the muscle tone of the sphincter. Some other potential causes of incontinence are:

  • Disease such as diabetes, kidney disease, or hypothyroidism: These diseases all lead to increased thirst and increased water drinking. With more water being ingested, dogs have a corresponding need to urinate more frequently, which can sometimes result in an inability to properly hold it and go in the appropriate place.

  • Ectopic ureter: Although it’s not necessarily the most common cause, an ectopic ureter, or misaligned ureter which fails to properly connect the bladder and the kidneys, can also cause a dog to experience incontinence.

  • Behavioral issues: Submissive urination is a stress-related cause of involuntary urination, which is characterized by the dog assuming a submissive (think: belly up) position while urinating. This may occur when your dog is scolded, or confronted by a dog or person that the dog sees as an alpha. If the urination occurs when you come home or play with the dog, and is not accompanied by a submissive position, it’s called excitement urination.

  • Infections: Bladder infections or UTIs can cause incontinence as a side effect. Urine analysis and a course of medications will generally identify and treat these infections, and with the treatment, the symptoms of incontinence will dissipate.

Get more detailed information on the primary causes of incontinence in dogs.


Most typically, you’ll spot urine in the area where your dog sleeps. Another very common symptom is that your dog will lick around their penis or vulva. The genital areas may also become red as a result of the licking. Discover more details on how to detect the symptoms of incontinence.

Diagnosis and Treatment:

When it comes to diagnosis, your vet will evaluate your dog based on the history you provide, and run blood and urine tests accordingly. For instance, blood tests can determine if a bladder or urinary tract infection is causing the incontinence. Treatment can often be a matter of medication to strengthen the sphincter muscles or replenish hormones, such as Proin. Find out more about how vets will diagnose and treat incontinence.

More on Dog Health

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Aging and Old Dog Behaviors
7 of the Top Dog Cystitis Treatments

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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