If you’ve noticed your dog having accidents around the house or urinating while sleeping, you might assume that these signs of incontinence are just part of getting older. And that might be true. Age certainly can play a role in the loss of urinary control, but it’s not the only factor that can put a dog at risk. More importantly, there’s no reason to assume that there’s nothing you can do about a pet’s frequent urination. Understanding the causes and knowing how to care for an incontinent dog will allow you to make your pet more comfortable while reducing the number of accidents that happen in your home.
The most common cause of incontinence among neutered dogs is hormone deficiency, which affects the sphincter muscles that enable a dog to hold urine in the bladder. Birth defects, nerve damage, and age-related problems are also common causes that may or may not be successfully treated. Bacterial infections of the bladder may also result in signs of incompetence but the symptoms should disappear following a course of antibiotics.
Incontinence is sometimes confused with diseases that cause pets to urinate frequently or at unusual times. Before looking for medical reasons for your pet’s incontinence, you should rule out behavioral issues such as excited urination, submissive urination, marking territory, or incomplete house training.
Incontinent dogs are unable to control when and where they urinate. Your dog may void while sleeping or may leak urine at various times throughout the day while standing, lying down, or sitting. Other signs you may notice: your pet’s hindquarters are wet with urine, your dog frequently licks the genital area, and possible scaling around the penis or vulva.
In cases of estrogen or testosterone deficiency in neutered dogs, your veterinarian may prescribe hormone replacement therapy, which should improve the tone of the sphincter muscles. Other medications may also be used to restore sphincter muscle function. Surgery or other intrusive methods may be needed to correct birth defects. There are instances, however, in which incontinence cannot be corrected. For those dogs, you may need to rely on pet diapers or other supplies to help you manage your dog’s frequent urination.
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.