For incontinence or dogs that 'leak', particularly spayed bitches and older pets.
Urinary Incontinence In Dogs
Urinary incontinence in dogs, means your dog has the inability to retain urine in his bladder … in other words, bladder leaks.
The urinary system is quite elegant. Urine is produced by the kidneys and fed through the ureters to the bladder. A sphincter (circular muscle) keeps the passage to outside closed until it’s voluntarily opened during urination. At that point, urine flows through the urethra to whatever object your dog decides to gift with his or her scent.
When the sphincter doesn’t stay fully tightened, involuntary leakage occurs. If the bladder is too full, urine can overflow into the urethra and escape. This often happens while your dog is resting or sleeping, or when she gets up from lying down.
Dribbling urine can also be a behavior issue if it happens when your dog is frightened or being submissive.
Signs Of Incontinence In Dogs
I probably don’t need to tell you how you’ll know your dog is incontinent. It’s usually pretty obvious!
The most common sign of urinary incontinence in dogs is wet spots wherever your dog sleeps.
You might also notice …
- Dampness around the hindquarters and thighs
- Dribbling urine as she walks
- Irritated skin or redness from the dripping (urine is caustic and can burn)
- Licking the vulva or penis more than usual
- Dribbling urine when she is excited, frightened, submissive, or stressed
What Causes Incontinence In Dogs
There are many potential causes and contributors to incontinence, including:
- Low estrogen (the most common cause in spayed female dogs).
- Spinal cord or nerve disease or injury.
- Degenerative myelopathy.
- Overexertion, overstretching, or injury to the muscles of the lower back. Inflammation can impede the nerves running through the area.
- Urinary tract infection.
- Bladder stones.
- Enlarged prostate.
- Hormonal abnormality that causes excessive thirst and urination, such as thyroid disease, Cushing’s disease, kidney disease, or diabetes.
- Congenital anatomic abnormalities.
- Masses, cysts, or polyps impeding the sphincter muscle.
What this adds up to is the need for adequate testing to pin down an accurate diagnosis.
Breeds Prone to Incontinence
Research shows that females are more prone to urinary incontinence in dogs than males. Two UK studies found that urinary incontinence affects 3% of females overall, but more than 15% in high risk breeds. These include …
- Irish Setter
- Bearded Collie
- Rough Collie
Prevalence in males is less than 1%, with breeds affected including …
- Bull Mastiff
- Irish Red Setter
- Fox terrier
Spay/Neuter Increases Incontinence
Urinary incontinence in dogs is more likely in spayed females, especially if they’re spayed early. One study of 492 female dogs concluded that …
“Neutering itself and early-age neutering (<6 months) are major risk factors for early-onset urinary incontinence.”
Another study found that size was a factor in spayed females developing USMI (urinary sphincter incompetence). For every month neuter was delayed in the dogs’ first year, the risk of USMI was reduced in dogs weighing over 25 kg. The risk did not change for dogs under 15 kg.
So, if you decide to spay your dog of 50 lbs or more, it’s best to defer the procedure as long as you can.
NO MEDICAL CLAIMS MADE WHATSOEVER