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Dog incontinence: what to do when your dog is leaking urine?

Urinary incontinence in a dog

Urinary incontinence in a dog can keep many caregivers awake at night.

It is not surprising, because it is quite a bothersome ailment, but in most cases it is curable.

It is important to be able to distinguish between sickness-related urination disorders and behavioral-related urination disorders.

Urinary incontinence in a dog the disease is caused by the animal's inability to control the urination process.

On the other hand, the incorrect socialization of the dog and ineffective cleanliness training and urine marking are not due to anatomical or functional reasons, but behavioral reasons.

Also urinating at home due to an overfilled bladder, because the dog is too rarely taken for walks, does not belong to the group of diseases affecting micturition disorders.

This is of particular importance in animals that produce a large amount of urine due to excessive thirst (seen in various diseases) or urine concentrating disorders, which is usually the case in dogs suffering from chronic renal failure.

In these cases, there is no incontinence disorder, and its excessive production or incorrect socialization, we can speak of alleged urinary incontinence due to behavioral reasons or inadequate frequency of walks.

  • Causes of urinary incontinence in a dog
    • Urinary incontinence due to sphincter disorders
    • Involuntary primary urinary incontinence
    • Urination by dropping with a full bladder
    • Congenital and acquired urinary incontinence due to abnormal anatomical structure
  • Management of animals with continence disorders
  • Treatment of urinary incontinence in a dog

Causes of urinary incontinence in a dog

Causes of urinary incontinence in a dog

Urinary incontinence, i.e. its involuntary leakage, can be caused by many factors of an anatomical and functional basis.

Disturbances in urination may be due to factors:

  • neuromuscular,
  • anatomical,
  • hormonal,
  • mental,
  • traumatic.

This is due to the fact that the process of proper urinary continence consists of many factors which, acting together, ensure the proper functioning of the lower urinary tract.

It should therefore be listed here:

  • the correct structure of the ureters and their opening at an appropriate distance from the bladder neck,
  • proper extensibility and elasticity of the bladder wall,
  • correct position of the bladder neck and urethra,
  • proper structure of the urethra and its sphincter.

In addition, the function of urination is controlled by the nervous system, so its disturbances may result in inappropriate control of urination.

Due to the cause of continence disorder, it can be divided into several groups.

Urinary incontinence due to sphincter disorders

It results from loss of tension in the neck of the bladder or the urethral sphincter, which leads to passive dripping of urine.

This process is especially intensified during stress.

It is characteristic urinary incontinence in a dog while sleeping, or when the animal is relaxed.

Urinary incontinence in bitches is caused by the weakening of the urethral muscles or the closure of the sphincter as a result of the caudal shift of the bladder neck.

Other causes of urinary incontinence in a dog include:

  • inflammation of the bladder and urethra,
  • prostate disease,
  • acquired or congenital abnormalities of the vaginal vestibule,
  • sequelae of injuries,
  • postoperative complications.

The most common causes of urinary incontinence in a dog (bitch) are hormonal disorders after sterilization.

Hormonal urinary incontinence results from decreased production estrogen.

Also in dogs (male), after castration, hormonal urinary incontinence may occur.

History and characteristic symptoms are most helpful in making a diagnosis, but of course a general urine test cannot be omitted.

During treatment, these animals respond well to hormone supplementation or medications that increase the tone of the urethral sphincter.

Involuntary primary urinary incontinence

Leaving urine in a dog

It is a passive, unstoppable urge to urinate caused by hyperactive or irritated muscles in the bladder, while the sphincter is functioning normally.

Strong stimuli from the bladder wall cause the detrusor muscle to contract and urinate to urinate.

The reasons are:

  • inflammation of the bladder, caused by infectious agents,
  • urinary stones,
  • bladder tumors.

Another reason may be a thickened and therefore inflexible wall of the bladder.

It leads to such a state chronic inflammation of the bladder or existing within it scars.

Difficult control of the dog's urination reflex also causes changes in the abdominal cavity, reducing its space and putting pressure on internal organs, such as:

  • obesity,
  • neoplastic growths,
  • prostate cysts.

The symptoms are:

  • difficult control over urination,
  • dog pollakiuria,
  • painful urge to urinate - pollakiuria with blood in a dog (hematuria).

In diagnosis, it is necessary to perform a urinalysis, usually combined with an ultrasound examination.

Introduction of causal treatment (antibiotic therapy in bacterial cystitis, surgical or dietary removal of stones, prostate therapy, etc.) usually improves quickly.

Urination by dropping with a full bladder

These are continence disorders in which the pressure in the bladder without the detrusor contracting exceeds the ability of the urethra to close.

The causes of urinary incontinence in a dog are usually:

  • spinal cord injuries in the sacral region,
  • damage to peripheral nerves.

Damage to the neuromuscular ganglia within the bladder wall as a result of acute, overstretching of the bladder, usually caused by prolonged obstruction of the urinary tract, also causes such symptoms.

A less common cause may be general muscle weakness as a result of a metabolic disorder.

Thus, the wall of the bladder filled with urine is stretched to the maximum and its uncontrolled outflow, this is the so-called. paradoxical urinary incontinence.

The animal cannot urinate properly for neurological reasons, so it accumulates in the bladder.

When the pressure limit in the bladder is exceeded, urine flows out passively.

The bladder is usually very enlarged, atonic, and the urine comes out in droplets.

The only way to completely empty the bladder is by catheterization or squeezing.

Clinical examination, including neurological examination, imaging diagnostics and complete blood and urine tests play a fundamental role in diagnosis.

In treatment, the main thing is to remove the causes, i.e. spine surgery and decompression of the spinal cord, unfortunately it is not always possible and effective, so the prognosis is careful.

In metabolic diseases, improvement is usually achieved after finding the cause and introducing therapy.

In all cases, you should regularly empty your bladder by catheterization or manually pressing the urine out.

This is an essential step in regenerating the bladder wall.

Often secondary to cystitis, which also needs to be treated with antibiotics.

Congenital and acquired urinary incontinence due to abnormal anatomical structure

Congenital malformations affecting micturition are a very rare cause of urinary incontinence.

You can list here:

  • abnormal bladder structure,
  • underdevelopment of the bladder,
  • shortening of the urethra,
  • caudal displacement of the bladder,
  • ureteral abnormalities.

The most common developmental flaw are ectopic ureters, the mouth of which is near the bladder neck, in the urethra or in the vagina.

In this disease there is no mechanism to close the bladder, hence the accompanying urinary incontinence.

Acquired structural abnormalities such as bladder dislocation, urethral tumors, urogenital surgery, and trauma are also possible, which may limit urethral closure function.

It is most helpful in making a diagnosis ultrasound examination.

Surgical operations to correct structural abnormalities play a key role in the treatment.

Management of animals with continence disorders

Management of animals with continence disorders

An interview is very important in making a diagnosis of why an animal is incontinent.

Therefore, the guardian should consider:

  • what exactly is the problem with his dog,
  • how long it has been around,
  • whether the animal is dropping,
  • whether he urinates unknowingly while sleeping,
  • whether excessive thirst is present,
  • whether they are accompanied by other symptoms beyond the urinary system.

The position of the animal when urinating is also important.

It is important to establish the date of castration or sterilization of the animal, the diseases it suffers from and the medications currently being taken.

Veterinarian during the visit:

  • will examine the patient in general,
  • will evaluate the external genitalia,
  • palpation of the bladder and other abdominal organs.

A rectal examination of the male prostate will also be required.

After that, the doctor may conduct a neurological examination.

In all patients, it is necessary to perform a general urinalysis to assess the functioning of the urinary system.

Occasionally, urine should also be collected for culture.

Complementary is ultrasound examination of the urinary system.

It is also worth taking blood tests to assess the morphology, kidney and liver function, and hormone levels.

In case of suspicion of the neurological background of the disease, it will be necessary to conduct it radiological examination.

Treatment of urinary incontinence in a dog

Treatment of urinary incontinence in a dog

Treatment and prognosis depend on the causes of the disease.

With bacterial cystitis, it usually improves after a few days of antibiotic therapy, often combined with anti-inflammatory drugs.

However, it is important to continue treatment with antibiotics for a minimum of 2 weeks and to follow up urine tests.

In the existing one bladder stones surgical removal of plaque may be necessary, combined with the use of appropriate veterinary food.

If only crystals are present, it is possible that only a proper diet is sufficient.

In hormonal urinary incontinence, hormone supplementation or drugs acting on the urethral sphincter quickly correct the problem, but should be used throughout life.

Unfortunately, it is not always possible to completely cure an animal.

You can then apply dog nappies, which will protect the apartment against pollution.

Specials are available diapers for dogs, but you can also try to choose the right size among baby diapers, but then it is necessary to cut a hole for the tail.

Usually dogs tolerate well dog panties for urinary incontinence, However, it is worth remembering about hygiene in the area of ​​the urethra, in order to prevent the development of inflammation.

So you should wash the animal in areas contaminated with urine, you can later use disinfecting or moisturizing preparations for animals in cream or liquid.


I hope that I was able to explain briefly why a dog may develop urinary incontinence.

If you have questions related to this topic, feel free to leave a comment under the article, I will write back as soon as possible.

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