There are many clinical reasons for dog incontinence. A well-trained dog will not want to urinate or defecate in the house unless there’s a problem. Before jumping to conclusions about your dog’s behaviour, consider the implications of a medical condition and have your dog seen by a veterinarian
Don’t Lose Your Juice Over A Little Dog Incontinence
Dog incontinence typically isn’t anything to worry about and is usually caused by the changing hormones of a female dog. It could also signify an infection. I’ve known dog owners who immediately jump to the “bad behavior” conclusion when it’s obviously not that at all. Being a smart dog owner, I know you’re here to get to the bottom of the behavior and protect your dog from any type of illness or infection.
1. Age -- Related Dog Incontinence
Many owners assume that incontinence is just part of a dog getting older and that when it happens there is nothing we can do about it. This is not the case. There are lots of reasons why your dog is losing control of her bladder and it is essential to get to the root cause of the problem in order to treat the problem. Hormone production naturally decreases as your dog ages which is why by the time they are middle-aged or older, they begin to suffer from incontinence.
Even dogs have a mid-life crisis and it could be what’s happening to your spayed, female dog. It’s less of a psychological problem and more of an aging, weakening body issue. As your dog ages, her sphincter muscles are unable to hold pee as long as it used to. Hey, I’m middle-aged and I feel for the poor dog. A middle-aged dog (depending on the breed and size of the dog in relation to its lifespan) is generally thought to be between 7 and 9 years old. Upwards of that and you’re starting to look at old age.
2. Dog Incontinence Might Have Something to do With the Dog Breed
Here are 3 examples of specific breed types that might be more susceptible to incontinence as they age:
- Old English Sheepdogs
- Doberman Pinschers
3. Is it Simply Submissive Incontinence?
You’ll see this mostly in puppies who haven’t been adequately trained yet. They might pee in a new place, when scared or scolded. When a puppy hasn’t yet learned what it means to be submissive, he or she might pee as a way for them to communicate their submissiveness to you. Unfortunately, most owners don’t appreciate the sentiment
4. Maybe It Has to do With Being Spayed
It’s vital to have your female dog spayed, but studies have shown that having her spayed before three months of age can cause problems with incontinence later in life. In addition, older spayed females will experience a drop in estrogen (just like we do, ladies). After the estrogen drop, neurotransmitter receptors in your dog’s sphincter doesn’t register the need to store urine.
This can be treated with hormonal medication to balance the lacking hormone or with phenylpropanolamine which helps increase the pressure and strength of the urethral sphincter allowing urine to be held in the bladder.
5. Have You Had Her Checked for a Bladder Infection Lately?
If you’ve ever had a bladder or kidney infection yourself, then you know what that’s like. It feels like you constantly have to pee and it hurts like H.E. double hockey sticks. A bladder infection is a common cause of incontinence, especially in female adults.
Clinical signs of a bladder infection in a dog include:
- Frequent urination, especially in the house.
- Some blood or pink streaks in the urine
- Dribbling urine.
- Showing signs of pain when urinating
- Straining to pee
- Constantly licking the genitals
If you suspect a bladder infection is a reason for your dog’s incontinence, make sure to have the dog checked by a licensed veterinarian. Bladder infections are painful but can be treated successfully with medication.
6. Have you Thought About Nerve Compression?
Damage or disease to the spinal cord can cause the compression of nerves which results in the loss of urinary control. This is something repeatedly seen in German Shepherds.
Spinal cord disorders can be caused by a number of things including:
- congenital defects
- degenerative diseases,
- inflammatory and infectious diseases
- nutritional disease
- injury and trauma
- toxic disorders
- vascular diseases.
7. How Much Water is Your Dog Drinking?
We all get thirsty, but overdoing it can cause the bladder to dribble and leak. In this case, incontinence is a sign of something more serious and it’s important to get to the bottom of it.
Causes of extreme thirst include:
- Diabetes mellitus
- Cushing’s syndrome
- Kidney failure
- Urinary tract infection
SO, WHAT DO I DO TO FIX IT?
If the source of your dog’s incontinence is more than just being too young to know better or the occasional dribble due to aging, give your vet a call and book an appointment In order to get to the bottom of your dog’s condition.
The veterinarian may want to do a blood workup and urinalysis. They may want to check blood pressure and a variety of other things to test for underlying conditions.
When Can I Expect the Problem to Clear Up
The majority of incontinence causes are treatable with medication and simple changes in lifestyle and care. However, some spinal issues may require surgery if the issue does not subside following medication and other treatment.
YOUR PATIENT IS GOING TO NEED SOME PATIENCE!
Incontinence is not your dog’s fault, there is an underlying medical reason that is causing it. In fact, your dog is probably embarrassed by the accidents inside the house. You can help make your dog more comfortable by placing plenty of clean towels and blankets in your dog’s bed, taking frequent walks (especially first thing in the morning and after your dog has been napping) and by using dog diapers or waterproof pads in key areas if necessary.
None of us are getting any younger and we all could use a little patience and understanding now and then. Your dog is family, so make sure to extend the courtesy to your pooch.