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Dog Incontinence Treatment

Dog incontinence treatment options vary, depending on what's causing the problem.

Sometimes the loss of control is the whole problem, other times it's just a symptom of another underlying issue.

It's also an involuntary behavior (in other words, your poor dog has no control over the leaky plumbing!).

The good news is that there's something you can do for just about every dog who's having trouble controlling his/her urine.

There are also ways to help make an incontinent dog more comfortable, and to minimize the mess while treatment options are underway.

If Fido or Fifi is constantly dribbling urine, wets the bed at night, or seems to need to pee every 30 seconds, help is at hand.


The Right Treatment For Dog Incontinence 

There are lots of different reasons why your puppy or dog is having trouble controlling her bladder.

Some of them are obvious. Perhaps she's still a very young puppy (under 6 weeks old) or a tiny/teacup breed, in this case her nervous system is probably still just a little immature.

Or she may be a senior dog, whose body is at the mercy of the aging process (which will get us all eventually!), and who needs a little extra help.

Then there are a host of diseases, illnesses and conditions that can have incontinence as just one of many symptoms.

Scroll down to learn more about the most common reasons why dogs have trouble controlling their bladders, and what to do about it.


Treating Your Dog's Urinary Tract Infection

The only real cure for dog bladder infection is a course of the correct, and specific, antibiotics.

As infections can be caused by different bacteria, your veterinarian will need to take a urine sample and test it before prescribing a medication that is effective against that specific bacteria.

Some natural products can help ease symptoms, or can be effective in preventing cystitis from developing by keeping the urinary tract functioning properly, but personally I wouldn't rely on them to cure an active infection.

If your pup/dog has recurrent UTI's, Petwellbeing Urinary Gold contains natural ingredients that help to regulate the ph balance of her bladder and strengthen her immune system.

PetAlive UTI-Free is designed to relieve and soothe the symptoms of a urinary tract infection as well boosting immune function and preventing future recurrences.

PetAlive Better Bladder Control Granules (also available in spray form) is a homeopathic product which strengthens weak sphincter muscles and improves bladder control to put an end to dribbling. It can be a great choice for older dogs.

Because the bacteria can spread through your dog's urinary tract to her kidneys it needs to be treated quickly and properly or there can be serious consequences.

Bladder stones can either cause a bladder infection in dogs, or be the result of having one. These stones can be very dangerous so your vet will check for them.

Bottom line, get your pup/dog to your vet if you think she may have a UTI so that it can be treated promptly!


Treating Incontinence In Dogs After Spay Surgery

With somewhere between 5% and 20% of dogs experiencing some degree of incontinence (ranging from minor and temporary to more severe and long-lasting), hormone-responsive incontinence is a definite issue.

Sometimes localized swelling or 'trauma' from the surgery, or the effects of anesthesia or strong pain-killers, can cause your dog to lose control of her bladder for a few hours, or a few days after surgery.

This is temporary and your girl should be back to normal soon.

BUT, in other cases the change in hormone levels (drop in estrogen) can be behind the sudden leaky faucet.

This can happen immediately after surgery or weeks, months or even years later.

If your dog has problems with bladder control after being spayed, and they don't resolve themselves within a few days, then this is something to consider.

Luckily the treatment for spay-related incontinence is usually easy, and effective.

A medication that tightens the sphincter muscles (between the bladder and ureter) might be used.

There are a few to choose from including Propalin and Proin which contains the active ingredient Phenylpropanolamine (aka PPA), a form of decongestant.

The drug Imipramine is also sometimes prescribed by veterinarian to treat incontinence, either by itself or alongside other medications. 

Estrogen supplements or replacements are often effective too.

In 2011 the FDA approved a drug called 'Incurin' which contains the natural estrogen hormone estriadol.

Incurin is a fairly new drug, and so extended studies on side effects aren't available. Generally these are considered to be mild and include loss of appetite, excessive water consumption and swollen vulva area.

However, some owners have noticed significant behavioral changes in their dogs while taking Incurin.

Although some behavior change isn't unexpected (given that this drug is a hormone replacement), they shouldn't be severe.

Extreme friendliness toward other dogs (to the point of being obnoxious), or heightened aggressiveness or anxiety, are not normal and I'd recommend discussing any sign of these with your own veterinarian.

If you check out the Facebook Comments section at the very bottom of this page you'll find visitors have posted about their dogs experiences with Incurin.

I think they're worth reading.

Diethylstilbestrol (aka DES a synthetic estrogen) is also used, and sometimes a combination of PPA and DES is recommended.

Which drug is prescribed/recommended depends on the individual circumstances and the severity of the problem. It's your vet's call.

For male dogs with hormone-related incontinence sometimes testosterone injections can relieve the symptoms. But, this might cause a rise in other male behaviors such as scent-marking that are common in un-neutered dogs.

Alternative and natural treatments can help in some cases. Herbal blends and supplements, acupuncture and homeopathic options have all had positive results in some dogs.


Incontinence Caused By Physical Defects

If your pup or dog has some type of malformation or defect in her urinary tract that is causing her loss of bladder control, then surgery is her best option.

Ectopic Ureter (a congenital defect where the ureter doesn't carry urine to the bladder) can often be corrected surgically, but it isn't a 'sure thing'.

If your vet suspects this is a problem for your pup, first he'll use a physical exam, urine analysis and most likely X-rays, ultrasound or a CT scan to make an accurate diagnosis (and to see exactly how the ureter is placed and where it empties).

Studies show that approximately half of these surgeries will be a complete success. 

For the other half, the dog's incontinence will usually be improved, but not necessarily completely removed. 

In those cases medication can often help clear up remaining symptoms.


Incontinence Due to Neurological, Spinal Problems

Your dog's nervous system is controlled by a set of impulses and signals that set out from his brain and then travel through his body via his spinal column and nerves.

This means that any injuries or disease of the brain, spine or nervous system can cause problems in any other part of the body, including bladder/bowel control.

In this case it's not the incontinence that needs to be fixed so much as the injury or disease that's causing the incontinence.

Because there are so many different possibilities such as brain or spinal tumors, degenerative diseases, injuries, inflammation and so on, there's no way to give you one treatment option.

If your dog's incontinence is also accompanied by other symptoms such as weakness or lameness in the rear, loss of co-ordination or balance, seizures, difficulty with bowel movements and so on, then it's worth considering neurological issues being at the root of his problem.

You'll need your vet to give him a thorough check-up and take it from there.


Incontinence As A Symptom Of Other Diseases

As with the incontinence that is a result of a neurological or spinal problem, it can also show up as a symptom in a whole host of other illnesses and diseases.

Loss of bladder control or excessive urination can be caused by diabetes, Cushing's Disease, Addison's Disease, kidney or liver problems, tumors or diseases of the urinary tract, prostate trouble and more.

The key is usually the other symptoms that you're seeing. 

Excessive thirst, hair loss, weight loss (or weight gain), changes in appetite, fatigue, diarrhea, vomiting, panting/pacing or signs of stress or pain, and so on are all symptoms that you should pay attention to.

If your dog has problems controlling her/his urine, and other symptoms of illness (or just seems 'off' to you in some way), it's definitely worth having your veterinarian take a closer look and find out what's at the root of the problem.

Once you treat the underlying health condition, her bladder control will return.


The Stress & Anxiety Link To Incontinence

Losing bladder control (and sometimes bowel control too) can be a symptom of psychological problems as well as physical ones.

A puppy or dog who is seriously stressed or in a state of high-anxiety can get so upset that their emotions literally overtake their physical self-control and the result can be a puddle (or worse).

Submissive urination is a prime example, and it's NOT a house-training issue or a physical limitation, it's a behavioral one.

It's an involuntary behavior and your pup/dog can't help it if she piddles at the feet of a stranger, or when she meets a dog she doesn't know, or hears the vacuum cleaner, or......

Getting cross with her will only make the situation worse. If you click on the link in the earlier paragraph you can learn how to handle submissive urination in a way that will help her overcome her 'issues'.

True separation anxiety is another thing that can make your pup lose control of her bodily functions.

If she gets hysterical when left alone, the level of her fear can make her behave in a 'wild' way. Howling, scratching, throwing herself around, even peeing and/or pooping uncontrollably.

You need to find a way to reduce her anxiety and fear, then the other behaviors will also resolve themselves.


Incontinence In Older Dogs

Managing Incontinence In Dogs

Obviously it's most important to treat whatever is causing your dog to have trouble with her bladder control, but it's also important to try to help relieve the discomfort and keep your home from being constantly damp.

  • Doggie diapers for girls and belly bands for boys can be a Godsend if you have a dog who is constantly dribbling urine. There are disposable and washable options and most dogs tolerate them well.

  • Find a water-resistant dog bed, and put rubber or plastic-backed blankets (you can make these yourself) on furniture or beds.

  • If you have a small-breed dog, consider adding pee-pads or a doggie litterbox to each room so that your dog doesn't have far to go if she gets a sudden urge to pee.

Some additional side-effects of dog incontinence can be 'scalding' (basically when the acid in urine burns the skin), inflammation and infection.

You can relieve this discomfort by:

  • Keeping your pets skin clean and dry can go a long way towards reducing these issues. 

  • Use baby wipes (unscented), medicated wipes, or unscented soap and water to keep the tummy area clean. Use just plain lukewarm water for the vulva or tip of the penis if necessary.

  • If the skin is just irritated, a little vaseline petroleum jelly or aloe vera gel can be soothing. Remember that your dog is likely to be licking this area, a  lot, so don't use anything that might be toxic (including diaper rash cream that contains zinc)

But if there's a lot of redness, swelling or the area feels hot, chances are there's some infection there and you'll need to get antibiotics and/or anti-inflammatory medications from your vet.

A good urine and odor remover is worth having on hand to clean up dribbles and puddles.

Also, a good supply of patience and a lot of love is necessary. Remember, your dog can't help dribbling or flooding, there's something wrong and she's relying on you to help her get better.

Don't limit her water intake (unless your vet recommends it as part of her treatment) in an effort to reduce the amount of pee she produces. 

This is more likely to lead to dehydration or a UTI which will just make the situation worse, not better.

There are natural supplements which can help improve your dog's bladder health and function (but they're not a cure of incontinence). 

Occasionally, incontinence can be caused by a sensitivity or allergy to a dog food ingredient or is linked to medication or supplement.

Grains can be one of the problems in dog food, and switching to a grain-free diet or preparing your dog's food at home can sometimes help.


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