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Dog Urinary Incontinence: What You Need to Know

: Christie Roening, for TAP

Has your pup been leaving puddles around the house? Maybe you notice little accidents while they snooze or while chewing their favorite bone. If you notice these new occurrences, without your dog posturing to urinate, please know your dog is not trying to enact revenge for not giving extra treats; it’s unintentional. Your beloved canine may be suffering from urinary incontinence. Although this condition is more common in female, spayed dogs, urinary incontinence can affect all dogs of any breed, size, gender, or age. 

Here at TAP, we have a few furry friends who need extra attention due to urinary incontinence. Many people shy away from potential pets who need the additional help, but once a treatment is determined, management is easier to deal with. These poor pups don’t even realize it’s a problem! They deserve at least a chance, don’t they?

What is Urinary Incontinence in Dogs and What Are the Signs?

Urinary incontinence is the involuntary leakage of urine. If your pup is incontinent, they are not aware they are even leaking. Dogs with incontinence will usually leak normal to large amounts, so it’s difficult to miss! However, it’s worth noting that this involuntary leakage will probably happen while your pup is relaxed or sleeping. You might also notice dribbles while your dog is walking around. In other words, your dog will be oblivious to peeing; they won’t be squatting or lifting their leg. If you notice any of these signs, talk to your vet as soon as possible to find out root causes and proper management.

What Are the Causes of Urinary Incontinence in Dogs?

There are several causes of involuntary urination with dogs. Some of the common ones are listed below:

  • Urinary tract infection
  • Urine retention
  • Uroliths (urinary bladder stones)
  • Excessive water drinking caused by Cushing’s Disease, diabetes, or kidney issues
  • Neurological issues such as brain lesions, spinal injuries, or damage to the nerves that control the bladder
  • Weak bladder or sphincter, caused by lessened sensitivity of sphincter receptors

Again, we cannot stress enough the importance of talking with your vet to get an appropriate diagnosis and treatment plan!

Treatments for Dog Urinary Incontinence

Your vet will run diagnostic tests and a physical exam to determine the specific cause of your dog’s incontinence. Certain medications may be used for certain causes and some may be more complicated than others. Here are some common treatments:

  • Urinary tract infection – Antibiotics are used to clear the infection
  • Uroliths (urinary bladder stones) – Diet and medication can be used in some instances. Many cases require surgery to remove the stones. Sometimes pain management is prescribed.
  • Excessive water drinking caused by Cushing’s Disease, diabetes, or kidney issues – Treating the root cause of excessive thirst can clear up the urine issues
  • Weak bladder or sphincter, caused by lessened sensitivity of sphincter receptors – Medication or surgery may be recommended

Dog Incontinence Products

Let’s talk about what to do about your pup’s leakage to make life a little easier for all. Quality products are available to prevent your dog’s skin from irritation and random wet spots. Check out some options:

Doggie Diapers 

Washable and disposable diapers are available, just like for humans. 

Image courtesy of Petco.com

  • Washable diapers involve a bit more elbow work with continuous washing and drying, though they are more comfortable for your pup and are quieter than disposable. Also, they’re environmentally friendly.
  • Disposable diapers are convenient because they’re used once, then tossed. However, this can be costly. Disposable diapers should be changed frequently, to avoid skin rashes and sores.

Finding the right size diaper is important for your pet. Keep in mind, sizes are usually measured by weight and a male dog may need to go up a size, due to anatomy.

How do you keep your dog from scooting out of their diapers? Thankfully, there are easy solutions. Pet suspenders can be found at pet stores and help keep the diaper at bay. The concept sounds kind of weird, but it’s similar to wearing a harness. Another option is using an infant onesie over the diaper, to keep it in place. 

Remember to change the dog diaper often, to prevent infections, irritation, and burning.
Skin ointments and creams, developed specifically for dogs, can be used. DO NOT USE PRODUCTS CONTAINING ZINC OXIDE FOR YOUR PET. It can be poisonous when swallowed!

Belly Bands

Belly bands are fabric wraps that fit around a male dog’s waist to catch any urine leaks. 

Image courtesy of funnyfur.com

  • Disposable belly bands do not wrap all the way around, like a dog diaper. Rather, they wrap around your dog’s waist like a band. As with regular dog diapers, disposable belly bands need to be changed frequently, to prevent skin irritation, infections, and inflammation. They can get expensive, just like dog diapers.
  • Washable belly bands also wrap around your dog’s waist like a band. They are less expensive than disposable bands because you can wash and reuse. This type of band is usually made of cotton with a sewn-in absorbent lining and attached with velcro. Another bonus is they are available in different styles and materials, to make your pup feel like the fashion model he or she is!

Dog urinary incontinence can be a symptom of a serious illness or a simple condition. Knowing what signs to watch for and a visit with your vet can narrow down the cause and provide the best care for your fur baby.


VCA Hospitals Urinary Incontinence

Pet MD_Causes and Treatment

Dog Diapers Pros and Cons

Dog Belly Bands