Urinary incontinence in dogs

Urinary incontinence is a lack of control over the act of voiding and is characterized by redness of the skin and excessive licking of the penis or the vulva. The redness is caused by dripping urine which irritates the skin. While the act of urination itself is normal, dogs suffering from this problem wet the bed and are prone to voiding more frequently than normal. The sleeping area of the dog emits the ammonia-like odor which is a telltale sign of the problem.

What causes this problem? The reasons are wide and varied and may include among others:

  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Urinary stones
  • Prostate disorders
  • Spinal injury or degeneration
  • Weak bladder sphincter
  • Protruding intervertebral disc
  • Diseases like diabetes and kidney disease
  • Anatomic disorders
  • Certain medications

Although the problem can afflict any dog regardless of age, gender or breed, the condition is more often seen in older spayed females. Among the breeds, springer spaniels, Doberman pinschers, old English sheepdogs and cocker spaniels seem to be more prone to the problem than other breeds. German shepherds are more prone to the condition especially due to spinal injury or degeneration.

The problem is serious enough to warrant a visit to the vet. The vet would then diagnose the cause of the problem and take measures to treat the cause. The vet would look at the medical history of the dog followed by a physical examination followed by tests. Treatment options are dependent on the underlying cause of the condition and may include hormone therapy, antibiotics, other medications or surgery when medications do not solve the problem. In some cases surgery would be straightaway option. This holds true in the cases of incontinence due to bladder stones, a protruding disc or congenital abnormality where medications may not make much of an impact.

A dog with a problem of urinary incontinence requires patience and proper management. Pet owners can take the dog for a walk in the morning and after the dog wakes up from a nap. Proper hygiene goes a long way to prevent skin infections in the area. Moisture absorbing pads under the bedding ensures dryness. Incontinence cannot be treated by restricting water intake and any moves to limit water intake should be with the approval of the vet. Similarly, ensure prompt attention especially in elder dogs as it may lead to infection.



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