Urinary Incontinence & Your Dog: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment

Urinary incontinence is the inability to hold in urine. This can happen in pets of all kinds, including dogs. The reasons for incontinence are numerous. Below is a general overview of the causes, symptoms, and treatment of urinary incontinence, and how your dog's vet can help.

What Causes Urinary Incontinence in Canines?

There are a few common reasons that your dog may be experiencing urinary incontinence. After your dog's vet has ruled out non-medical issues (such as submission urination and poor housetraining), the vet will perform a number of tests.

One common issue that leads to urinary incontinence is a bladder infection. If this is the case, the incontinence likely came on suddenly. Another, more serious issue is spinal injury. This can occur in aging dogs, or in dogs who've experienced a jolting injury. There are numerous other reasons that your dog may be experiencing incontinence, such as a weak sphincter or hormone inbalance, but only with your vet's help can the cause be discovered.

What are Common Symptoms of Urinary Incontinence?

Aside from the obvious puddles of urine, other symptoms include red, irritated genitals and excessive licking of the genitals.

Dogs with incontinence usually experience leakage – the urine seeps out slowly, and this leads to the irritation and redness. In an effort to stay clean, it's likely that your dog will lick their vulva or penis more frequently, which can also lead to further irritation.

How is Canine Urinary Incontinence Treated?

As mentioned above, there are a number of reasons for urinary incontinence in dogs. Once your vet has pinpointed the cause, treatment will be able to go forward. For example, if a bladder infection is suspected, an examination of your dog's urine will be performed, and if this is the cause, antibiotics will be prescribed. If a spinal injury is the cause, surgery or certain medications may be of help.

But what about cases in which there is no medical cause? It's possible for certain dogs to experience bouts of incontinence for non-physical reasons, such as stress. In cases such as this, treatment will likely focus more on the stress, such as a prescription for anti-anxiety medications or working with a canine behaviorist. Once the root cause has been treated, you may notice fewer and fewer episodes of incontinence.

Urinary incontinence can be a frustrating thing to deal with, both for you and your dog. If you suspect your dog is suffering from urinary incontinence, consult with a local animal hospital.