Urinary Incontinence in Dogs
Urinary incontinence in dogs is the loss of voluntary control of the bladder. The definition is the same for both humans and dogs.
Normal elimination of the bladder involves properly functioning muscles and nerves. Urine is stored in the bladder. In a normal process the urine is voluntary passed through the urethra. Weak urethral muscles are the most common cause of this process happening involuntarily. This becomes more prevalent as dogs age.
My old dog Pippa has had a few urinary incontinence accidents but luckily they are few and far between and it is not an issue yet. They have always been when she has been in a deep sleep and she is totally unaware that it has happened. This never happened before old age.
Incontinence in dogs should not be confused with a behavioural elimination problem. Urinating inappropriately throughout the house can be purposeful and be done for pschological reasons. An incontinent dog is not wilful or defiant. They physiologically can’t help it.
Old dog incontinence can also be a result of hormones. As a dog becomes advanced in age, they produce less oestrogen or testosterone. These deficiencies can result in the involuntary leaking of urine. Spayed females are particularly susceptible to the problem. The onset of this issue usually occurs at about 8 or 9 years of age. In a spayed female, however, it could begin at as young as 3 to 5 years of age. There are several secondary problems that can arise. Bladder infections are possible. The slack in the loosened muscles permits the entrance of bacteria which leads to infection. Skin irritation from exposure to urine can also occur.
Incontinence can be treated in dogs just as it can be in humans. Oral medication is usually used. This could take on a variety of forms. Hormonal replacement can help compensate for a lower level of hormones. This is particularly effective in older dogs. Muscle relaxers have proved helpful for over active bladder and urethral spasm. These side effects of these medications have been studied and have been found to be very manageable. In a case where the medication does not completely take care of the problem, a dog diaper / nappy can be worn.
Surgical procedures are also available as are herbal treatments including the use of corn silk. A procedure can be performed that actually creates a compression on the urethra by attaching the vagina to the belly. A newer approach involves injecting collagen into the area surrounding the urethra.
Incontinence can be a frightening experience. Fortunately, it does not always translate into serious illness. Often it is a simple fact of aging in the life of a dog. If your dog begins to experience this problem, a veterinarian can perform some simple diagnostic tests and prescribe a treatment to get your companion back on track.
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