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Urinary Incontinence in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

SPC dog incontinence pad

The involuntary discharge of urine is known as urinary incontinence in dogs. It usually occurs due to underlying medical conditions which causes dog bladder control issues. Incontinence can happen at any point of a dog’s life, but it occurs more commonly in middle-aged to senior dogs. Some dogs may experience light incontinence, while other dogs may completely empty their bladder. The good news is that there are medications along with dog incontinence supplies that can help resolve the issue!

Types of Incontinence in Dogs

There are several types of incontinence in dogs, which can be categorized based on the underlying cause of the problem. Some of the most common type of incontinence include:

  • Urinary incontinence occurs when a dog is unable to control their bladder and leaks urine. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including urinary tract infections (UTIs), bladder stones, nerve damage, or tumors.
  • Stress incontinence occurs when a dog leaks urine when it is under stress or is excited. It is typically caused by a weakness in the muscles that control the bladder or urethra.
  • Overflow incontinence occurs when a dog's bladder becomes full and leaks urine due to an obstruction or blockage in the urinary tract.
  • Functional incontinence occurs when a dog is physically able to hold urine, but is unable to make it to the designated area to urinate. It is usually caused by arthritis, cognitive dysfunction, or other age-related issues.
  • Reflex incontinence occurs when a dog's bladder leaks urine due to a reflex response to a full bladder. It can be caused by spinal cord injuries or nerve damage.

There are other possible causes of incontinence in dogs. It is important to consult a veterinarian for a proper medical diagnosis and treatment.

Urinary Incontinence Symptoms in Dogs

Urinary incontinence in dogs can be detected by simply observing the dog’s behavior. The most common sign of incontinence is a wet spot on the dog’s bed or on the floor. Initially, the amount of urine leakage is so little that only the hairs around the dog’s genitals (vulva or penis) get wet. The dampness may lead to the onset of sores, redness, and irritation around the vulva or hind leg. With the progression of leakage, the dog may start to dribble urine while walking. 

Incontinence may cause the dog to act shy and uneasy. The dog will also lick their genitals more often than usual. Urinary incontinence in dogs may also result from anxiety or territorial marking behavior, especially in male dogs. It is important to properly determine the cause to find appropriate incontinence treatment for dogs.

Causes of Incontinence in Puppies and Dogs

Puppies or young dogs may experience incontinence due to an anatomical abnormality of ureters, which affects the normal flow of urine from the kidney to the bladder. Vulvar defects may also occur with ectopic positioning of ureters, which can only be treated with surgery. Trauma, either from a road traffic accident or injury like a pelvic fracture, may also result in incontinence in young dogs. 

Causes of Incontinence in Older Dogs 

The general causes of urinary incontinence in older dogs are usually gender specific. Prostate diseases in male dogs are associated with leakage and difficulty in urination. Larger breeds and spaying makes female dogs more vulnerable to urinary incontinence. This is due to a medical condition called post-spaying hormonal imbalance. Dogs with neurological deficits or tumors are prone to lose bladder control due to damage to bladder innervation.

How is Urinary Incontinence Diagnosed in Dogs?

The diagnosis of urinary incontinence in dogs is based on clinical signs, medical history, and examination. Blood and urine tests may be performed at a veterinary clinic to further identify the type of incontinence. An ultrasound and bladder radiograph may also rule out bladder stones or crystals and other anatomical defects affecting the genitourinary system.

Urinary Incontinence Treatment for Dogs

Incontinence treatment in dogs depends on their medical condition and diagnosis. A veterinarian may prescribe medications to strengthen a dog’s bladder muscles and innervation to achieve better bladder control. There are drugs for incontinence treatment that tightens the sphincter muscles and helps resolve bladder control issues. Cranberry supplements and vitamin C may also be used to aid incontinence.

Spay incontinence in female dogs may be treated with hormone replacement therapy. This helps restore their hormonal equilibrium and urinary control. In some cases, antibiotics may be prescribed to treat urinary tract infections associated with a dog’s incontinence. If a dog has anatomical anomalities of the urinary tract, surgery may be required.


San Pablo Commercial is a family-owned, small business with a mission to deliver affordable incontinence supplies to their customers. We offer a variety of incontinence products including puppy pee pads and disposable dog incontinence pads, which are also available on AmazonWe care deeply about our customers and want to make ordering incontinence supplies easier so that they can spend less time cleaning up spills and messes.

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