Incontinence is the involuntary passing or leakage of urine. Most frequently diagnosed in female dogs, males can develop this symptom due to infection, blockages, stress, excessive consumption of water, a weak bladder or spinal cord disease. Most often, incontinence is found in neutered younger dogs or older dogs experiencing a decrease in hormones. It can also be a sign of prostate disease.
A dog experiencing incontinence will not be able to hold urine. Very often, due to the relaxation of the bladder muscles, a wet area will be found where the dog had been laying down or sleeping. Frustrating as it may be for the dog's owner, this condition can also bring much stress to the animal who has been trained to do his "duty" outside. A veterinarian needs to evaluate the dog's condition to determine what is causing the incontinence.
Because incontinence can either be a behaviour or health problem, a series of medical procedures will be done. These may include blood tests, X-rays, ultrasound, urinalysis and urine culture. The greater part of incontinence cases are treatable and can be safely remedied.
Most cases of incontinence can be easily cured. The most common drug for treating male dogs is phenylpropanolamine (PPA) a decongestant that works by tightening the bladder muscles. Low levels of testosterone can be raised through hormone replacement therapy or testosterone injections. The side effects of testosterone supplements may include urine marking and aggressive inclinations.
Once a diagnosis has been made and the reason for the incontinence has been determined, natural or alternative treatments may also be used. Corn silk is an herb most commonly used to treat incontinence. Dosage is according to the size and weight of the dog and can be placed directly in the animal's food. There are also many commercial herbal products available for dogs with incontinence. Acupuncture and chiropractic treatments have also shown to be beneficial.
Changing a dog's diet may also stop incontinence. Grain-free diets, raw vegetables and fresh foods have been known to improve a dog's condition. Raw meat included in a homemade diet has also shown to be successful in treating incontinence. Since raw foods may not contain all the necessary nutrients contained in commercial dog food, supplements should be included in the dog's diet.
Some dogs may have incontinence regardless of what steps are taken to alleviate the problem. There are ways to help with the dog's discomfort and the owner's displeasure. Taking the animal for walks helps to eliminate urine build-up in the bladder. Having a watertight bed, a clean mat or waterproof bed pad in the dog's sleeping area will make cleanups easier and the animal more comfortable. There is also the option of canine diapers. Available in both disposable and washable styles, these should be regularly changed to avoid irritating the dog's skin.
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