Sudden dog incontinence

Updated November 21, 2016

The causes vary for sudden incontinence in your dog. When your dog cannot control urine leaks, usually there are treatments that can help control the condition, if a cause is determined. Incontinence can occur at any age and in both sexes. However, according to Vetinfo, it is more common in female dogs. Incontinence creates a cleaning issue and often causes skin irritation from the dog licking itself. According to Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine (WSUCVM), incontinence may result from bladder, urethra (the tube from the bladder to outside opening), brain or spinal cord conditions.


Sometimes a dog has incontinence before the owner realises. If a dog sleeps outside or is able to clean itself without leaving a puddle, the condition may have been present before the owner notices. Typically, incontinence occurs when the dog is lying down or asleep. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the urine leak can be a small or large amount. Most commonly, the urine leaks in drips and the first noticed symptoms are excessive licking and skin irritation.


Spine injuries can result from trauma or disease. VeterinaryPartner contributing author Becky Lundgren, D.V.M. says that intervertebral disk disease (slipped or herniated disk) can damage a dog's ability to control its bladder. Some disks may slip quickly, causing sudden urinary incontinence. Any dog can have an injury causing the disk problem. Disk disease is most common in German shepherds and dog breeds with low, long backs, such as Pekinese, Welsh corgi, dachshund, cocker spaniel and Lhasa apso. Spinal injuries can cause paralysis. Immediate medical evaluation and treatment are necessary for a dog displaying sudden incontinence and pain, especially if recently injured.


Hormone-related incontinence is the most common cause of canine incontinence. The hormone decreases can be caused by spaying or neutering or ageing. Incontinence may occur suddenly after spaying or neutering, or later. According to WSUCVM, a bladder infection can create scarring and result in incontinence. Dogs with this condition urinate at any time, not just when lying down.Bladder stones or tumours can prevent the bladder from emptying. Increased bladder extension can cause sudden incontinence. Prostate disorders and some medications may result in incontinence.


A veterinarian determines the cause of sudden urinary incontinence with various methods beginning with gathering information from the owner about the dog's health, medication, injuries and behaviours. According to WSUCVM, testing includes urine samples to test for infection, blood tests to determine infection or kidney disease, x-rays and ultrasounds.


Disk disorder treatment may include surgery, steroids, pain medication or rest. Hormones help the dog control its bladder. Hormone replacement therapy treatment is effective and safe, according to Vetinfo. Phenylpropanolamine is a common hormone used for canine incontinence. Surgery or treatment for the bladder stones or tumours may stop the incontinence. Other treatments include drugs, such as propolin, which strengthens the bladder. Treating bladder and kidney infections involves antibiotic therapy. The dog can wear diapers or sleep on pads when treatments are not effective.

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Daniel Cobalt lives in Georgia and has been writing online for over five years. He has a technical certificate in printing from the Philadelphia Printing School. His areas of expertise include fitness, home schooling, parenting, personal relationships, small business ownership and pet topics including breeding, training and responsible ownership.