Sudden incontinence in dogs

Updated November 21, 2016

Your dog is suddenly urinating in the house. She wets herself when she is sleeping, and unconsciously dribbles urine. She may be licking her genital area more frequently than normal and, because of that, her skin appears red and irritated. There are several health-related explanations for incontinence in dogs, but once you find out the cause of the frequent and uncontrollable urinating, you can help your dog to avoid the unpleasant problem.

Consult a Veterinarian

Your dog's veterinarian will need a urine sample. He may ask you to collect the urine, but if you are not able to do this on your own, your vet will be able to obtain a sample. Once the urine is collected, it will be tested for several problems. Knowing what is causing your dog's incontinence will help you and your vet to treat your dog and help her get back to her best health. Don't assume that the problem will go away on its own. Frequent and uncontrollable urination could be a sign that your dog is suffering from one of several health issues.

Urinary Tract Infection

Urinary tract infections are common, especially in female dogs. If your dog has a urinary tract infection, her vet will prescribe an antibiotic. Your dog should soon be able to control urination and avoid accidents. She will urinate less frequently once the antibiotics begin working. This might take a few days, but it is important to continue with the medication and follow the vet's recommendations.


Just like in humans, a dog's pancreas produces insulin when he eats. Insulin's purpose is to open cells so that once his food is turned into glucose, it can be used for energy. When the pancreas does not function correctly, or if it does not work at all, the insulin is not there to open the cells. The blood glucose has nowhere to go, so it spills into the bloodstream, causing high blood sugar levels. High blood sugar makes your dog feel thirsty, sick or tired. She may be losing weight. If a dog is diagnosed with diabetes, the vet may prescribe insulin. Although serious, diabetes is common and controllable. Once your dog is treated, his frequent urination problems should go away.


Older dogs often leak urine because of a lack of hormones. Spayed females and neutered males may leak urine even when they are young. Both oestrogen in female dogs and testosterone in male dogs help to keep the bladder tissue strong. When the hormones decrease, dogs naturally lose some strength in the bladder. Sometimes this does not cause problems, but it is common for dogs to have bladder leakage. Female dogs are more likely to be affected by hormone deficiency than male dogs. Your veterinarian will explain the many options to treat this type of incontinence.

Other Considerations

Without a veterinarian's diagnosis, there is no way to determine the cause for your dog's incontinence. Besides these common issues, there might be other concerns, such as bladder tumours, polyps or prostate disease in males. The sooner your dog is seen by a veterinarian, the quicker she will recover. Consider using doggy diapers until you are able to take your dog to the vet.

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