How to help a dog with sleep incontinence

Written by mia carter
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Canine sleep incontinence occurs when a dog loses bladder control during sleep. This form of incontinence is most common in spayed middle age female dogs. Often, hormonal changes that result from a spaying procedure lead to a weakening of the bladder and nearby muscles over time. It should be noted that there are cases where sleep incontinence occurs due to other health conditions that a dog may be experiencing, so a vet visit is vital for proper diagnosis.

There are medications, like Proin, that are successful in treating sleep incontinence in dogs. Medications are very effective in some dogs, and not so effective in others, therefore there are some dog owners who must take additional measures to care for a dog with canine sleep incontinence.

Signs of sleep incontinence include an odour of urine from the dog and dog bed, a skin rash or hot spots near the genitals and rear legs/hips, a soiled pet bed, wetness on the side of the leg/hip, or on the inner sides of the rear legs. These tips are designed to help owners of dogs who are suffering from canine sleep incontinence.

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Things you need

  • Scissors or Clippers
  • Anti-bacterial Soap
  • A Clean Towel
  • Puppy Pads
  • Doggy Diapers
  • Unscented Wet Wipes
  • Diaper Rash Ointment
  • Baby Powder

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  1. 1

    When sleep incontinence is suspected, the dog should be transported to the veterinarian for an exam. A dog with a urinary tract infection or bladder infection may also experience incontinence, not only during sleep, but also while awake. Back injuries and damage/degradation involving the dog's spinal cord can also result in incontinence throughout the day and night. While these other issues are problematic and can result in a dog urinating during sleep, the treatment will be different. It is vital that a dog is diagnosed correctly so that the best-possible treatment can be provided.

    Notably, a dog who receives regular subcutaneous fluid injections in the evening may urinate during sleep. If this is the case, try providing the dog with his or her injection earlier in the evening or provide a bit less fluid before bedtime.

  2. 2

    Once a dog is diagnosed with sleep incontinence, medication like Proin may be prescribed. Ask your veterinarian about the drug's side effects and dosage information. Give the dog his or her prescribed medication at the same time every day for greater efficacy.

  3. 3

    About three hours before the dog's bedtime, limit access to the water bowl. Pull the water bowl up, but do allow the dog to take a sip, if necessary, just before bed.

  4. 4

    Take the dog outside for a doggy bathroom break right before bed. A dog with an empty bladder at the beginning of the night is less likely to experience problems with canine sleep incontinence.

  5. 5

    Begin by trimming or shaving the dog's fur from the inside of the rear legs, the rear portion of the stomach, and the area surrounding the dog's genitals. In cases of canine sleep incontinence, the dog will urinate while sleeping. The urine is then trapped in the fur and held against the skin, leading to odour, rashes, infection and skin degradation over time. Trimming the fur in these commonly-soiled areas on a regular basis will help avoid skin problems that result from the urine being held against the skin by the fur.

  6. 6

    Dust the dog's inner rear legs, stomach and genital area with baby powder. Then, provide the dog with a doggy diaper at bedtime. There are two basic types of diapers. One type is the disposable diaper, which is convenient, but a bit more expensive in the long term. Fabric diaper garments are another common type of dog diapering option. A sanitary towel is placed inside the crotch of the doggy diaper garment to absorb the fluid when urination occurs. In the morning, only the sanitary towel must be disposed of and the diaper garment is reused. Diapers of all types are available at pet supply stores like Petco and PetSmart. Sanitary towels are available at the chemist. Opt for pads with a "stay dry" lining that will wick fluid away from the skin.

  7. 7

    Cover the dog's bed cushion with a liner that will serve as a moisture barrier. A puppy pad can work well, as the pad will absorb the fluid, while protecting the bed with its plastic backing. A piece of waterproof fabric cut from a mattress protector can also work well. Once the moisture barrier is in place, place a blanket or piece of fleece fabric over the bed for added comfort. It's best to have several blankets or large pieces of fabric, as the blanket will have to be laundered if leakage occurs during the night as a result of urination. Once the bed is covered and the diaper is on the dog, send her to bed.

  8. 8

    In the morning, remove the diaper and immediately bring the dog outside for a bathroom break. Once you return inside, check the dog's genital area and inner legs. If there is any wetness or dampness, use a wet wipe to thoroughly clean the area. If there is any wetness involving the dog's fur, a quick bath will be required. Use antibacterial soap like Dial to wash the genital area, the rear portion of the stomach and inside of the back legs. Use a clean towel to dry the area.

Tips and warnings

  • If a rash or redness develops, this means that the urine is coming in prolonged contact with the skin. This can indicate the need for a more absorbent sanitary towel with a stay-dry lining. Also try shaving the fur in the affected area and perform daily washings of the genital area with an antibacterial soap will also help to prevent this canine version of diaper rash.
  • When redness or rash develops, apply a soothing diaper rash cream to the affected area before putting on the dog's diaper. This will help soothe the skin, while providing a moisture barrier to prevent worsening of the rash.
  • Always take your dog to the veterinarian for an examination when a problem like sleep incontinence arises. Curable ailments like a urinary tract or bladder infection can cause similar problems, but they are completely curable with medication.
  • Check the dog's bedding daily for any moisture and launder as needed. Soiled pet bedding can lead to intentional urination in the bed, particularly by other dogs in the household.

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