The Medication for Incontinence in Female Dogs

Written by donna ferrier
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The Medication for Incontinence in Female Dogs
Your dog may unconsciously leak urine as she sleeps (dog image by Trav from

Many pet owners become alarmed at the sight of their dog leaking urine as she sleeps or leaving a steady stream of "pee" as she casually walks across the room. Incontinence in female dogs, however, is a common problem due to spaying, old age, spinal conditions and obesity, as well as urinary and bladder infections. Fortunately, a variety of medications can treat this condition.

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Diethylstilbestrol (DES)

According to an article entitled, "Dog Health: Urinary Incontinence" at the Vet 4 Petz website, after a spay, a dog's body produces lower levels of the oestrogen necessary for maintaining bladder strength. Diethylstilbestrol (DES) is a common oestrogen replacement therapy, says the article. Administer one dose per day for a week and then two to three doses each week thereafter, advises Mary Straus, in an article entitled, "Incontinence in Dogs," which appeared in the September 2006 issue of Whole Dog Journal and is reprinted on the DogAware website. Straus says that while DES is safe in most instances, in rare cases it can result in permanent suppression of bone marrow leading to anaemia.

Phenylpropanolamine (PPA)

Phenylpropanolamine (PPA) is another common medication used to treat incontinence. Put simply, PPA enables the dog's brain to more emphatically tell her bladder to retain urine, according to the Mar Vista Animal Medical Center, on the clinic's website. Administer two to three doses per day, advises Straus. While most dogs can handle PPA without any problems, according to Mar Vista, some may eat less, become more irritable, and experience a change in blood pressure.


If your dog does not respond to either DES or PPA, Mar Vista recommends Imipramine, which you can use with PPA as a combined treatment. The clinic says that while "people" doctors use Imipramine to lessen anxiety, veterinarians prescribe it to relax the muscle fibres around your dog's bladder, facilitating urine retention. Other drugs in this family include Oxybutynin and Flavoxate.

Gonadotrophin-Releasing Hormones (GnRH)

A study that appeared in the Theriogenology journal and reprinted on the PubMed website notes that Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormones (GnRH)--which include Leuprolide, Deslorelin, Buserelin, and Triptorelin--can be used alone or in conjunction with PPA. In 2003, the study's authors administered seven dogs with GnRH hormones, and all dogs except one maintained continence for an average of 247 days. The remaining dog, according to the study, received a combined treatment of GnRH hormones and PPA and was able to maintain continence for an average of 159 days.

According to Iris Margaret Reichler, Wolfgang Jochle, Claude A. Piche, Malgorzata Roos and Susi Arnold, in a 2006 study that appeared the Theriogenology journal and is reprinted on the CAT.INIST website, nine of 22 spayed female dogs receiving GnRH hormones maintained continence for 70 to 575 days. In another 10 dogs, the authors showed that GnRH hormones reduced incontinence by at least 50 per cent.

Herbal Remedies

Herbal medicines can be advantageous for treating incontinence, particularly if your dog exhibits side effects from other medications. According to Mary Straus, in an article entitled, "Incontinence in Dogs," which appeared in the September 2006 issue of Whole Dog Journal and is reprinted on the DogAware website, corn silk is the most common herbal remedy, but others include raspberry leaf, horsetail, saw palmetto, nettle root, couch grass, uva ursi, agrimony, marshmallow and plantain. She suggests giving your dog a spot of tea by mixing 1 tablespoon of one of these herbs with 2 cups of boiling water, and administering 1 teaspoon of tea per 9.07 Kilogram of body weight, twice a day. Other herbal options, according to Straus, include Chinese herbs or commercial herbs commonly available in pet stores.

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