Dog Urinary Incontinence
Dog Urinary Incontinence
The process of storing and eliminating urine is much the same in dogs as it is in humans. The urine is stored in the bladder and passes out of the body via the urethra. Incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine from the bladder. Small amounts of the urine will leak while the animal is at rest. The dog will usually be noticed licking their penis or vulva to clean the area.
Normally a band of muscles prevents the urine from coming out of the bladder until the dog is ready to go ‘potty’. These muscles are influenced greatly by the presence of hormones. When hormones decrease as a dog ages, incontinence is subject to become an issue. Urinary incontinence rarely occurs in young dogs. There have also been instances where male dogs developed incontinence due to prostate problems.
It is rare to see this condition caused by a hereditary or congenital abnormality. In some older dogs the cause may be attributed to polyps or tumors within the bladder. Also, any injury to the nerves going to the bladder can cause incontinence to occur.
Dogs at Risk
Female dogs have a higher rate of incontinence as they age than male dogs do. Spayed or neutered dogs will also have an increased occurrence due to the removal of the ovaries or testicles which manufacture the necessary hormones that would normally prevent it. Males may be prone to it when they reach the age of eight or nine, while females may begin as early as their third year.
Problems that may result
Secondary problems are quite common. Bladder infections are the most frequent issue because of the more relaxed opening allowing bacteria to enter the bladder and cause infection. Antibiotics are the normal course of treatment for Dog Urinary Tract Infections.
Urine scalding is another issue. Being caustic, urine that remains in contact with the skin can cause irritation. These locally irritated areas are usually treated with ointments with both antibiotics and anti-inflammatory ingredients.
If a dog does not respond to medication it is possible that the use of doggie britches with pads may have to be used. An alternative to the costly diapers designed for dogs is cutting a human baby diaper in half and cutting a hole for the tail.
Treatments for Incontinence
The treatment is not usually difficult. A non-hormonal medication called PPA (phenylpropanolamine) is commonly used in dogs of both sexes. While not approved for humans it is prepared in a veterinary form that is safe for use with dogs.
Since the cause of urinary incontinence is usually a decrease in hormone production, the oral administration of estrogen may be used. After a period of daily doses during which time levels and response are monitored, the estrogen is given once each week. Side effects of estrogen in dogs are quite rare. If a dog is relieved by the administration of either PPA, testosterone or estrogen or other hormonal replacement therapy, it is safe to assume that the dog will be on the medication for the rest of its life.