Urinary incontinence in dogs

Does your dog lose urine drip, does he often lick his perineal area? Your pet may be prone to urinary incontinence. This corresponds to an involuntary, uncontrolled urine emission, most often causing soiling, and apparent dirtiness. It must be differentiated from urination resulting from “false incontinence” also called pseudo-incontinence, caused by all the causes of polyuria-polydipsia, urgent urination due to cystitis or a lack of education leading to urine marking for example. In this article, you will know about urinary incontinence in dogs.

“Pseudo-incontinence” or false incontinence:

Among the causes of pseudo-incontinence, we find the pathologies during which the production. And, therefore the emission of urine increases. In these cases, the animal quickly finds itself with a full bladder. As a result, even if it is not usually unclean, it may, when the owners are away for too long, no longer know how to hold back. For example, diabetes mellitus, renal failure (the causes of which are various), liver failure (many possible causes as well) … During these pathologies, owners frequently notice an increase in their animal’s drinking.

Some dogs also present “pseudo-incontinence” in pathologies of the genitourinary system. Inflammation of the urinary tract (for example cystitis) can lead to urination, called “urgent”. In males, also during prostatitis, one of the symptoms may consist of drip loss of urine, mixed or not with blood.

Other causes of pseudo-incontinence are behavioral: such as urinary marking during interspecific sociopathy, emotional urination (either for joy when welcoming owners, or out of fear or stress, etc.), or simply those due to a lack of toilet training. The causes of true incontinence are numerous. Incontinence in dogs can have neurological origins (for example following a trauma to the pelvis), a congenital origin (poor positioning of the bladder, ectopic ureters which open at the vaginal level instead of the bladder…), hormonal origin (following castration for example), or more rarely uro-vaginal or urethro-rectal fistulas…

The causes

The existence of an ectopic ureter is in more than 80% of cases in females. That is to say a bad position of one or both ureters which instead of opening at the level of the neck of bladder, “bypasses” it. The urine then flows into the uterus or vagina, causing a constant flow of urine. This cause of incontinence is congenital, since it is present from birth.

A bad position of the bladder: it is called “pelvic”, instead of being “abdominal”. This poor posture leads to incontinence in nearly one in two dogs.

More frequently, following castration, the dog or bitch (approximately 20% of bitches) may exhibit sphincter incompetence (weakness of the sphincter), linked to hormonal changes taking place following the operation. Note that some breeds are predisposed (Boxer, Doberman Pinscher …), as well as dogs weighing more than 20kg.

Many causes of true incontinence are neurological: all traumas or lesions affecting in particular the nerves controlling the various muscles and sphincters of the bladder can be the cause of incontinence.

More rarely, there may be fistulas (communication) between the vagina and the urethra, or between the rectum and the urethra (congenital, or following a trauma, infection, surgery, etc.)

What to do if you suspect urinary incontinence in your pet?

Consult your vet!

The causes of incontinence being numerous, during the clinical examination, the veterinarian will ask you about the age of the symptoms. In fact, congenital causes such as ectopic ureters most often lead to an early onset of incontinence. He will take his information on the dog’s history: accident? trauma to the pelvis? herniated disc ? which may have resulted in neurological disorders; sterilization?

Urinary incontinence in dogs

Likewise, depending on the results of his clinical examination and the answers obtained, he will carry out certain additional examinations. For example: blood tests, a urine analysis will carry out in order to rule out all causes leading to polyuria-polydipsia, or urinary tract infection. And, therefore certain causes of pseudo-incontinence. Sometimes medical imaging will be necessary. Ultrasound of the entire genitourinary system, x-rays with the introduction of a contrast product into the bladder, etc.

Management of incontinence in dogs

Once the diagnosis is made, and the cause of incontinence found, very often solutions exist.

For false incontinence

The treatment will consist of taking charge of the primary pathology: treating cystitis (antibiotic therapy, diet, sometimes surgery in the event of stones, or tumors, etc.), prostatitis (antibiotics, possible surgery), taking charge of renal failure, diabetes … Thanks to drug treatments, and possibly food. Some cases require behavioral management for markings, stress urination, etc.

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For true urinary incontinence

The solutions are sometimes surgical. Indeed, congenital causes like ectopic ureters require intervention. In some cases of sphincter incompetence, surgery can also be a solution to supplement the medication. And it is also necessary for urogenital or urorectal fistulas. Quite often the treatment will be medical, thanks to the use of molecules acting on the nervous system to improve the control, the strength of the sphincters or muscles, even sometimes to promote the relaxation of certain muscles.

In conclusion

The causes of incontinence are very diverse. They are difficult to prevent for the most part. What is certain is that these different forms of incontinence cause many inconveniences in the daily life of the owners and the dog, and consequently have an impact on the relationship between the owner and his animal. Solutions exist, and they will be adapted to each case, do not hesitate to talk to your veterinarian!