It can be messy, smelly and can happen to toilet-trained dogs. Urinary incontinence is unconscious and involuntary urination or urine leakage. It’s generally no cause for alarm and if you have noticed your pet has started to lose control of their bladder, you don’t need to stress as urinary incontinence can be treated.
What causes urinary incontinence in pets?
The vast majority or urine incontinence in pets is caused by a hormonal deficiency and is most commonly seen in older, desexed female dogs. With aging pets, there is a natural decline in the female hormone oestrogen that is linked to incontinence in many species. In dogs this process is hastened by desexing as this procedure involves removing the ovaries, the body’s main source of oestrogen. This lack of eostrogen weakens the neck of the bladder and associated urethral structures that normally keep the bladder closed and results in urine leakage.
Should you be worried?
Incontinence is primarily a hygiene problem for indoor pets and a messy situation for their owners. Medically speaking, regular incontinence can lead to urine scalding of the skin around the vulva and cause a secondary skin infection. An infection in this area, combined with a weakened bladder neck, can also increase the risk of cystitis. Urinary incontinence can be an embarrassing and stressful situation for pets that have been able to control their bladders previously, so it is important that you do not make a big deal of the incident.
What can you do to improve bladder control?
Your local vet will run a urine test to rule out any other causes of urinary incontinence before diagnosing and dispensing medications. Hormone replacement therapy is the conventional treatment for incontinence in pets. This treatment involves using a low dose of eostrogen once or twice a week. It may sound extreme but it is important to know that the doses required to control incontinence in dogs are very small and are nothing like hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in humans. This works very well in most cases and has no known side effects.
Natural alternatives that can help improve your pet’s bladder control include oestrogen herbs like red clover and chaste tree, as well as acupuncture and chiropractic manipulation.
If you think your dog has a urinary problem, please consult your local vet.