Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is a term used to describe involuntary leakage of urine. It most commonly occurs when lying down or relaxed.

It affects dogs, both female and male although female dogs seem to be more predisposed as they have a shorter urethra. Incontinence is often seen in older dogs. Cats very rarely present for urinary incontinence.

Clinical signs

  • Leaking or dribbling urine when lying down
  • More frequent urination
  • Damp or wet bed after sleeping
  • Dribbling of urine when walking around
  • Damp patch around their back end
  • Continuous licking

Diagnosis

Your veterinary surgeon will perform a full clinical examination and will request a urine sample for analysis. Further investigation is often performed to determine the exact cause. This can involve X-rays and/or an ultrasound scan as well as blood samples and repeat urine analysis.

Treatment

Depending on the cause of the urinary incontinence, the treatment will vary.

One of the common causes is age related urinary incontinence. This is when, like humans, certain muscles begin to weaken with age. Sometimes the muscles at the base of the bladder may not be strong enough to keep the urine in the bladder when it begins to fill.
Medication will be prescribed by your veterinary surgeon which will increase the level of contraction of the muscles at the base of the bladder.

Occasionally in dogs, the muscles which keep the urine in the bladder are affected by the hormone levels in the dog. The hormone levels gradually decrease with age as well as once a dog is neutered. This incontinence is called hormone-responsive urinary incontinence and can be treated with hormone injections or medication.

Prostate problems in entire male dogs can also cause incontinence and neutering is often recommended to treat the problem.

Any congenital problems diagnosed, depending on what they are may be helped by medication and/or surgery.

The long term prognosis for urinary incontinence is generally good if your dog responds to medication and/or surgery.