A closer look: Urinary Incontinence in Dogs
Urinary incontinence is separate and distinct from inappropriate urination or house soiling. In cases of incontinence, urine is passed involuntarily without active effort or even awareness of it happening. In cases of inappropriate elimination, the affected dog is actively passing urine in an inappropriate time or place.
Incontinence is easiest to spot when a pet dribbles or spots while performing regular activities, such as resting or walking. Fur may be damp or matted, and typically has an unpleasant odor.
Some conditions which lead to incontinence can be severe, such as cancers, infections, or injuries. Prompt veterinary intervention is required for proper diagnosis and treatment.
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Any condition affecting structures controlling urination, such as the spinal cord, brain, urogenital system, and related nerves, may lead to incontinence.
Urinary incontinence is common in dogs, particularly large breed, spayed female dogs. Urinary incontinence is rarely a cause for serious concern, and is usually treatable.
Incontinence is more concerning if accompanied by other emergency symptoms.
Urine trapped in the fur may result in skin irritation, including urine scalding on the inside of the rear legs or on the belly.
Incontinence in a younger puppy is more likely to be a congenital defect, such as a patent urachus. Incontinence in adult or senior dogs is more likely related to degenerative problems or chronic diseases.
Some conditions only affect certain sexes. Males can be affected by prostatitis, benign prostatic hyperplasia, and prostate cancer, whereas females are susceptible to USMI.
Testing and diagnosis
- Physical examination
- Diagnostic imaging, such as X-rays, ultrasound, or CT scan
- Neurological tests
Incontinence is usually treated with medication, depending on the underlying cause. Some cases, such as incontinence caused by developmental abnormalities, are treated with surgery. Patients that have urinary tract infections associated with incontinence may require antibiotics.
If incontinence recurs, or is chronic, followup monitoring appointments to adjust treatment or identify additional underlying causes are warranted.
A dog peeing from excitement, stress, or due to submissive behavior can be mistaken for incontinence.