My Dog Pees in the House
Urinary incontinence is a condition seen in dogs but not reported in cats or other species besides humans. Usually, it occurs in females, and most often in the spayed female dog. Women are commonly affected by loss of urine control in their post-menopausal years. Male dogs are prone to this as well, but less commonly so than their female counterpart. This condition is characterized by the dog losing control over the ability to hold urine. Typically, a ‘wet spot’ is noted where the dog was sleeping, or the dog itself will be wet in the hind quarters after sleep or lying down.
When the dog relaxes, so does the sphincter muscle of the bladder, which controls urination itself. This is the same muscle in humans used to stop urination mid-stream. When this muscle relaxes too much, urine is then allowed to leak out of the bladder. Some affected dogs can dribble urine while awake and walking around.
The reason behind the incontinence in the spayed or neutered female) or testosterone hormone (male). In the female dog, estrogen hormone is responsible for providing tone to the bladder dog, is due to the lack of estrogen hormone sphincter muscle. When spayed, this hormone is no longer being produced in the amount it was prior to the removal of the ovaries (where the estrogen hormone is produced).
Small amounts of estrogen hormone is produced by the adrenal glands (small glands that are located right next to the kidneys). Most of the time, this is enough estrogen to provide bladder sphincter tone. However, in some cases it is not. These dogs then require medications to support bladder sphincter tone.
Male dogs can develop urinary incontinence following neutering, as the testicles are removed, thus removing the source of testosterone in the system. Small amounts of testosterone continue to be produced by the male dog’s adrenal glands however, and the amount of testosterone produced is usually enough to maintain bladder sphincter tone. As with the female dog, if bladder sphincter tone is not maintained, medication is required.
The medication available to assist in urinary incontinent dogs includes hormonal replacement of either estrogen or testosterone, or the use of direct bladder sphincter stimulants.
If estrogens are utilized for female dog incontinence, they are typically given once daily over a 5-7 day period, then tapered down to three times a week. Lately, this drug has been discontinued for the veterinary market in its original form known as Diethylstilbestrol or DES for short. Some formulating pharmacies however, can still make DES available for the veterinarian. Another drug, which provides direct stimulation of the bladder sphincter muscle, is known as Phenylpropanolamine or PPA for short. This drug has recently undergone a class reschedule change to a controlled substance, which has made the cost of medication increase. It is still quite affordable however, and recommended when DES is not available, or in cases where DES is not effective.
In male neutered dogs, testosterone replacement can be done, but this is an expensive ordeal, and not readily available. Most cases will respond to PPA, so this is then the recommended treatment protocol for the incontinent male dog.
The Causes of Urinary Incontinence in Dogs
In dogs, urine is retained or stored in the bladder. When the dog wants to urinate, the urine passes to the outside of the body through a small tube called the urethra. A normal dog can easily control this action. Urinary incontinence is involuntary or uncontrollable leaking of urine from the bladder. Small quantities of urine will leak from the urethra while an incontinent dog is resting or sleeping, and it will commonly be seen licking the vulva or penile opening.
Urine is prevented from leaking out of the bladder in normal dogs by a band of muscular tissue at the base of the bladder that acts as a valve that the dog consciously controls. We know today that certain hormones are important in this control. In the female, estrogen has a dramatic effect, giving strength to the muscular tissue of the bladder. In the male, testosterone has much the same effect. Anything that affects the levels of these hormones also affects the dog’s ability to retain his urine. As a dog ages, the production of these hormones naturally decreases. Additionally, the main sites of their production, the ovaries in the female and the testicles in the male, are surgically removed when the dog is spayed or neutered.
Rarely, urinary incontinence can occur in younger animals due to congenital anatomic abnormalities. Infrequently, older dogs may have urinary incontinence due to tumors or polyps in the bladder. Injury of nerves going to the bladder can also cause incontinence. Prostate disease may also result in incontinence.
Who is at risk?
Hormone-responsive incontinence is more common in female dogs than it is in males, and more common in neutered and spayed dogs than in intact ones. Older dogs tend to be more prone to developing this condition. If the cause is old age, the problem is usually not seen until the dogs are eight to nine years of age. In spayed females, this problem usually does not occur until they are three or five years of age. Surprisingly, in males, whether they are neutered or not, this condition is rarely seen in dogs younger than ten years of age.
Problems resulting from urinary incontinence
Dogs suffering from urinary incontinence have some common secondary problems. They have a much higher incidence of bladder infections. It is believed that with the more lax opening to the bladder, it is easier for bacteria to migrate up the urethra and colonize the bladder. These dogs may need to be on antibiotics until the incontinence is dealt with.
Dogs with urinary incontinence frequently suffer from urine scalding. Urine is fairly caustic, and if it remains in contact with the skin for long periods of time, it can cause severe irritations. Scalded areas are usually treated topically with anti-inflammatory salves that also contain antibiotics.
Dogs who do not respond 100% to medication may still leak urine in small quantities. If this is the case, dog bloomers or panties with absorbent pads can be used to soak up the urine.
Causes of Urinary Incontenence in Older Dogs
It’s hard to believe, but incontinence in older dogs has become a problem for your canine companion. It seems like only yesterday that he was a rambunctious puppy getting into all kinds of mischief, but now your old friend is slowing down and developing problems like old dog incontinence. Don’t despair, because incontinence in dogs doesn’t mean the end is near for your friend.
The problem may be caused by something as simple as cystitis in dogs. This is a bacterial infection that causes frequent urination.
You may notice that he has blood in his urine, too. The irritation can make it hard for your dog to “hold it” until you can let him out. These urinary tract infections are easily treated with antibiotics or herbal remedies for dogs. Canine bladder stones are a common reason for bladder infections. These stones often have sharp edges which irritate the bladder wall, leading to a bladder infection. Stones can sometimes be dissolved by a change in diet, but sometimes they must be removed surgically.
Canine diabetes or Cushion’s disease may be causing your pet to drink more water, leading to more frequent urination and possible accidents in the house. It’s a good idea to have your older dog checked for these conditions if incontinence in dogs is becoming a problem for him. These conditions can be challenging, but they’re manageable for most pet owners.
Declining hormone levels in older females cause a loss of muscle tone, including in the muscles that control the bladder. Prostrate problems in males can also cause urinary troubles. If you notice persistent bleeding from your pet’s urinary tract, that could be a sign of canine cancer so don’t ignore it. Take him to the vet for a check-up right away.
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