Urinary Incontinence In The Dog
FACT SHEET: Urinary Incontinence in the DogMicturition depends on the coordinated action between the sympathetic, parasympathetic and somatic nervous systems and central control centers. Urinary incontinence is the involuntary action that results in urine leakage. It is important to speak to your veterinarian if your pet has exhibited urinary accidents in the house because a variety of differentials could be the cause of these clinical signs.
ANTATOMIC CAUSES FOR URINARY INCONTINENCEEctopic ureters are the most common cause of urinary incontinence in young dogs. An ectopic ureter is defined as a ureteral opening in any area other than the normal position in the trigone of the bladder. UI is the most common clinical sign in dogs with EUs and is usually diagnosed in dogs prior to one year of age however EUs should be considered in any dog with UI, particularly when the history is unknown. Breeds reported to be at risk include the Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Siberian Husky, Newfoundland and English Bulldog. Although unilateral EUs have been reported to be more common, bilateral EUs were significantly more common in a recent study, which suggests that careful imaging of the urinary tract should be performed prior to surgery in order to obtain the best clinical outcome. EUs are uncommon in male dogs and these animals are often asymptomatic.
What are treatment options for my dog with USMI?
Spinal Injury And Brain Lesions
Damage to the spinal cord, which is the result of some injuries, blows, falls of the dog or some other causes, leads to degeneration of the nerves that innervate the muscles around the urethra and bladder. Degenerations can be temporary or permanent, resulting in excessive tension of the bladder due to its overflow and inability to empty it. This health condition can lead to bacterial infections and inflammation of the kidneys.
It can also happen that a dog suffers from intervertebral disc disease, which is caused by pressure on certain vertebrae. This disease occurs due to wear and tear of the vertebral cartilage or some congenital defects, and it is manifested by pain and irregular gait, as well as nerve damage and incontinence. If the nerves are too damaged, surgery is needed to correct the condition.
Also, various types of brain tumors and infections can lead to damage of the brain tissue certain structures in the brain control the dogs bladder and the urge to urinate. Such conditions can lead to the appearance of dementia or senility of the dog, which is accurately called canine cognitive dysfunction.
Such dogs become anxious over time and lose sensation in space. They lose function and control over voluntary body movements, such as relaxation of the urethral sphincter to release urine. In these cases, the dog can be helped only by certain supplements that should alleviate the symptoms of dementia because it is incurable.
How To Treat Urinary Incontinence In Dogs
Once your vet has determined the primary cause of your dogs urinary incontinence, then they will have the best idea of how to treat it. Treatment will differ depending on your dogs diagnosis.
If a bacterial infection is causing your dog to leak urine, your vet will likely prescribe an antibiotic to treat the infection. If a hormone imbalance is the cause, then your vet may recommend hormonal therapy, or estrogen supplementation for female dogs.
If your dog has a weak urethral sphincter thats causing them to urinate involuntarily, your vet will likely recommend a medication to control their urinating and manage symptoms. And if your dog has bladder stones or another abnormality, surgery may be needed. However, surgery is usually only needed in severe cases.
If youre not able to treat your dogs urinary incontinence with the help of a vet, the only thing you can really do is to manage it. You can do this by putting blankets and towels underneath the areas where your dog often urinates, or even using puppy training pads. You should clean up their sleeping quarters often to prevent them from getting any infections. You should also bring them outside to use the bathroom more often, to reduce the amount of times they pee inside.
How Will I Know If My Dog Is Incontinent
Dog incontinence can appear suddenly. But in most cases, it will come and go before becoming a persistent problem. If theres another medical condition present, which affects the urinary tract, the incontinence may be more pronounced. Dogs suffering from a urinary tract problem will often pass urine normally when out for a walk and may not show any sign of pain or discomfort when peeing. Some of the tell-tale signs your dog is incontinent can include:
- Wet bedding or wet patches where the dog has been lying
- Damp legs, particularly in longer haired breeds
- Scalding on the skin, from where your dogs been in constant contact with urine
- Licking around the back end more than normal
- Smell of urine on the dog and their bedding
Is Urinary Incontinence Just Part Of Growing Older
No. But changes with age can reduce how much urine your bladder can hold. Aging can make your stream of urine weaker and can cause you to feel the urge to urinate more often. This doesnt mean youll have urinary incontinence just because youre aging. With treatment, it can be controlled or cured.
Learn More About Urinary Incontinence
There are 5 types of urinary incontinence, described below.
How Can You Tell Dog Incontinence From Inappropriate Elimination
Other conditions can look like incontinence in dogs but may be caused by a different issue. Most of the following instances of inappropriate elimination are voluntary urinations in which the pet is aware, but loses control.
Submissive or excitement urination: This is a voluntary urination that has a behavioral component. Submissive urination often involves a small amount of urine and only happens when your dog is near a person or excited about an event.
Lack of proper house-training: Some dogs have not been consistently and positively trained to eliminate in appropriate spots. This can look like a normal amount of urine, and it tends to happen near a door or somewhere away from where your dog eats, sleeps, and plays.
Cognitive changes: Older pets can experience cognitive changes that alter their ability to recognize appropriate places to urinate. You will find a normal amount of urine in any place throughout the house.
Pain: Pain can lead to inappropriate elimination as well, as some pets find it difficult to posture or physically move to the correct location. Sometimes this can look like your dog is dripping urine as they try to make their way outside.
Home Remedies For Urinary Incontinence In Dogs
Next to teaching your dog to do Kegel exercises, what do you do about urinary incontinence in dogsand leakage?
If your dogs leaving little puddles of urine around the house, it its probably not just bad behavior.
Whether its due to old age, injury or illness, incontinence is no fun for anyone. When your dog cant hold her urine, accidents happen.
So lets talk about the possible causes of your dogs incontinence, and what you can do to help her .
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What Is Urinary Incontinence
Urinary incontinence is the accidental loss of urine. According to the National Association for Continence, over 25 million adult Americans experience temporary or chronic urinary incontinence. UI can occur at any age, but it is more common among women over 50. Urinary incontinence may be a temporary condition that results from an underlying medical condition. It can range from the discomfort of slight losses of urine to severe, frequent wetting.
Can Incontinence In Dogs Be Temporary
Incontinence in dogs can be temporary if caused by a disease or injury, and many dogs will make a complete recovery. For instance, in dogs with a urinary infection or urinary stones, the incontinence will resolve once the underlying cause is treated.
Dogs with spinal cord damage or disease are less likely to make a recovery, although it depends on the type of damage. USMI is a permanent cause of incontinence, but it can be managed with medication.
After graduating as a veterinarian from the University of Nottingham, Dr Joanna Woodnutt went on to practice companion animal medicine in the Midlands. She quickly developed a love of consulting and helping clients with medical problems such as dermatology, behavior and nutrition, and has written for countless online and print publications.
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What Causes Urethral Incontinence
There are several potential causes of urinary incontinence. These include:
- Neurological causes including spinal injuries, disruption of the nerves controlling the bladder, and brain diseases or lesions.
- Bladder storage dysfunction including bladder hypercontractility in which the bladder contracts frequently resulting in small amounts of urine leakage.
- Urinary tract infections or bladder tumors, or any condition that compresses the bladder from the outside.
- Urethral disorders in which the muscles that close the urethra fail to tightly contract, and urine leakage occurs. This is one of the more common causes and is often associated with hormone responsive urinary incontinence, urinary tract infection or inflammation, prostatic disease in male dogs, and vestibulovaginal anomaly in females.
- Anatomic abnormalities such as a congenital defect, an injury, or a surgery that has caused damage or altered the normal bladder function. Ectopic ureters , urethral hypoplasia, and vulvar or perivulvar conformation abnormalities are some of the anatomic abnormalities that can cause urinary incontinence.
- Urine retention results when a dog will not urinate due to stress, fear, or behavioral abnormality and ultimately urine leakage occurs when the pressure inside the bladder exceeds urethral outlet resistance.
Am I At A Higher Risk Of Incontinence At An Older Age
Your body constantly changes throughout your life. As you age, the muscles that support your pelvic organs can weaken. This means that your bladder and urethra have less support often leading to urine leakage. Your risk for developing incontinence as you age might be higher if you have a chronic health condition, have given birth to children, went through menopause, have an enlarged prostate or have had prostate cancer surgery. Its important to talk to your healthcare provider over time about the risks of incontinence and ways you can manage it without interference to your daily life.
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Treating Other Causes Of Urinary Incontinence
Surgical Procedures To Treat Incontinence
Certain cases may only be treated by surgical procedures. Several different treatments might be required to treat the whole problem, but most procedures revolve around strengthening the bladder neck muscles.
This can be achieved either through implanting a urethral occluder, through injecting collagen around the sphincter muscles, or through tacking the bladder into a more functional position. But not all treatments offer a permanent fix, which is why most vets will only ever resort to surgery after having explored every other possible course of treatment.
Urinary Tract Infections From Prednisone
Urinary incontinence in dogs from prednisone
Prednisone can predispose dogs to infections. If your dog is prescribed prednisone for the long haul, it’s important to montior him carefully for signs of trouble. Urinary tract infections in dogs taking prednisone are not uncommon and prednisone may mask the symptoms.
To make things even more confusing, urinary tract infections tend to cause increased drinking and increased urination as well and therefore it may be difficult determining whether these symptoms are coming from a urinary tract infection or if they are just a side effect from the prednisone.
Its therefore important testing the dog’s urine regularly for signs of infection while taking prednisone. A urine sample can be easily collected by sliding a clean tupperware container under the dog and then bringing the fresh sample to the appointment.
Onset of Diabetes from Prednisone
Prednisone is a drug that has a tendency to increase blood glucose levels , especially in dogs who do not have 100 percent control of their blood glucose levels.
In dogs who are pre-diabetic, the administration of steroids long-term may therefore potentially cause the onset of diabetes. Although the onset of diabetes is more commonly seen in long-term use of steroids, a dog who is sitting at the edge of developing diabetes can be pushed over the edge with even just one single dose of prednisone, explains veterinarian Dr. Joey.
How Is Urinary Incontinence In Dogs Treated
Urinary incontinence in dogs can often be successfully treated or managed with surgery and medications.
Specific treatment of an underlying disease or condition with surgery or medications may resolve incontinence. When no specific cause can be identified for the incontinence, drugs may be given that increase the tone of the muscles that hold urine in the bladder. Drug therapy for incontinence may be based on a trial of different drugs in various doses until an effective combination is identified.
Can Urinary Incontinence Be Treated
Yes, in most cases urinary incontinence can be effectively treated. For instance, to treat urethral incompetence, your veterinarian may prescribe hormonal-based medications such as estrogen compounds for females, testosterone for males, or phenylpropanolamine to strengthen the muscles and tissues in the urinary tract that help retain urine in the bladder. Other treatments such as antibiotics for infection, anti-inflammatory and pain medications for arthritis, and medications for diabetes and other metabolic diseases may be prescribed. Surgery may be required in cases of spinal cord injury, bladder stones, and anatomical defects of the urinary tract.
It is very important that you have your dog seen by a veterinarian if you notice any signs of urinary incontinence. Your veterinarian will perform specific diagnostic tests to narrow down the wide range of causes, and prescribe the most appropriate treatment for your dog. The type of treatment your dog receives will depend on what is causing the incontinence.
Urethral Sphincter Mechanism Incompetence
I’ll start off by saying that the most common cause of incontinence in older female dogs, especially in those that have been spayed, is something called urethral sphincter mechanism incompetence or .
What happens in this incontinence cause is that the urethra, which is the tube that drains the bladder to the outside world, loses its tone. It becomes a bit floppy and flaccid. As a result the resistance to flow of urine, and the ability to hold urine in the bladder drops.
The underlying cause of this reduced tone is hormonal, explaining why spayed female dogs are more likely to suffer from this incontinence.
What happens next, is that typically we get leakage of urine when a dog is lying down. Lying puts a little bit of increased pressure on the bladder compared to standing, although you can get leakage at other times. Examples would be if your dog is coughing or running. That said, leaking urine when your dog is lying down and sleeping is often the first sign of urinary incontinence.
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You Are Your Dear Dogs Biggest Advocate
You know your dog better than anyone else, and your observations are your dogs first line of defense in keeping her healthy. Finally, here are three things that you can do right now to help your dog:
Is Incontinence In Dogs A Reason To Put A Dog Down
Almost all cases of urinary incontinence can be improved, so its generally recommended that you trial treatment for your dog rather than opting to euthanize them. However, this will depend on your dogs other illnesses and the cause in some cases you may make the decision that incontinence is just one thing too much, and its time to say goodbye.
Fecal incontinence is much less likely to improve, and it has more of an effect on ongoing quality of life. In this situation, your vet might have a discussion with you about putting your dog to sleep. Remember though, its always your choice and you can ask about other options instead.
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