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Urinary Incontinence

What it is Urinary Incontinence:

Urinary Incontinence is defined as the involuntary or uncontrollable leaking of urine from the bladder. There are many ways that urinary incontinence can come to be, but age is the most common source of the problem. As pets age, they produce a decreased amount of the hormones they need to control the tissue that acts as a valve for the bladder. Incontinence has several secondary problems resulting from the leaking urine like bladder infections and urine scalding.

What to Watch For:

  • Dripping urine
  • Constantly licking near the vulva or penile opening
  • Finding wet spots in bed or where pet is sleeping
  • Irritated skin from contact with urine

  • NOTE: Finding wet spots in the house doesn't necessarily mean your pet is incontinent. Pets with increased thirst and increased urination may urinate in the house due to increased urine volume and not being allowed outside frequently enough. If you have a cat, check out Cat Spraying to rule out a behavioral problem.

    How it's Caused:

    Urinary incontinence can have neurogenic and non-neurogenic causes. If your dog shows the signs of Urinary Incontinence mentioned above, the first step of treatment is to identify the cause.

    1. Neurogenic causes: abnormalities of parts of the nervous system involved in regulation of urination.

    2. Non-neurogenic causes: congenital problems (abnormalities present at birth) such as a misplaced urethral opening (ectopic ureter), over-distension of the bladder due to partial obstruction, hormone-responsive incontinence, and incontinence associated with urinary tract infection.

    Pets can be incontinent for many different reasons. It can involve the bladder, the urethra, or it can be caused by abnormalities in the parts of the brain and spinal cord that control bladder function.

    Young pets may have a birth defect that causes incontinence. Ectopic ureter(s) is the most common birth defect that causes incontinence in young dogs. The ureters carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder. If one or both ureters by-pass the bladder and connect to an abnormal location such as the urethra or vagina, the puppy may drip urine. Dog breeds with a high occurrence of this birth defect include:

  • Siberian Huskies
  • Miniature Poodle
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Collie
  • Welsh Corgi
  • Wire-haired Fox Terrier
  • West Highland White Terrier

    Female dogs are affected the most. If one ureter is abnormal, the dog will dribble urine but will also be able to urinate normally. If both ureters are affected, then the puppy won't be able to urinate normally at all.

  • Bladder infection: This can cause either a strong urge to urinate scarring of the bladder, preventing it from stretching to hold urine. In this case the pet is usually not truly incontinent. Instead, they are aware that they are urinating, and urinate in abnormal locations or very frequently because of a strong urge to empty their bladder.

    Blockage: Pets with a partial blockage of the urethra with a stone or a tumor may show incontinence. If they can't completely empty their bladder because of blockage of the path to the outside, the bladder can become so large that it forces some urine to leak around the blockage. The enlarged bladder can be felt on examination. Total blockage of urine flow is usually fatal in 3 to 4 days.

    Hormone-responsive incontinence: Occurs in neutered dogs of both sexes and occasionally in spayed female cats. It is the most common in female dogs. These pets can urinate normally, but leak urine while resting. Hormone-responsive incontinence can occur months to years after a pet is neutered. Physical examination and blood and urine tests are usually given for these pets.

    Age: Pets may become incontinent as they get older. This may be from the weakening of the muscles that hold urine in the bladder. There are various diseases that can cause a pet to create an abnormal amount of urine such as polyuria. Several such diseases occur in older pets. If a pet has one of these diseases and frequently has a full bladder, the bladder can push against the weakened sphincter, causing incontinence. Older pets can also develop senility and become unaware that they are leaking. Brain or spinal cord disease can cause a pet to lose control over bladder function.

    Brain or Spinal cord disease:
    Dogs and cats with these diseases may either leak urine or be unable to urinate. They will usually have other signs of nervous system disease like muscle weakness or paralysis.

    Intermittent incontinence: Primarily at rest, and has been reported in cats that are positive for the feline leukemia virus. It is not yet known how the virus causes incontinence.

    Vulvovaginal stenosis: A less common cause of incontinence in female dogs. It is a condition in which the vagina is narrowed where the urethra ends. Some urine may get trapped in the vagina in front of the narrowed area. When the pet gets up, the urine pours out. The incontinence may or may not resolve because other defects may also be present.


    The treatment for Urinary Incontinence will of course depend on the cause. If the cause is from urethral weakness or old age, estrogen supplements may be prescribed. There are several medications that can aid in the strengthening of the bladder muscles, allowing for better control of the bladder.
    We recommend:


    Unfortunately there is really no way to prevent Urinary Incontinence due to age. We can however recommend several products that will keep your dog's body functioning well into their older years. We also carry diapers, which are a convenient way to keep pet owners from worrying about accidents.
    We recommend:

    Urine Removal:

    When accidents occur because of Urinary Incontinence, it's easy to get upset about having to constantly clean up after your pet. Luckily there are products available that make cleaning up accidents extremely easy. Urine Off is a great product because it addresses the underlying problem with urine cleaning - removing what household cleaners can't. Most cleaners can't remove the uric acid which leaves pet owners with frustrating stains and smells. Urine Off has enzymes that break down the uric acid that most cleaners cannot remove.

    We also recommend: