Urine is stored in the bladder. When a dog releases himself, the muscles in the bladder wall contract, sneezing the urine out through the urethra (the narrow tube that carries the urine outside the body).
A ring of muscle called a sphincter surrounds the urethra near the bladder, closing off the urine flow until it is time for the dog to release himself.
Urinary incontinence is involuntary or uncontrollable leaking of urine from the bladder.
“Canine urinary continence is a symptom of some underlying health issues, and should not be confused with house training problem or submissive urination (which usually happens in young puppies).”
An incontinent dog usually wets his bed, or has “accidents” in inappropriate places in the house. Sometimes, he may dribble urine and may need to urinate more frequently than normal.
There are several types of urinary incontinence in dogs caused by various underlying health issues. Each requires different treatment.
It is therefore important to get the incontinent dog to a vet for a check-up so that the underlying cause can be identified and treated appropriately.
Types and Causes of Canine Urinary Incontinence
This type of canine urinary incontinence is the result of hormonal deficiency. Middle-aged to older spayed female dogs, and sometimes older neutered male dogs, are prone to this type of incontinence, which is caused by a deficiency in estrogen in females and testosterone in males.
Both of these two reproductive hormones are responsible for maintaining the bladder’s smooth muscle groups and the muscle tone of the sphincter. The common complaint regarding this form of incontinence is leaking of urine while the dog is resting or sleeping (similar to bed-wetting).
This type of incontinence is caused by neurological disorders as a result of spinal cord injuries, brain tumors, infections, etc., because these problems can interfere with the nerves that control the bladder.
Depending on the seriousness of the nerve damage, the dog may dribble urine intermittently or constantly. Dogs with this type of urinary incontinence may also show other signs related to neurological problems, such as a loss of coordination, fainting, and seizures.
Kidney and Bladder Problems
One common symptom of these health problems is frequent urination. If a dog with one of these problems is not allowed to go outside to urinate, he may urinate in inappropriate places inside the house.
Ectopic ureter is a congenital problem. Instead of opening in the bladder, one or both of the ureters open in the urethra, vagina, or uterus. This results in constant dribbling of urine.
Females are eight times more likely to have this problem than males.
As well, certain breeds, such as the Siberian Huskies, Toy Poodles, Labrador Retrievers, Collie, Welsh Corgi, and some breeds of terrier are predisposed to this birth defect.
Other Possible Causes
Treatment of Canine Urinary Incontinence
Treatment of urinary incontinence in dogs depends on the underlying health problem. Very often, identifying and treating the underlying cause can solve the problem of incontinence.
For hormone-responsive incontinence, drugs (e.g. phenylpropanolamine) that increase the muscle tone of the sphincter are usually prescribed.
Ectopic ureter can be corrected by surgery.