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  • Writer's pictureVetMed Team

Urinary Incontinence in Dogs: Housetrained Dog Peeing Inside?

Urinary incontinence is a condition that can often catch dog owners by surprise. The sudden discovery of wet spots on the floor or bedding may lead to initial assumptions of behavioral issues or simple accidents. However, involuntary leakage of urine is often a symptom of an underlying medical issue requiring attention. This comprehensive guide discusses its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment options. Whether you are a longtime dog owner or a new pet parent, this article will equip you with essential knowledge to better understand and address this condition should it arise in your four-legged friend.

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What is Urinary Incontinence in Dogs?

Urinary incontinence is defined as the involuntary leakage of urine. While occasional accidents are common among younger dogs still in the house-training phase, persistent episodes of unplanned urination typically point to a medical issue. This condition can occur in dogs of all ages and breeds, although it tends to be more common in older canines and is often reported in spayed females.

Symptoms of Urinary Incontinence

Identifying the symptoms of urinary incontinence in dogs can be crucial for early diagnosis and effective treatment. Here are some common symptoms to look out for:

  • Wet Spots on Bedding: Finding wet spots where the dog has been sitting or sleeping.

  • Dribbling: Mild to substantial urine dribbling, particularly when the dog is relaxed or sleeping.

  • Frequent Licking: Observed excessive licking of the genital area, which could indicate discomfort or irritation.

  • Odor: A noticeable urine smell, particularly around areas where the dog sleeps or sits.

  • Straining or Difficulty: Straining during urination, or appearing to have difficulty in starting or completing urination.

What Are the Causes of Urinary Incontinence in Dogs?

Understanding the underlying causes of urinary incontinence in dogs is vital for effective diagnosis and treatment. A range of factors can contribute to this condition:

  • Urinary Tract Infection: An infection in the urinary tract can make it difficult for dogs to hold their urine.

  • Anatomic Abnormalities: Congenital or acquired structural issues can interfere with proper bladder function.

  • Weak Bladder: Some dogs naturally have a weaker bladder, leading to poor control over urination.

  • Spinal Injury or Degeneration: Issues with the spinal cord can interrupt the neural pathways responsible for bladder control.

  • Inherited Medical Condition: Some dogs are born with medical conditions that predispose them to urinary incontinence.

  • Hormonal Imbalance: Hormonal fluctuations, especially in spayed females, can lead to weakened bladder control.

  • Prostate Disorders: Particularly in male dogs, issues with the prostate can lead to incontinence.

  • Diseases that Cause Excessive Drinking: Conditions like diabetes, kidney disease, and Cushing’s disease can lead to increased water intake, thus increasing the likelihood of incontinence.

  • Some Medications: Medications such as corticosteroids can have side effects that include urinary incontinence.

  • Urinary Stones: These can obstruct the urinary tract, causing involuntary leakage of urine.

By identifying the specific cause, veterinarians can better tailor treatment to the individual dog’s needs.

Can You Prevent Urinary Incontinence in Dogs?

While it may not be possible to prevent all forms of urinary incontinence, there are steps that dog owners can take to reduce the risks:

Regular Veterinary Visits: Regular check-ups can help in early detection and management of conditions that may lead to incontinence.

Adequate Exercise: Physical activity not only keeps your dog fit but also helps in maintaining a healthy urinary system.

Diet and Hydration: A balanced diet rich in essential nutrients, along with proper hydration, can go a long way in keeping the urinary system functioning as it should.

However, it's worth noting that some causes, such as genetic predisposition or age-related changes, might not be preventable.

Types of Dogs More Likely to Have Urinary Incontinence

Though urinary incontinence can affect any dog, certain factors seem to make some canines more susceptible than others:

  • Age: Older dogs are generally at a higher risk due to weakened muscles and other age-related health issues.

  • Gender: Female dogs, particularly those that have been spayed, are more prone to urinary incontinence. This is often attributed to a decrease in estrogen levels, which can affect bladder control.

  • Breed: While research is still ongoing, certain breeds like Doberman Pinschers, Cocker Spaniels, and Old English Sheepdogs appear to have a higher incidence of urinary incontinence.

How Urinary Incontinence is Diagnosed in Dogs

Diagnosing urinary incontinence usually starts with a detailed veterinary consultation where the pet owner's observations play a crucial role. Following this, a series of diagnostic tests are generally recommended:

Urinalysis: This test helps rule out urinary tract infections and assess the general health of the urinary system.

Blood Tests: These tests can provide insights into the overall health of the dog and may reveal conditions like diabetes or kidney issues that could contribute to incontinence.

Imaging: Ultrasounds or X-rays may be performed to visualize the dog's bladder and surrounding anatomy, helping to identify issues like stones, tumors, or structural abnormalities.

What Treatment Options Are There For Urinary Incontinence in Dogs?

When it comes to treating urinary incontinence in dogs, identifying the underlying cause is of paramount importance. A veterinarian will typically tailor a treatment plan based on the diagnostic results. Here are some common treatment options:


Various drugs can be used to manage incontinence. For example, hormonal supplements might improve bladder control, especially in spayed females, while antibiotics will be the go-to treatment for urinary tract infections.

Urethral Bulking

This is a minimally invasive procedure that involves injecting a substance into the urethral lining to help it close more effectively, thereby preventing leakage. VetMed specializes in this advanced treatment option, offering it as part of our comprehensive approach to urinary incontinence. Contact us today to schedule a consultation!


Severe cases, often resulting from anatomical defects or tumors, may necessitate surgical intervention for a long-term solution.

Management Techniques

For some dogs, especially older ones, simple management techniques might be effective. This can include regular trips outdoors, using absorbent pads, or even doggie diapers to manage symptoms.

Consulting with your veterinarian is essential to diagnose the specific cause of your dog's incontinence and to design an appropriate treatment plan.

VetMed Treats Urinary Incontinence in Dogs

At VetMed, urinary incontinence is a condition we encounter frequently, and our experienced team is well-equipped to diagnose and treat it. Our state-of-the-art diagnostic tools enable us to pinpoint the underlying causes with accuracy, allowing us to develop effective treatment plans.

We work closely with pet owners, providing regular updates and involving them in decisions regarding their dog's treatment plan. Our multi-disciplinary approach ensures that your pet receives comprehensive care, optimizing their chances for a speedy and complete recovery.


Questions You've Asked Us About Urinary Incontinence in Dogs

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How can I help my dog with urinary incontinence?

Consult your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. You can also make your dog more comfortable by providing frequent bathroom breaks and using absorbent pads or doggie diapers.

Why is my dog peeing when lying down?

When should I be concerned about my dog’s incontinence?

How can I treat my dog's incontinence naturally?

What do vets give dogs for incontinence?


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