Urinary incontinence means your pet cannot control his or her urination or urinates without realizing it, usually when sleeping or resting. Urinary incontinence is most common in middle-age spayed female dogs.
Urinary incontinence is different from inappropriate elimination, which is deliberate urination around the house or outside the litter box—although both may be driven by underlying medical problems. We tackle the issue of peeing on the carpet in a separate blog.
Why does urinary incontinence occur mostly during sleep or rest?
Your pet’s muscles are totally relaxed, including the muscles in the urethra (the urinary tube) that normally keep urine inside the urinary bladder.
Why is urinary incontinence most common in middle-age spayed female dogs?
The hormones estrogen and progesterone strengthen the muscles that keep urine inside the urinary bladder. When a female is spayed, she has less estrogen and progesterone. The male hormone testosterone also helps strengthen the muscles that exit the urinary bladder. While urinary incontinence is rare in male dogs, it is most common in neutered males.
My female dog pees just a tiny bit in her sleep. Do I need to be concerned
Female dogs often urinate a few drops in their sleep, enough to wet the fur but not enough to wet the bedding. It may not be enough urine to bother you, but it is enough to make your dog prone to urinary tract infections. Chronic UTIs can lead to kidney infections and bladder stones. That’s why it’s crucial to treat even very mild urinary incontinence.
How is urinary incontinence treated?
First we must rule out any underlying medical condition. We can diagnose urinary tract infection with a simple urinalysis. Radiographs may be necessary to detect bladder stones. Other conditions that result in an abnormally full bladder include early kidney disease, Cushing’s disease, and diabetes. Pets with these conditions are much more prone to leakage. We can treat all these problems with medication and/or diet.
We can treat urinary incontinence by replacing lost hormones with medication: Proin, which is phenylpropanolamine (similar to progesterone) and Incurin, which is canine estradiol (similar to estrogen).
Pets on long-term medication must be monitored with lab work and physical exams every six months to ensure the treatment is safe and effective. Pets on Proin also need regular blood pressure checks, since pets with high blood pressure should not take this medication.
Urinary issues can be complex, and we understand they are frustrating—we can help! Call us at (919) 544-2226.