What is incontinence in older dogs? It is the dog’s inability to control the elimination of waste matter; So there is urinary incontinence and bowel incontinence. Senior dog incontinence is not uncommon and if you have a geriatric canine baby you may be faced with considering doggie diapers for older dogs as a way of dealing with the problem, or as a possible solution.
If you are noticing that your senior dog is having accidents indoors, or is dribbling urine around the house or perhaps in his bedding, these are signs of incontinence and it’s an issue that needs to be addressed.
Both types of incontinence can be quite challenging for a pet parent, especially if your pet has always been mostly an indoor dog and now your home is at risk of being soiled daily by ‘accidents’.
How can you determine if diapering your dog is the best solution for you and your pet?
Find Out For Sure If It’s a Chronic Condition Due to Age
“Chronic” means constantly recurring or persisting long-term. If your dog’s incontinence is indeed a chronic condition due to his advancing years, you probably will be looking at diapers as a good option for you and your precious pooch. However, not all canine incontinence fits into the ‘chronic condition’ category.
Incontinence in your pet could be a symptom of a treatable or temporary underlying cause. Make an appointment with your veterinarian and while the doctor is doing the physical exam, be sure to fill him or her in on everything you’ve observed happening with your dog and his bathroom incidents.
Also let the vet know if you’ve observed your dog constantly licking the urethral area as this can also be a sign of urinary incontinence.
If urinary incontinence is your dog’s issue, the good doctor may want to run a urinalysis or other tests to rule out a urinary tract infection. Sometimes excitement or anxiety can cause canine bladder leakage.
If uncontrollable diarrhea is your dog’s problem (bowel incontinence) the vet will want to run different tests to rule out viral, parasitic, or digestive causes.
Certain prescription medications can have incontinence as a side effect. If your pet is currently on meds, be sure to discuss this with your veterinarian as well.
In short, don’t put your dog in a diaper before the vet determines if the cause is treatable or not.
Doggie Diaper Dilemma?
O.K. so if all treatable causes of your dog’s incontinence have been ruled out, it’s likely his condition is long-term and due to his venerable age.
Incontinence in senior dogs can be the result of different things such as weakened muscle tone or sphincter tone, spinal degeneration or old injuries, senility, or a combination of such age-related causes.
It’s a sad reality that senior dog incontinence is a common reason why some folks have their pets put down. I find this especially heartbreaking because although using doggie diapers for older dogs is by no means an effortless undertaking, canine incontinence issues can be easily managed with the right support product.
When my precious English spaniel mix Toni (who lived to be 18 years old ~ all of them happily spent with my husband and me), started showing signs of urinary incontinence in her 16th year, doggie diapers were a great help to our situation.
She was always a prissy little girl (and was very well potty trained) and seemed mortified when she left puddles in the house. Diapers took care of all that. It gave us all peace of mind.
And there are different kinds of diapers for older dogs available on the market today (male and female); So you can choose the one that’s right for your pet and your overall situation.
Choosing The Right Diaper
Disposable Vs. Washable ~ Your first choice will be between disposable and washable diapers. When I first started diapering Toni, I started with disposables just to get a feel for what I was dealing with. I wanted to find out how she would adjust to wearing them and how often I needed to change them.
Although she took to wearing them well, she was bothered by the rustling noise they made when she walked. It scared her at first and she would try to run from the noise, which of course created more noise. It wasn’t long before we switched to washable diapers.
Yes, disposables are more convenient, but in the long-term, washables are much more eco-friendly and cost-effective. They also tend to fit better.
Male Vs. Female Doggie Diapers ~ Of course, male and female canines have different diaper needs, though most all require a tail hole! Lets looks at both sexes and the different ‘incontinence scenarios’ they might be experiencing and what would be the best diaper choice.
Male dogs who are dribbling small amounts of urine constantly or often, will do best with a ‘belly band’. Belly bands are more of a reusable waist-wrap rather than a full diaper (see below) and they give your dog a bit more freedom. They’re also easier to change than a full diaper.
For female dogs with urinary incontinence, a fuller diaper is needed to cover her urethra and absorb leaks. The better diapers on the market today are made of breathable fabrics designed to keep her dry and protected (as well as keep your home and furniture dry and protected!) See my review for the best dog diapers for female dogs.
Dealing with urinary and bowel incontinence is a more challenging scenario for pet parents.
Male or female dogs suffering from both bladder and bowel incontinence need the protection of a full diaper. The best diapers available today have a highly absorbent lining and a water-proof outer layer to protect against leaks. But it’s necessary to know that someone should be on hand to change the diaper immediately after the dog defecates, or several times a day if the bowel flow is constant. This is crucial if you want to avoid rashes and infections.
Speaking as someone who worked in a veterinary clinic for years and changed many a senior doggie diaper, a trick I learned in dealing with bowel incontinence was to add a disposable liner to the back of the diaper for easier cleaning.
Changing The Doggie Diaper
Just as a human baby’s genitals should be cleaned each time the diaper is changed, so should your canine baby’s. You can do this with pet wipes, or if you’ve got a bigger mess, you may have do a quick sponge bath; But your dog’s ‘diaper area’ should be clean and dry before putting on another diaper.
Another trick I learned when dealing with Toni’s urinary incontinence was to keep her fur trimmed short around the diaper area, along the bottom of her tail, and down the back of her hind legs. If you have a medium to long haired breed, this makes it much easier to keep your dog clean.
Other Things You Can Do
There are other things you can do to make dealing with canine incontinence easier for you and more comfortable for your dog.
Increase His Time Outdoors ~ Even if he’s always been mostly an inside pet, most all dogs love the great outdoors! If you have a fenced in yard and the weather permits, you can gradually extend the time he spends outside, diaper-free. Alternatively, you can make a leash walk a daily habit. It’ll be good for both of you and will likely bring you closer to one another.
Use Washable, Reusable Pee Pads ~ These come in different sizes and can be used to protect his favorite piece of furniture or any area of the house you want, since they are super-absorbent and waterproof.
Urinary Incontinent Dog Bed ~ To keep your dog from sleeping in a puddle and keep your floors clean, they make special beds for urinary incontinent pets.
Having a dog with incontinence issues is certainly not a situation that any pet parent would choose, but neither is it a good reason for putting your beloved friend to sleep. With a bit of knowledge and the right assistance products, senior dog incontinence can be quite manageable!
Thank you for visiting my website and I welcome any comments, questions, or shared experiences! If you have any, please leave them in the comment section below!