Female dog urinary incontinence is not uncommon, especially in spayed female dogs. This conditions also tends to get worse as your dog reaches her middle to senior years. Consequently, it’s usually seen in older, spayed female canines. But what is it exactly and what should you do if it affects your Baby Girl?
Urinary incontinence is involuntary leakage of urine from the bladder. This uncontrolled urination can have different underlying causes. Needless to say, this condition can be quite frustrating for both you and your precious pet.
Just keep in mind that she isn’t doing it on purpose and that she is just as upset about it as you are. Luckily there are ways to treat and manage female dog urinary incontinence, but the treatment depends on the root of the problem.
Let’s look at some underlying causes.
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
Urinary tract infections or bladder infections are more common in female dogs than males. UTI’s happen when bacteria gets in through the urethral opening, travels up the urethra and makes itself at home. If this happens to your golden girl, she will likely develop a urinary tract infection.
If so, signs you would see would be:
- She’s having accidents in the house and you may notice blood in the urine
- Whining and straining when she get in the ‘pee’ position outside
- Dribbling urine when walking or running
- Her bed is damp after she’s had a nap
- Frequently licking around her private area
- She needs to be let outside more often to potty
A trip to your veterinarian is the next step. Hopefully, the doctor is familiar with your dog’s history and will review it thoroughly and do a complete physical exam as well as a urinalysis. If the diagnosis is indeed a UTI, the treatment will be a round of antibiotics to clear the infection.
Depending on the severity of the infection, you may be required to bring your dog back for a second vet visit to make sure she is well on the way to recovery. Sometimes another course of antibiotics is necessary.
Spayed Female Dogs
You’ve done the right thing and had your dog spayed. You had it done at the optimum time recommended by the vet. You feel good that your precious pup doesn’t have to go through the heat cycle every 5-6 months and that she will not be contributing to the sinfully vast overpopulation of one of the world’s most delightful creatures.
This is by no means a recommendation to not have your female dog spayed. Unless you are going to breed her (for all the right reasons), neutering our pets is always the right thing to do, both for the health of the animals and the health of the planet. But having said that, the fact is that about 20% of spayed females will develop urinary incontinence to some degree within a few years after spaying.
Normally, when a female dog is spayed, both ovaries and the uterus are removed. The ovaries are responsible for secreting estrogen, a hormone that plays a part in urination control by affecting the muscle tone of the bladder and urethral sphincters. When the influence of estrogen is removed, these sphincters become weakened, which can lead to incontinence.
But 20 percent of all spayed female dogs is a relatively small number. By far, urinary incontinence is most commonly seen in middle-aged to senior, spayed female dogs.
Urinary Incontinence in Older Spayed Female Dogs
When your darling dog reaches her middle to senior years, further loss of muscle tone inevitably occurs. This decreases muscle contraction and worsens the already weakened condition of the urinary sphincters.
You may notice your dog dribbling urine as she goes up the stairs, or find a wet spot on her bed after she’s had a snooze. Maybe you are seeing her licking her vulva more often than usual, or she’s squatting for an unusually long time when peeing outside. These are all signs of urinary incontinence.
As with most all medical conditions in your geriatric girl, a trip to the veterinarian is required before treatment can begin. Your vet will want to know exactly what symptoms your dog is exhibiting, so don’t be shy…tell the Good Doc everything you’ve noticed. He or she will likely want to run a few tests to rule out other underlying causes such as bladder stones or a urinary tract infection. In certain rare cases, a physiological or neurological abnormality may be responsible.
Once your veterinarian has concluded that your Old Baby Girl is indeed experiencing urinary incontinence due to advancing years and a lack of estrogen, a treatment will be recommended.
- Medication ~ The good news is that medication works for most dogs with this disorder. Over half respond well to hormone replacement therapy, the hormone in this case being estrogen. Your vet may prescribe estriol or diethylstilbestrol, neither of which is a cure, but are used long term to manage the condition. Another commonly used medication in this case is phenylpropanolamine (PPA). This is a non-hormonal drug that strengthens urethral closure receptors. Up to 90% of spayed female dogs respond beautifully to PPA. Estrogen therapy and PPA are frequently both prescribed because often they work better together.
- Surgery ~ If medication doesn’t work well for your precious pet or she has an adverse drug reaction, there are surgical options available. Urethral surgical implants, collagen injections around the urethral sphincter, and bladder ‘tacking’ procedures are among them. But if it comes to this, your vet will recommend one and explain it to you in detail.
- Doggie Diapers ~ Just the fact that if you Google “doggie diapers” you’ll see that you can find them just about anywhere, should tell you that you and your beloved baby are not alone in your incontinence predicament. You can get disposable or washable female doggie diapers. You can also get “puppy pee pads” in any size to lay on her bed or other areas she likes to hang out. Alternatively, you can use rubber sheets.
If you are going to use doggie diapers, keep in mind that urine is acidic and can be a skin irritant for your dog, especially the sensitive skin on her lower belly. If you won’t be able to change her diaper for several hours, you can sprinkle cornstarch in it to neutralize the acid. You can also use barrier creams like Udder Ointment or A and D ointment without zinc oxide. Zinc oxide is not good for dogs if they lick it.
You can also keep your dog’s skin clean with baby wipes or pet wipes which are also widely available. Just make sure to dry her well before putting on the diaper.
Female Dog Urinary Incontinence Is Manageable
So now you know that urinary incontinence doesn’t have to be an upsetting, messy condition that you and your cuddly canine companion just have to live with. There are things you can do to help your dog deal with this occurrence in her later years with comfort and dignity.
I hope you’ve learned all you need to know about this subject but if you have any questions or comments, I would love to know about them, so please leave them below!
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