Incontinence In Dogs: Why Your Pooch Can’t Hold It In

Oct 24, 2023 | Dogs & Puppies | 1 comment

Urinary incontinence in dogs is when a dog loses control over its bladder, leading to unintentional and involuntary urine leakage, making your dog unable to control when and where they urinate.

This condition affects not only our furry companions but also the peace of mind of pet owners.  Imagine coming home to find puddles of urine on your floor and your beloved pet looking confused and embarrassed.

This scenario can be distressing, but it’s crucial to remember that your dog isn’t doing this on purpose. They might be suffering from urinary incontinence, a common issue in dogs.

It’s essential to approach this topic with empathy and a willingness to learn more, as it can impact your dog’s quality of life and your household’s cleanliness.

Causes of Urinary Incontinence in Dogs

Understanding the underlying causes of urinary incontinence is crucial for helping your dog find the proper treatment. Various factors can contribute to this condition:

Age and Breed

Age plays a significant role in urinary incontinence. As dogs grow older, the muscles controlling their bladder may weaken, leading to leakage.

Hormonal Changes

Hormonal imbalances, particularly in spayed females, can trigger urinary incontinence. When a female dog is spayed, the levels of estrogen decrease, which can affect the strength of the muscles responsible for holding urine.

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

Infections in the urinary tract can irritate the bladder and lead to incontinence. If your dog is frequently urinating in small amounts and seems uncomfortable, a UTI might be the culprit.

Neurological Issues

Certain neurological conditions, like spinal cord injuries or herniated discs, can disrupt the communication between the brain and the bladder, resulting in urinary incontinence in dogs.


Some medications prescribed for other health issues can have the side effect of causing urinary incontinence. It’s crucial to discuss potential side effects with your vet when starting a new medication.

Congenital Abnormalities

In rare cases, dogs can be born with congenital abnormalities that affect the urinary system, making them more prone to incontinence.

Behavioral Factors

Stress, anxiety, or changes in the household can lead to behavioral incontinence, where a dog may urinate indoors to respond to emotional distress.


Being overweight can put extra pressure on the bladder and lead to incontinence issues.

dog peeing

Symptoms of Dog Incontinence

Symptoms of dog incontinence can vary depending on the severity of the condition and its underlying cause. Here are some common signs of urinary incontinence:

Frequent Urination

Dogs with incontinence often need to urinate more frequently than usual. You may notice them needing to go outside or use the bathroom indoors more often.

Dribbling Urine

Incontinence can lead to constant dribbling of urine, even when your dog is not intentionally trying to urinate. This can result in wet spots on bedding or around the house.

Leaking Urine While Sleeping

Many dogs with urinary incontinence experience urine leakage while resting or sleeping. This can lead to wet spots on their bedding.

Licking the Genital Area

Dogs with incontinence may lick their genital area more frequently to try to clean themselves. This can be a sign of discomfort or irritation caused by the constant presence of urine.

Accidents Indoors

If your previously house-trained dog begins having accidents indoors, it could be a sign of incontinence. They may not even realize they’re urinating.

Urine Odor

A strong urine odor on your dog’s fur or around the house may indicate incontinence.

Skin Irritation

Constant exposure to urine can lead to skin irritation and redness in the genital area and hind legs.

Types of Dogs Prone to Incontinence

Certain dog breeds and factors make dogs more prone to urinary incontinence.

  • Boxers,
  • Doberman Pinschers,
  • Old English Sheepdogs
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Irish Setter
  • English Springer Spaniel
  • Rottweiler

Diagnosis of Urinary Incontinence in Dogs

The diagnosis of urinary incontinence in dogs depends on the underlying cause. A comprehensive examination by a veterinarian can help make a diagnosis.

The diagnostic process typically includes:

Medical History

Your vet will ask about your dog’s medical history, including any changes in behavior, frequency of urination, and when the incontinence started.

Physical Examination

A thorough physical exam is conducted to check for any physical abnormalities, discomfort, or signs of infection.


A urine sample is analyzed to check for signs of infection, blood in the urine, or other abnormalities.

Blood Tests

Blood tests may be performed to assess kidney function and hormone levels, especially in cases where hormonal imbalances are suspected.

Radiography (X-rays) or Ultrasound

These imaging techniques can help identify structural abnormalities in the urinary tract, bladder, or surrounding organs.

dog incontinence solutions

Treatment for Dog Incontinence

Treatment for dog incontinence aims to improve your furry friend’s quality of life and manage the condition effectively. The choice of treatment depends on the underlying cause of incontinence and its severity. Here are some options:


These medications work by strengthening the muscles that control the bladder or by increasing sphincter tone. Common medications include Phenylpropanolamine (PPA) and hormone replacement therapy (e.g., estrogen).

Dietary Changes

Special diets to manage weight or urinary tract issues.

Behavioral Management

Consistent routines and bathroom breaks.

Physical Therapy

Exercises to strengthen bladder control.

Surgery: Required for structural abnormalities or severe cases.

Alternative Therapies

Explore options like acupuncture.

Lifestyle Changes

Ensure easy access to the outdoors and a clean environment.


Dealing with urinary incontinence in your beloved dog can be challenging, but with the proper care and attention, you can help improve their quality of life.

Remember that every dog is unique, and the right approach to managing urinary incontinence may vary. Your commitment to your furry friend’s well-being and the guidance of a trusted veterinarian will help ensure they lead a happy and comfortable life despite this condition.


American paws divider



What are the costs of incontinence treatment?

The cost of incontinence treatment for dogs can vary widely depending on factors like the underlying cause, treatment type, and location. It may include medications, surgeries, or lifestyle changes. Costs range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.

What breeds have the lowest risk of incontinence?

Breeds like Dachshunds, Bichon Frises, and Chihuahuas tend to have a lower risk of urinary incontinence. However, any breed can develop it, so monitoring your dog’s health is essential.

How long does treatment take to show results?

The time it takes for incontinence treatment to show results can vary depending on the underlying cause and the treatment method used. Some dogs may respond within a few days, while others may take several weeks to show improvement.

Can incontinence in dogs be temporary?

Incontinence in dogs can be temporary. It might occur due to urinary tract infections, medications, or stress. Temporary incontinence often resolves with appropriate treatment or changes in circumstances.

Can stress or anxiety trigger incontinence?

Stress or anxiety can trigger incontinence in dogs. These emotional factors can lead to a loss of bladder control, resulting in accidents indoors. Reducing stressors can help manage stress-induced incontinence.

Is incontinence contagious among dogs?

Urinary incontinence is not contagious among dogs. It’s a medical condition related to an individual dog’s health, hormonal changes, or physical factors, and it cannot be spread from one dog to another through contact or exposure.


1 Comment

  1. ConcernedDogMomOlivia

    Dealing with incontinence in our senior dog, It’s tough, but your article offered some valuable insights. Any other pet parents going through this?

Submit a Comment