As dogs age, it’s not uncommon for them to show signs of incontinence and poor bladder control. This can be especially noticeable while your senior dog is sleeping.
Common Causes of Dog Incontinence
It’s important to realize that your dog’s urinary leaking is a physical problem. The following list includes the most common causes for dogs dripping urine while they slip.
- Estrogen Loss
A dog’s hormone levels change with age and estrogen loss is common in dogs just like it is in people. One common scenario with regards to lower estrogen levels in dogs is how it affects the sphincter muscle. As your dog urinates, the sphincter muscle will normally constrict to start and stop the flow of urine. Estrogen is a hormone that contributes to healthy muscle tone. But, lower estrogen levels can cause the dog’s sphincter to lose that healthy muscle tone and become weak, making it hard for the dog to hold the urine in. A hormone support balance product like this one can help with estrogen loss.
While some believe that certain breeds are more susceptible to incontinence; all breeds can be affected. Breeds believed to be genetically prone to incontinence are Dobermans, Springer Spaniels, Cocker Spaniels and Old English Sheep dogs.
If your dog is suffering from a urinary tract, kidney or bladder infection, this can also cause your dog to urinate more than usual and cause dripping while lying down. An infection can also be painful, so be sure to look for blood or cloudy urine which could indicate an infection that may be contributing to your dog’s incontinence. Share a urine sample with your dog’s holistic vet. Make sure the sample is fresh. While you might think to yourself that you don’t want to give too much water and cause your dog to leak even more, it’s CRITICAL that you provide your dog with LOTS of fresh, filtered water and keep your dog VERY hydrated. It’s especially important if your is battling an infection or prone to infections. Provide small watermelon chunks through out the day (room temperature) and provide coconut water (PURE) through out the day to not only hydrate your dog, but help to clean up the infection. Feeding the wrong type of diet contributes to infections.
- Spay/Neutering Incontinence
Dr. Benjamin Hart, University of California has been conducting a study since 2010 for the Canine Health Organization on the effects of spaying and neutering. You can read more about the study here. It is believed by many that early spaying and neutering causes many health problems for dogs including urinary incontinence. According to the study, it’s also believed that early neutering can have a different effect on disease risk in different breeds.
- Poor Muscle Tone
As mentioned earlier, insignificant amounts of estrogen can cause muscle loss in the sphincter which controls both holding the urine in and releasing the urine. It’s much like a leaky valve. If the seal isn’t tight, then the water will leak out. Inadequate diets and lack of exercise also contribute to a dog’s muscle tone. Feeding a diet that includes high quality protein and including daily exercise is vital for building muscle. Avoid kibble, canned junk dog foods and prescription diets which ARE junk foods. A natural, species appropriate diet is the best thing you can do for the health of your dog.
Just like us, dogs experience stress and the symptoms can include continuous licking and chewing, whimpering, not eating, shaking, soft stool AND incontinence. These symptoms may be caused by several things or a combination of several things. When dogs are fearful, they will often hold their urine too long. This may lead to infection and lead to your dog developing incontinence. Weather conditions such as thunder and lightening, holiday fireworks, dysfunction in the home, an abusive or angry family member, a dominant dog in the home, a new home or even a new baby can also play a role in stress levels in dogs. It’s important for you as a dog owner to pay attention to your dog’s actions and reactions and address the best way to deal with your dog’s fear and stress. Providing adequate exercise, feeding a high quality wet diet (raw or home prepared) and providing a quiet, safe place for your dog to eat by himself plays a LARGE role in reducing stress levels. Keep in mind that serious disease or illness can cause the symptoms listed above, so it’s a good idea to have your holistic vet give your best friend a good check up to role out any serious disease. DON’T allow the vet to vaccinate your sick or fearful animal.
- Spinal Issues
A spinal injury might not seem like it would be associated with incontinence in dogs; but it can be. So, you ask “What does my dog’s spine have to do with her leaking urine?” According to Dr. Dobias, incontinence in dogs is caused by weakness in the urinary sphincter (like mentioned earlier). The urinary bladder sphincter gets its nerve supply from the caudal-lumbar area of the spine and when these lumbar muscles are injured, they become tight, causing the sphincter nerves to become numb which leads to uncontrolled urine leakage. Spinal issues also interfere with digestion. There are animal chiropractors that can be a big help in this area. They’re becoming more and more popular. We also offer many great natural spinal disease products for dogs that can help a great deal.
- Cushings Disease
Pet owners often suspect something is wrong because the dog is drinking a LOT of water, panting more than usual, acting very hungry, hair loss in certain spots, thin skin, frequent skin infections and a drop in activity levels. This disease can be brought on by a tumor located on the pituitary gland at the base of the brain; a tumor located on the adrenal gland or THE OVER USE OF STEROID MEDICATION. Notice we capitalized the text regarding overusing steroids. MANY pet owners are growing concerned about the overuse of steroid medications by veterinarians for both dogs and cats. If the vet suspects cushings, he/she will first check your dog’s cortisol levels to see how much cortisol is showing up in your dog’s blood. The vet might recommend for an ultrasound. If cushings disease is suspected; trying a natural herbal method like this adrenal support formula for dogs is highly recommended before using any synthetic chemical drugs. Many dogs continue to live a good life with a few necessary changes in diet and by adding nutritional help in the form of herbs. It’s important to stay in touch with your dog’s holistic vet if your dog is diagnosed with cushings. It’s also important to avoid chemical flea and tick products and vaccines. Tell your vet you want a waiver for your dog that is suffering from Cushings.
Incontinent Dog Solutions
Besides checking into the above causes, it’s a good idea to have your dog’s holistic vet rule out anything serious. Be sure to ask the vet to do a complete urinalysis to check kidney function as well as a complete blood count to test for any serious disease. A thyroid test can also be beneficial.
We always recommend trying natural remedies first. We’ve put together a page sharing many helpful tips on using natural alternatives that can help your dog’s leaky pipes. You can read more at the following link: Natural Remedies for Dog Incontinence
Article last updated June 8, 2020.