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Is Your Dog Leaking Urine?

Updated on October 22, 2013

When a dog leaks urine, it is suffering from canine urinary incontinence (CUI). There are several reasons why a dog may be incontinent and these could involve a bladder abnormality, problems with the urethra, or a problem with the nerves and brain function that control the bladder. There must be a distinction between incontinence and frequent urination. Incontinence is when the dog has absolutely no control of the urinary function. One may also think that this is submissive urination, where a dog will urinate to show submission to another dog or person. This kind of urination is exhibited by younger dogs, and will involve rolling on the back and then urinating.

What are the causes of urinary incontinence in dogs?

CUI can also be caused by a defect at birth. Dogs suffer from ectopic ureters, where the ureter bypasses the bladder and joins directly to the vagina or urethra. This is quite common in Siberian Huskies. The ectopic ureters are also common among female dogs. If one ureter is ectopic, then the dog will dribble and will also be able to hold some urine in the bladder. However, if both of them are ectopic, then the dog will have no control of the urinary functions. Ectopic ureters also lead to an infection of the bladder, but this goes away when the dog is given antibiotics. These ureters can be surgically reattached to the bladder and the incontinence will stop. Even after surgery, other defects in the urinary tract may cause the dog to continue being incontinent. The kidney can also get affected by ectopic ureters since they get material from the vagina. This may lead to the removal of one of the kidneys.

CUI can also be caused by an infection of the bladder. Such an infection makes the dog need to urinate frequently. This is not termed as incontinence since the dog can control the urine and it knows what it is doing. The first thing that the vet looks for in such dogs is a bladder infection.

If your dog is dribbling, you should feel the bladder and see if it is distended. Sometimes, the dog may have a blocked urethra, and this interrupts the flow of urine to the outside. This will cause the bladder to become very distended and the pressure will make some of the urine to go round the blockage. Such blockage is very dangerous since the dog can die if urine does not leave the bladder properly.

Another reason why the dog may be incontinent is due to old age. The sphincter that holds the urine in the bladder may become weak, and any small pressure will cause the dog to urinate. As the dog ages, he will produce more urine than normal (polyuria). The dog may also be senile and will not even notice that it is urinating.

Vulvovaginal stenosis is another condition that can cause a dog to leak. This happens when the vagina is narrowed where the urethra joins it. When the dog urinates, some of the urine is held back at the tightened part. After a while, when the dog gets up to move, some of this urine will dribble out. This problem can be reversed though stretching of the vagina.

What is the diagnosis of urinary incontinence in dogs?

Depending on the age of the pet, a series of tests can be done to evaluate the cause of the incontinence. The urine is taken to the lab and tested for infections which could be causing the incontinence. This is usually the first test that the vet will ask for. The vet will ask you questions to determine

  • When the incontinence began
  • Can the dog control the urine
  • Is there a history of surgery or neutering
  • How much water do you give the dog
  • Is the dog comfortable when it is urinating
  • Does it have weakness or seizures, indicating a nervous problems

The vet will also test the kidneys to see if the kidneys of the dog have been affected. The doctor will also take dye and plain x-rays in order to see the urinary tract of the dog.

What is the treatment for urinary incontinence in dogs?

The underlying factor that causes the dribbling must be attended to. If there are ectopic ureters, then they can be re-attached using surgery. If there were any infections that were causing the dribbling, then the dog has to be out on antibiotics. If the dog is just being unruly, it can be trained to stop urinating. For weak muscles, certain drugs can be given to increase the strength of the sphincter holding the end of the bladder. The drugs are given on a trial basis to see which one works best since each dog will have a different reaction to the drugs.


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