What is Lack of Bladder Control?
Urinary incontinence is typically perceived as urinary leakage when your dog is relaxed or sleeping and discovered as puddles of urine where your dog has been laying. Lack of bladder control is distinct from behavioral urination such as marking, submissive urination, or housetraining accidents, as your dog will be unaware that he is urinating.
Any dog may lose bladder control; however, urinary incontinence is most common in middle-aged and older female dogs of medium to large breed size. Urinary incontinence affects twenty percent or more of all spayed female dogs.Urethral or urinary incontinence in dogs is the loss of control of the urinary function. It may be caused by an obstruction in the bladder or impairment to the bladder itself.
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Symptoms of Lack of Bladder Control in Dogs
Symptoms include urine leaking from your dog without her control or awareness. The most common occurrence will be finding a wet spot underneath your relaxed or sleeping dog. You may also notice urine dribbling from your dog after voluntary urination or on walks. You will also find wet hair around the lower abdominal area or beneath your dog’s tail, and may discover inflammation of the skin around your dog’s genitals.
Causes of Lack of Bladder Control in Dogs
Urethral disorders are the most common cause of loss of bladder control for dogs. The muscles that involuntarily close the urethra are weakened and unable to contract properly, leading to urine leakage. This occurs as a result of urinary tract infection, inflammation, hormone responsive urinary incontinence, a prostatic disease for male dogs and a vestibulovaginal anomaly in female dogs. Hormone-responsive urinary incontinence occurs in neutered and spayed female dogs and is seen most commonly in spayed females.
Other causes include:
- Aging is another common cause for the weakening of the urethra leading to loss of bladder control. A senior dog may also lose bladder control due to senility.
- Neurological causes include spinal injuries, brain diseases, brain lesions and disruptions of the nerves around the bladder.
- Urine Retention is a result of stress, fear or other psychological issue preventing a dog from urinating. This leads to loss of bladder control because urine builds up, and the dog is unable to control the pressure.
- Anatomical causes include abnormalities from congenital defects, injuries, or surgeries that cause damage to the bladder and its function. Examples of these are ectopic ureters, urethral hypoplasia, and peri vulvar or vulvar abnormalities. Ectopic ureter most often occurs in Siberian Husky breeds and is also seen more often than usual in Miniature Poodle, Labrador Retriever, Collie, Welsh Corgi, Wire-haired Fox Terrier and West Highland White Terrier breeds.
- Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) compress the bladder, leading to loss of bladder control.
- Bladder Tumors compress the bladder, leading to loss of bladder control.
- Obesity can put excess pressure on the bladder, leading to loss of bladder control.
- Bladder Storage Dysfunction, most commonly bladder hypercontractility, a condition that causes hyperactivity in bladder contractions.
Diagnosis of Lack of Bladder Control in Dogs
The diagnosis will start with an evaluation of your dog’s age, overall health, and most importantly if your dog has been spayed or neutered. You need to let the veterinarian know when and how the symptoms presented themselves, your dog’s water intake, how often your dog urinates intentionally, and any other symptoms. This will help give the veterinarian a lead on possible causes.
Next, a urine sample will be analyzed for bacterial culture, presence of infection, and concentration. A chemical blood test will be performed in order to determine find any kidney or another disease. If the urinary tract needs to be examined, the veterinarian may conduct an x-ray and/or ultrasound, which may or may not require consuming dye to show the route of urine through your dog’s urinary tract.
Treatment of Lack of Bladder Control in Dogs
Incontinence Drugs such as ephedrine and phenylpropanolamine to treat urethral disorders by strengthening urethral sphincter, and/or hormone replacement medications such as estrogen or diethylstilbestrol will be prescribed. To determine the best fit for your dog, these will be prescribed in trials. Once a drug has proven effective for your dog, it will need to be taken on a regular basis indefinitely in order to control the incontinence. This is the most common treatment method, and 70% of dogs respond well to a combination of these medications.
Surgery will be the only option in order to treat an ectopic ureter or other anatomical abnormalities. A bladder tumor may be removed through surgery, but will first need to be biopsied in order to determine if it is cancerous.
Antibiotics will be prescribed to treat urinary tract infections.
Diet and weight management will be utilized in order to manage obesity.
Corticosteroids or other medications to control symptoms will be considered to treat neurological causes of urinary incontinence.
Training will be used to address the stress or fear causing urine retention.
Recovery of Lack of Bladder Control in Dogs
Prognosis for your dog varies based on the cause, but typically the prognosis is very good. If your dog has been prescribed medication, you will need to monitor him for side effects and return to the veterinarian in order to test blood and urine for overall health. Lifestyle changes may be required to help manage the condition, such as letting your dog outside to urinate more frequently, and/or only allowing your dog to lay down and fall asleep on hard surfaces that can be easily cleaned.