As in humans, incontinence in dogs is an involuntary emission of urine by the animal. The dog therefore starts losing some urine without being in their usual position for doing their business. Sterilized dogs in particular are most often affected by urinary incontinence. Here’s what to do to solve your dog’s urinary incontinence problem.
Understanding the Causes of the Dog’s Urinary Incontinence
Urine is produced by the kidneys after filtering the blood. It then leaves the kidneys and enters the bladder via the ureters, which are like small tubes that connect the kidneys and the bladder. When the bladder swells, the feeling of having to urinate occurs. When the dog urinates, we’re talking about urination. Urination takes place when the sphincters that close the bladder relax and the bladder contracts, allowing for the removal of urine via the urethra towards the outside of the dog’s body. When this urination mechanism doesn’t work properly, urine can come out on its own. In an incontinent dog, this mechanism works without the relaxation of the sphincters or the contraction of the bladder.
If this mechanism doesn’t work, the incontinent dog is usually suffering from fairly specific conditions that should be diagnosed as soon as possible:
- The incontinent dog may be suffering from a congenital malformation of the urinary tract, such as an ectopic ureter. The ectopic ureter may be improperly placed and therefore not reach the bladder. However, congenital diseases are often diagnosed in young puppies.
- Neurological conditions can disrupt or paralyze the functioning of the muscles of the bladder or the sphincters. These may themselves be the result of a spinal cord or pelvic trauma, such as a herniated disc in the dog.
- The incontinent dog may also be experiencing a sex hormone deficiency due to their sterilization. The spaying or neutering of the dog can lead to what’s called sphincter mechanism or castration incompetence. Incontinence most often affects large dog breeds of over 20 kilograms, such as Labradors. Due to the lack of sex hormones in the blood, the sphincters in the urinary tract no longer work properly, and the dog sometimes urinates without realizing it.
- For their part, older dogs may develop incontinence simply related to their age and disorientation. In older dogs, tumours that develop in the bladder or the urethra, as well as other causes of obstruction to the release of urine, can ultimately lead to incontinence.
Solving Dog Incontinence Problems
If you notice incontinence in your dog, it’s necessary to consult a veterinarian quickly to determine the cause of their urinary incontinence. Examinations are required to make a diagnosis. The veterinarian will begin by performing a urine test on your dog. Other examinations can then be performed according to the professional’s diagnosis, such as an ultrasound, a scan, or an intravenous pyelogram.
Treating Urinary Incontinence in Dogs
The treatment for urinary incontinence in dogs varies according to the cause and can be either medical or surgical. For urinary incontinence in a dog after sterilization (sphincter mechanism incompetence), a medical treatment is generally sufficient. Medications can help restore tone to the urethral sphincter. If the medical treatment doesn’t work or its effects fade, a surgical operation may be required. A surgical treatment is required for an ectopic ureter, because no medical treatment exists for this condition.