Incontinence in your elderly dog.

Dog urinary incontinence and urinary tract infections occur in 2% to 3% of all dogs and that percentage increases if you own an elderly dog.

It is usually caused by a bacterial infection that has entered the body through the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the body. If the infection is able to take hold, it colonises in the urinary tract, eventually making its way to the bladder causing a bladder infection.

Infection in the urinary tract causes inflammation which reduces the size of the urethra and makes the tube narrower, making it more difficult to urinate. Since less urine passes through the body, other problems can set in such as urinary or bladder stones. The urine contains crystals which form into stones. As these crystals attach to one another forming stones, additional blockages and urination problems can occur.

The urine itself is natures way of keeping the urinary tract infection free. If your elderly dog isn’t urinating enough, or there are other problems in the body that changed the PH balance or composition of the urine, it reduces the urine’s bacteria-killing effectiveness.

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Symptoms of dog bladder problems

Symptoms of a urinary tract infection in an elderly dog are usually related to problems with urination due to inflammation of the urinary tract. These include:

  • Difficulty Urinating
  • Pain when urinating
  • Frequent urination
  • Urine leaking
  • Urination in unacceptable places
  • Urine odour
  • Licking of the area where your dog urinates

Causes Of Dog Urinary Incontinence

There are several different reasons for why old dogs have these problems, including:

Hormonal Changes in Female Dogs

Old dog incontinence can be the result of a hormone imbalance.

Most common are low levels of estrogen in female dogs, especially those who have been spayed.

Scientists are still not sure whether or not early-spaying (between 6 weeks and 6 months old) increases the chances of this type of incontinence

Older male dogs can suffer from testosterone-related incontinence too, whether they’ve been neutered or not.

Some breeds seem to be at a higher risk of this happening, they include spaniels (of different types), Old English Sheepdogs, Doberman Pinschers and Boxers.

Spinal Or Neurological Problems

If your old dog has vertebrae, disc or spinal issues, or neurological problems, then they can cause her to lose control of her bladder.

This is because the nerve signals from her brain to her bladder are not working properly, or aren’t getting through at all.

You’re more likely to see this if your dog is long-bodied (like the Dachshund), or short-legged (like the Corgi), or a combination of both (like the Basset Hound).

However, dogs that have arthritis and other joint problems and injuries need a walkabout harness that allows your pet lead a happier, healthier and cleaner life

Disease Or Illness

There are a few different conditions that can cause your old dog to start peeing more often, or to lose control of her bladder.

The most common ones include diabetes (usually results in excessive thirst, followed by a predictably excessive amount of urination). It also includes kidney or liver disease, polyps or cancerous growths in the urinary tract, or prostate, bladder stones.

Infection

A urinary tract (UTI) or bladder infection can cause your elderly dog to lose control of her bladder because the need to pee is so strong. It usually also makes her need to pee much more often than normal and leave you looking for the right products to buy.

But incontinence which is being triggered by something else can also cause a UTI. It’s sort of a ‘the-chicken-and-the-egg’ situation.

Bladder infections are more often seen in female dogs than in males and affect all ages.

Usually causes some discomfort or even pain for your dog because of the urine burns and itches. Sometimes she’ll strain really hard, but only be able to pass only a drop or two of pee-pee.

Elderly Dog Syndrome

This is another name for ‘Canine Dysfunction Syndrome’, and it can affect senior dogs in a wide variety of different ways.

Then there are endocrine disorders such as Cushing’s Disease and Addison’s Disease.

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (basically this is the dog equivalent of human Alzheimer) can lead to old dog incontinence problems too.

That’s because dogs with CCD can ‘forget’ the house training habits they’ve known since they were puppies.

Sometimes they’ll have periods when they’re kind of ‘spacey’ and not really at the moment… and that can lead to random urination episodes.

Psychological or emotional issues like extreme stress or anxiety can also trigger old dog incontinence, although usually on a more temporary basis.

Older dogs can get stressed and anxious quite quickly, and even what might seem like a small change to you can upset your dog more than you would expect.

And last, but not least, the ageing process itself often means that muscles, nerves and organs don’t work as well as they used to.

Lack of muscle-tone or weak nerve impulses can cause a loosening of the bladder sphincter (the muscle at the ‘neck’ of the bladder, which holds it closed) and cause your dog to unintentionally dribble urine.