Signs of Urinary Incontinence
Are you beginning to find puddles of pee in the house? Or have you discovered wet spots where your dog was lying or sitting? If the answer is “yes” to any of them, your dog may be experiencing a condition known as urinary incontinence.
The fact is this condition can frequently be easily managed.
Many people assume that the “leaky dog” syndrome is due to their dogs ageing and that there are no treatment options available to them. They don’t seek help for their pet, or worse, they have it euthanised. The reality is this condition can often be easily managed.
What is Urinary Incontinence?
Urinary incontinence is the loss of your dog’s ability to control urination. The most common reason for this condition in dogs is acquiring it as they mature. This condition goes by several names. Technical names are “urethral sphincter hypotenuse”, “primary sphincter mechanism incompetence (PSMI)”, “idiopathic incontinence,” and “hormone-responsive incontinence”.
The less technical name is “weak bladder”.
Regardless of what it is called, the sphincter muscle in the urethra (the tube that leads from the bladder to the outside) has become feeble and is less capable of holding the urine. This condition primarily affects middle-aged to elderly, spayed female dogs.
Roughly 1 out of 5 female dogs will be affected by this condition once they are spayed (removal of the ovaries +/- uterus¹). It may also affect younger, spayed females, intact females and intact or neutered men, but to a much lesser extent.
Does this mean you shouldn’t have your pet spayed? NO! Mainly because there are loads of health benefits associated with your dog being spayed.
How it Happens
Dogs that have a weak bladder can hold their urine while awake but often “leak” when they’re relaxed or asleep. Owners will often find puddles of urine around the home; normally in the area their dog was lying or sitting. The spots can vary in size.
Dogs often start with sometimes leaking small amounts of urine. These episodes slowly increase in frequency and amounts as time goes by. During the summertime, the irritated areas of skin may become infested. These urine strips are ideal for testing prior to things getting out of hand.
Other Reasons For Urinary Incontinence
If your pet is leaking urine, it’s extremely important to schedule a visit with your veterinarian so as to rule out other causes of incontinence. You can not just assume it’s a weak bladder.
Other conditions that can result in urinary incontinence are urinary tract infection, bladder stones, injuries or degenerative diseases of the spine, prostate problems, birth defects, diseases which cause excessive drinking like diabetes, senility, rectal bleeding as well as the lack of home training.
The majority of these conditions call for a different type of treatment compared to that for urethral sphincter hypotenuse. Your vet may also order additional tests if needed to help provide a proper diagnosis.
Treatment Choices For Urinary Incontinence
So now you have taken your dog to your vet and have received the diagnosis of urethral sphincter hypotenuse. What could be done about it? There are options for coping with or treating this issue. They include:
- Prescription drugs that affect the sphincter muscle and help to tone it.
- Surgery to correct an ectopic ureter (when the tubes that propel urine from the kidneys to the urinary bladder end in the wrong spot within the body)
- Collagen injections into the urethra or a non-intrusive urinary paste
Of these choices, drugs would be the first selection for treatment by most dog owners, with injections and surgery reserved for those dogs who haven’t responded well to their drugs.
Just like any long-term medication, laboratory work should be carried out before starting any medication protocol. Blood pressure, blood work and urine samples must be monitored periodically to make sure that your pet can continue to take the medication. The most frequent side effects are nausea, increase in blood pressure, decrease in appetite, weight loss, protein in the urine and behavioural alterations.
You don’t need a Plumber
Urinary incontinence due to urethral sphincter hypotenuse is a frequent illness with affordable and effective options for therapy. It isn’t hopeless. Speak with your veterinarian about your dog’s condition and the best treatment option that is appropriate for your pet.