Senior Dog Care: What To Do About Old Dog Bladder Control Issues
If your dog is getting along in years, they’ll be considered a senior soon if they aren’t already. And with older age comes a few health and behavioral changes. While not every dog has the same experience as they age, there are a few things that most older dogs can expect. Urinary and bladder control issues is one of them.
Urinary incontinence is the inability to control the bladder, resulting in involuntary urine leakage. This can be frustrating for you as a dog owner, since your precious pet was most likely house-trained before.
Some people will use the term “incontinence” to refer to both involuntary urination and bowel movements but for the purposes of this article, incontinence refers to urinary only.
It’s crucial to understand what an old dog bladder control issue is, what causes it, and how you can manage it as your dog ages. That way, you and your beloved canine companion can live in harmony as time goes on, even with something like bladder and UT issues making things a little more complicated.
Senior Dog Incontinence The Essential Facts
Though senior dogs of both sexes can suffer from incontinence, the issue is far more common in female dogs. This is because, as female dogs age, their control of the neck of their bladder can deteriorate. Urine can all too easily leak out when the exit of the bladder is not fully closed.
This condition is known as sphincter mechanism incontinence, and its thought to be the cause of around 80% of incontinence cases. y get a little senile, its also possible for elderly dogs to forget their house training. This might result in their leaving a wet patch where they lie. Again, this is completely involuntary, and punishing your dog for such wet patches will not help anyone.
Other causes of incontinence include fluctuating hormone levels, spinal and neurological problems, infections, illnesses, and extreme stress and anxiety.
Diseases And Disorders Causing Urine Dilution
Conditions that suddenly cause an increase in urine production and overwhelm the urinary system, therefore, resulting in urinary incontinence. Common conditions that can cause urine dilution are diabetes, Cushing’s disease and kidney disease in dogs.
Some medications can cause excessive urine dilution and therefore urinary incontinence. The most common medication that results in urinary incontinence is prednisone. Prednisone is a common medication that has anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive actions and is widely used.
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Management Of Fecal Incontinence
The primary concern expressed by owners of dogs with fecal incontinence is management of the mess produced by inadvertent defecation, with secondary concerns of skin damage due to contamination with fecal material and contamination of the vulva causing urinary tract infections. Careful questioning of the owner is needed to determine when the incontinence is occurring and the nature and volume of the stool. The most practical and effective management technique is to use a low residue diet that reduces stool volume sometimes dramatically, and usually resolves loose stool or diarrhea. All dietary indiscretions should be avoided because the consequences can be challenging.
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 may also find wet hair around the lower abdominal area or beneath your dogs tail, and may discover inflammation of the skin around your dogs genitals.
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Incontinence Not Caused By Hormones
There are also a number of disorders that are considered to be forms of incontinence that are not related to estrogen levels.
1. Neurologic disorders affecting the nerve supply to the bladder can lead to incontinence. There are several classes of these disorders. In general, the bladder is large and distended due to the loss of nerve function. This is a hint that there may be neurologic causes. Many veterinarians may not feel confident in their ability to diagnose neurogenic bladder disorders. If these are suspected, it may be necessary for a neurologist to help in the diagnostic process.
2. Large bladders can also be a sign of an obstruction to urine flow downstream of the bladder, such as a urolith in the urethra, especially in a male dog. Any bladder stone can cause or make it seem like cystitis or incontinence is present, both by mechanically obstructing the urinary tract, and by irritating it to create a better environment for bacterial infection.
3. Some dogs are born with their ureters, the tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder, misplaced. When this happens it may lead to continuous urine leakage, especially if the ureters miss the bladder entirely and implant directly into the urethra.
5. Rarely, urinary incontinence can occur in younger animals due to congenital anatomic abnormalities.
Incontinence In Female Dogs
The urethral sphincter mechanism incompetence is one of the most common causes of incontinence. Dogs with this condition lack strength in the muscles that regulate urine output from the bladder. The most commonly affected dogs are female, spayed, and of a middle or older age.
Hormone imbalances can occur after a female dog is spayed. This is because the urinary tract tissue’s proper functioning depends on adequate estrogen exposure, and a pet’s estrogen levels are low after her ovaries have been removed. This can lead to a weaker urethral sphincter, the muscle that controls the flow of urine out of the urethra.
Treatment with reproductive hormones is often effective in treating the condition, which is commonly hormone-responsive. Supplementing the female dog’s hormones may help treat USMI.
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How Is Urinary Incontinence In Dogs Treated
Urinary incontinence in dogs can often be successfully treated or managed with surgery and medications.
Specific treatment of an underlying disease or condition with surgery or medications may resolve incontinence. When no specific cause can be identified for the incontinence, drugs may be given that increase the tone of the muscles that hold urine in the bladder. Drug therapy for incontinence may be based on a trial of different drugs in various doses until an effective combination is identified.
Treatment Of Lack Of Bowel Control In Dogs
If the lack of bowel control is being caused by a simple infection, antibiotics may quickly resolve the problem. A parasitic infection, such as giardia or intestinal worms can be eradicated with the appropriate medication. There are drugs that can strengthen the sphincter muscles if necessary.
In the case of a senior dog, the incontinence may be less treatable, in which case diapers or frequent trips outside may be of help.
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Fda Approves New Once
The US Food and Drug Administration last week approved Proin ER , a tablet for the control of urinary incontinence in dogs.
The drug will aid with urethral sphincter hypotonus, which occurs due to a dogs age and weakening muscles in the urethra.
The FDA had already approved Proin Chewable Tablets in 2011 , which had to be administered two to three times a day.
Prion ER, however, is administered only once a day .
Is this a game changer for veterinarians and clients dealing with a pet suffering from urinary incontinence?
NEWStat asked Julie Byron, DVM, DACVIM, professor of small animal internal medicine in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Services at The Ohio State University and an expert in urinary tract disorders, what she thought.
The game-changing aspect is that it makes a once-a-day drug Incurin, Byron said. So, for clients who cant deliver medications twice a day, It brings it more into alignment with the convenience factor that they need.
For the study, the FDA recruited 119 client-owned dogs who had been previously diagnosed with urethral sphincter hypotonus. All had been taking Proin Chewable Tablets before the study and their response to the medication recorded.
Proin ERs most common side effects were vomiting, weight loss, hypertension, and diarrhea.
Although sometimes, she says, you might want to use both.
Incontinence Medication And Treatment Options
Treating urinary incontinence requires medications that strengthen the muscles and nerves that control urination, such as phenylpropanolamine. For spayed females, adding some hormones back may be the key. Obviously if there is an infection, antibiotics will be needed.
For dogs with damage to the urinary tract or a birth defect, surgery may be the ideal option. These are complicated surgeries, so your veterinarian may refer you to a specialist.
Many times, treatment may not totally stop the urinary leakage, but will reduce it greatly. Other dogs respond totally to medication. Be prepared to take some management steps to help your dog.
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Managing Your Senior Dog’s Incontinence
Before I had senior dogs the thought of dealing with incontinence never crossed my mind, but when my first dogs started to face challenges in their golden years it quickly became front and center in my life. Sadly, incontinence is one of the main reasons people put their dogs down. And while sometimes the cause of the incontinence can be something more serious, more often than not it is just a leaky bladder and in the case of fecal incontinence, many times it is related to a spinal issue and not life threatening. It’s like we forget that humans go through this very same thing as we get older. In fact a multi-billion dollar market has been created around products to support incontinence in humans, yet we give up on our dogs when they have these very same issues? I will never understand a decision to euthanize a dog for something so manageable.
Our dogs go most of their lives being trained to go outside for potty breaks. They know this pleases us and when they start to lose control and have accidents often times they are more upset than we are about the mess. A simple thing like a dog diaper or a dog belly band can do wonders, not only for your carpets and your peace of mind, but also for your dog’s emotional state.
Ann-Marie Fleming is the Founder & CEO of Dog Quality, a provider of products focused on improving the quality of life for older dogs.
Management Of Urinary Retention And Incontinence In The Acute Phase And Early Weeks After Spinal Cord Injury
Diligent management of retention and overflow incontinence in the acute phase of spinal cord injury is paramount. It involves preventing bladder over-distention and ensuring bladder emptying but also managing the dog as a whole and implementing hygiene measures that will prevent complications. The spinal patient might be especially susceptible to developing complications such as decubital ulcers and urinary tract infection because of the combination of neurogenic incontinence , recumbency and reduced immunity after spinal cord injury potentially sustained by poor nutrition. Although these factors have not been clearly studied and established as risks in dogs after spinal cord injury, they are in people and for the time being, it appears logical to consider these as such. Guidelines for the management of urinary retention and incontinence in the acute phase are proposed in Table 1.
Table 1. Acute phase of spinal cord injuryin hospital management .
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Management Of Urinary Incontinence In Dogs
Medical treatment is the best way to support the health effects of urinary incontinence. You can also take steps to manage the effects of your dogâs incontinence on your home, such as:
- Using doggie diapers
- Walking the dog more frequently
- Using waterproof pads under their bedding
- Maintaining proper hygiene to prevent skin infection
Urinary incontinence can quickly develop into an infection. Keep an eye on your dog’s condition and consult your vet for treatment plans.
How Can I Manage Urinary Incontinence
- Use waterproof pads under the bedding to absorb any moisture. Layer clean blankets and towels in your dogs favorite sleeping spots.
- Maintain clean bedding, change daily or as needed.
- Consider using doggie diapers or belly bands , which are available at many pet stores or online.
- Take your dog for more frequent walks, including first thing in the morning and shortly after they wake from a nap.
- Encourage your dog to empty their bladder right before bedtime,which can help control or even prevent nighttime accidents.
- Please consult with your vet before limiting your dogs water intake.
- Provide proper hygiene to prevent any related skin infections. It’s essential that the dog is kept impeccably clean, as skin irritations and “urine scalding” can develop, causing extreme discomfort and infection.
- Always monitor your dog’s condition, since it can quickly accelerate to infection, especially in elderly dogs.
Your veterinarian at Animal Hospital of North Asheville can help with incontinence diagnosis and treatment so you and your dog dont have to live with wet spots in the bed or around the house.
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Reasons For Loss Of Bladder Control In Dogs
A number of factors can lead to loss of bladder control in dogs, including the aging process. Urinary incontinence is a common problem in older canines. Despite that, dogs of all different age groups can suffer from bladder control problems. When dogs have urinary incontinence, they urinate without conscious control.
The Study Of Urinary Incontinence With The Canine Translational Model Of Spinal Cord Injury
Figure 2. Schematic demonstrating placement and function of a canine sacral nerve stimulator for bladder emptying in chronically paraplegic dogs in dogs with T3-L3 spinal cord lesions, the sacral nerves below the lesion remain intact and can be accessed via lumbo-sacral laminectomy a book electrode containing two gutters can receive a pair of sacral nerves when the implant is slotted underneath the dural cone and cauda equina the implant is connected via a cable to a sub-cutaneous transducer that can be palpated by the clinician and the owner the transducer is activated with a remote system brought close to the skin and the transducer this generates an electrical current that flows to the implant, stimulate the sacral nerves, and leads to efficient bladder emptying.
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Incontinence In The Dog
If your dog is suddenly leaking urine or urinating in the house after being housetrained, its time for a vet visit.
While urinary incontinence is rather common in dogs, there can be different causes for it, so its important to get a thorough diagnosis.
First off, its crucial to differentiate actual urinary incontinence leaking of urine, often while the dog is lying down or experiencing exciting situations, such as greeting the owner at the door from so-called polyuria, which means increased urine production but with normal bladder control. Polyuria usually goes hand in hand with polydipsia increased water intake and also warrants a check-up at the vets.
Why Is My Pet Peeing In His Sleep Q& a: Urinary Incontinence
Urinary incontinence means your pet cannot control his or her urination or urinates without realizing it, usually when sleeping or resting. Urinary incontinence is most common in middle-age spayed female dogs.
Urinary incontinence is different from inappropriate elimination, which is deliberate urination around the house or outside the litter boxalthough both may be driven by underlying medical problems. We tackle the issue of peeing on the carpet in a separate blog.
Why does urinary incontinence occur mostly during sleep or rest?Your pets muscles are totally relaxed, including the muscles in the urethra that normally keep urine inside the urinary bladder.
Why is urinary incontinence most common in middle-age spayed female dogs?The hormones estrogen and progesterone strengthen the muscles that keep urine inside the urinary bladder. When a female is spayed, she has less estrogen and progesterone. The male hormone testosterone also helps strengthen the muscles that exit the urinary bladder. While urinary incontinence is rare in male dogs, it is most common in neutered males.
We can treat urinary incontinence by replacing lost hormones with medication: Proin, which is phenylpropanolamine and Incurin, which is canine estradiol .
Urinary issues can be complex, and we understand they are frustratingwe can help! Call us at 544-2226.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Dog Incontinence
The primary symptom of dog incontinence is urinating inside the house, even when a dog is fully housetrained. Dogs with incontinence usually leak urine when they are lying down, so their sleeping quarters will most likely be contaminated.
Other symptoms of incontinence in dogs include irritated skin, damp legs, urinary dribbling, unpleasant odour, and excessive licking of the nether regions. If you suspect your dog is suffering from dog incontinence, its important to get them checked out at a veterinarian to identify the cause.
Treatment Of Urine Dripping
If left to continue unabated, urinary incontinence can cause damage e.g. to hardwood floors, and cause unpleasant urine smell around your house, not to mention cause your canine companion discomfort. For example, when a tract infection is involved, it can cause your dog to strain or even cry when urinating as well as back pain, vomiting, lethargy and loss of appetite.
The underlying reason for your dog leaking urine will determine the appropriate treatment. Some treatment options are listed below:
- Antibiotics: Bladder infections may necessitate treatment with antibiotics.
- Phenylpropanolamine : This is a non-hormonal medication that although banned the FDA for human use, is still used to treat urine leakage in dogs. Phenylpropanolamine is also known as Proin.
- Hormone-substitutes: Incontinence caused by hormone-deficiency is often treated with diethylstilbestrol, an estrogen-substitute. It is often necessary to put affected dogs on PPA or diethylstilbestrol for the rest of their life.
- Surgery: Cases of urinary incontinence that dont resolve with the use of the above medications may require surgical interventions such as colposuspension and cystourethropexy .
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