Home » Lifestyle

What Causes Incontinence in Dogs?

I have a 15-year-old Lab mix. She has had problems over the years with incontinence, but nothing I could put my finger on. I work...

Dr. Eric Barchas  |  Jun 12th 2008


I have a 15-year-old Lab mix.
She has had problems over the years with
incontinence, but nothing I could put my finger
on. I work 8 hour shifts, and although I let her out
before I go to work, there is almost always
‘something’ waiting for me when I get home. She was crated
many years ago, and I have restricted her movement
in the house. Any suggestions?

I thank you, and Amy thanks you,

Janis
Independence, MO

The trials and tribulations of aging are emerging as themes in this week’s posts. Incontinence is a relatively common problem in older dogs (and in older people–the success of the Depend undergarment company testifies to that).

As dogs mature, neurological control of the bladder diminishes . The sphincter muscles that control urination weaken. These factors can lead to incontinence.

As well, a variety of medical problems can cause incontinence. Bladder infections are extremely common in older dogs, and are a leading cause of house soiling. Other medical causes of incontinence include diabetes, kidney disease, hormone imbalances, growths or tumors in the urinary tract and (for intact male dogs) prostate problems.

Your best bet is to have a veterinarian evaluate Amy to make sure that a medical condition isn’t playing a role in her house soiling. The vet will want to run blood and urine tests, and may recommend diagnostic imaging (X-rays and ultrasound).

If no problems are uncovered, a medicine called PPA (short for phenylpropanolamine) may help reduce incontinence. You and your vet can decide together whether to use it.