« Back to Puppies

40–43 Weeks: What to Expect From Your Puppy

How to Handle Canine Incontinence :: A Guide to Treating Recurrent Ear Infections :: How to Trick Your Puppy Into Becoming a Straight-A Student :: A Guide to Advanced Socialization

How to Handle Canine Incontinence

If you've noticed a small pool of liquid where your puppy was sitting or lying down, you may be dealing with canine urinary incontinence. Incontinence isn't found just in senior dogs - it can show up as early as eight months and it happens to both males and females. Incontinence basically means your puppy cannot control his urination. It is entirely different from marking or spraying which is a voluntary act meant to spread his or her scent around. It is also different from submissive urination which is a behavioral problem. Incontinence is involuntary and the dog usually is unaware of it.

It make take a little while for it to be clear that your puppy is incontinent, especially because it's not a problem that most dog owners associate with puppies. Besides the more obvious sign of urine left behind, you make see some subtle symptoms such as dribbles of liquid near your puppy, weakness or nervousness. Since incontinence is involuntary, correction is the wrong tactic. Luckily there are several things you can do to remedy the problem without it.

Why Urinary Incontinence Occurs

  1. Spaying and Neutering - Neutering and spaying can cause incontinence in a dog, sometimes months after the procedure.

  2. Birth Defect - Some breeds are more prone to incontinence from a defect. These include the Lab, Miniature Poodle and Welsh Corgi.

  3. Indoor Living - Because dogs spend so much time indoors, the risk of incontinence increases.

  4. Hormone-Responsive Incontinence - This occurs when a dog's hormones are not functioning correctly.

  5. Vulvovaginal Stenosis - This occurs in females and is a condition where the vagina is narrowed where it meets the urethra.

Managing Canine Urinary Incontinence

The first step is to take your puppy to the vet for a checkup. Be sure to bring up everything you've noticed about the problem, how often it occurs, when it occurs, how much urine is being expelled, the surgeries your puppy has had and when it started. Your vet will determine the best treatment but the most common tactic is to prescribe a medication such as Imipramine. Some feel this is a lifelong treatment but consider testing this theory every six months or so. Wean your pup off the medication and see if the incontinence returns. It may, in which case you start the med up again, or it might not. Sometimes the condition resolves itself.

At home, you can find creative ways to help you manage the incontinence. Place puppy housetraining pads wherever your puppy usually sits or lies down. Keep cleaning products on hand in the areas where it is most likely to occur. As a last resort, consider putting doggie diapers on your pooch.

Female dogs are more likely to be incontinent than males with an estimated 20% of them having the condition. Though spaying or neutering may be the culprit, this is not considered a reason not to have the procedures since incontinence is treatable. The other health and behavioral benefits of fixing your puppy outweigh the risk of incontinence.

Dogs are not self-conscious like we are so it's likely your puppy will not be affected emotionally by the incontinence. Some dogs, however, can connect the fact that there's urine near them to having an accident and they may appear ashamed of the act. This is another reason to be patient. Remind yourself that this is not anything calculated or dangerous. Wash the bedding or spray the couch and go on as usual.

Advice from Other Dog Owners 

How to Keep Your Puppy Off the Christmas Tree

Puppies should be supervised at all times. She or he should be crated while alone, leashed while you are around. Time to teach the "leave it" command. You will really mean it when you fear for the dogs safety! Baby gates might deter him - unless he's that curious kind that looks to defeat all confinement. If he's leashed it's easy to give a sharp leash correction if he goes near the tree. Put the tree up for a few days without trimming to get the dog used to it without risking fragile ornaments.

~Liz C., owner of German Shepherd mix


When Puppies Lose Their Teeth

Puppies have a full set of 28 milk teeth - 4 canines, 12 incisors and 12 molars. The incisors and canines grow in first, the molars last. At around three to four months of age, your dog is going to start losing milk teeth and growing in her adult set of teeth, which consists of a total of 42 teeth - a lot more than the puppy teeth she has. The first to fall out are going to be her incisors, her front teeth. She will start growing her adult incisors first. Around four to five months of age you will see her adult molars and canines to grow in. By about six months, she should have her full set of adult teeth.

~Chris & Brian C., owner of German Shepherd

Add Your Own Advice 


Comment headline
Your comment
Submitted by
Owner of