Dr. Barchas, my six-year-old Jack Russell (spayed) has begun to wet while sleeping, although she doesn’t dribble when excited. We can’t seem to figure out why this is happening and what we can do to help her. It really seems to upset her when she wakes to fine her hind quarters (they are also stained yellow). Any suggestions on what I can do?
Patti Montgomeryville, PA
Urinary incontinence is a common problem in middle-aged spayed female dogs. It most frequently occurs in dogs who are sleeping. Also, some dogs may dribble urine as they walk around the house. In most cases, they are unaware of the problem as it is occurring, although they may be disturbed when they discover that they have soiled themselves with urine.
The syndrome may be caused by a number of medical conditions. For instance, kidney disease, bladder infections, and diabetes can lead to urine dribbling.
However, the most common cause is a hormone imbalance that affects the bladder and the sphincters and causes slow leakage of urine.
In your dog’s case, I recommend a trip to the vet to run a panel of blood and urine tests. The tests will check for the less common, but more serious causes of the problem that were listed first. If the tests come back negative, then the most likely diagnosis is the hormone imbalance syndrome.
Fortunately, the hormone imbalance syndrome can be treated with an effective and relatively safe medication called PPA. Some dogs require daily treatment with the medicine. Others need only intermittent treatment. You will have to consult your veterinarian and experiment with the medication to determine the best course of action for your pet.