Urinary Incontinence in Senior Dogs


Loss of house training in senior dogs occurs in 20% of our dog population.  Incontinence comes in different forms.  Some owners will find their dog “leaks” urine on their bed or on the floor when they are resting.  Some owners will notice the dog just can’t hold their bladder for an 8 hour day like they used to.  Some owners find their dog is asking to go out more frequently and will have an accident if they are not let outside several times daily.

Urinating in the house can often be due to a medical problem.  If we can diagnose the problem there is a good chance we can help fix it.  An exam and a urinalysis are usually needed to figure out the cause of the incontinence.  Getting your dog to the vet and obtaining a fresh urine sample may seem like a lot of work but if we can help stop the floor washing, the laundry and the carpet cleaning you will likely be ahead of the game.

There are many causes of incontinence.  One common cause is in spayed females dogs who leak small amounts of urine on to the bed or floor when they are lying down or sleeping.  They do not realize this is happening.  As they age they lose hormones that help keep the urinary sphincter tight.  This seems to happen in humans too if I judge by the number of leaky bladder commercials I see on TV!  This is a fairly easy problem to diagnose with an exam and urinalysis and is treatable with medication.  Some medications need to be given daily and some can be given once or twice weekly.

Other medical problems that can lead to accidents include kidney disease, diabetes, thyroid disease and liver disease.  Side effects of medication may also cause an increase in thirst and therefore urine production.  Again a physical exam, good history and first morning urine sample can point us in the right direction of a diagnosis.

Cognitive changes can lead to loss of house training.  This happens to some pets when they are quite elderly.  They seem to forget they need to go outside to urinate.  This problem is a bit more challenging to treat but there are options available.

If you have a concern about your Senior Dog and loss of house training please contact your veterinarian for help.  Be prepared to bring in a fresh urine sample collected first thing in the morning (your vet can provide you with an easy to use sample container).

By: Dr. Morag Maskery DVM