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Urinary Incontinence in Dogs and Cats

What is urinary incontinence?

Strictly speaking, incontinence is unconscious and involuntary urination or urine leakage. It is most common in older (8 years +) desexed female dogs, but can occasionally occur at a much younger age. It is rare in male dogs, and rarer still in cats. It generally starts with nocturia (bed wetting at night, whilst asleep), but can progress to day time dribbling as well.

Why does it happen?

A vast majority of incontinence in dogs is due to hormonal deficiency. There is a natural decline in the female hormone oestrogen, with ageing, that is linked to incontinence in many species. In dogs, this process is accelerated by the desexing operation (speying), that includes removing the ovaries, the body’s main source of oestrogen. The deficiency of oestrogen causes atrophy (weakening) of the neck of the bladder, and associated urethral structures, that normally keep the bladder closed, and results in urine leakage.

Is it dangerous?

Incontinence is primarily a mess / hygiene problem for indoor pets, and their owners. Many dogs also display signs of emotional stress or “embarrassment” at soiling inside, when they have previously been able to “hold on all night”. Medically speaking, constant urine leakage can result in urine scalding of the skin around the vulva, and lead to secondary skin infection. Infection in this area, combined with a weakened bladder neck, can also increase the risk of cystitis (bladder infection).

Treatment for incontinence in dogs

Conventional treatment for incontinence involves hormone replacement therapy, using a low dose of oestrogen (Stilboestrol tablets) once or twice weekly. The doses required to control incontinence in dogs are very small though, nothing like HRT in humans. This works very well for most bitches, and has no known side effects at the required doses.

Another treatment for incontinence in pets is pseudoephedrine (Sudofed). Generally only used if oestrogen has failed, pseudoephedrine can be quite effective but the side effects are the same as the effects of Sudofed in people, including increased heart rate, agitation and restlessness.

Natural alternatives include oestrogenic herbs, like red clover and chaste tree, or you can get good results with acupuncture and chiropractic manipulation.

We endeavour to deliver the best information possible on natural health and diets for dogs and cats. Our articles involve contributions from senior veterinarians and are researched thoroughly. They remain the opinion of Vets All Natural however and we would always recommend seeking professional advice specific to your pet from a veterinarian. © Copyright 2015 Vets All Natural. All Rights Reserved