Urinary incontinence is a condition seen in dogs but
not reported in cats or other species besides humans.
Usually, it occurs in females, and most often in the
spayed female dog. Women are commonly affected
by loss of urine control in their post-menopausal years.
Male dogs are prone to this as well, but less commonly
so than their female counterpart.
This condition is characterized by the dog loosing
control over the ability to hold urine. Typically,
a 'wet spot' is noted where the dog was sleeping, or
the dog itself will be wet in the hind quarters after
sleep or laying down.
When the dog relaxes, so does the sphincter muscle
of the bladder, which controls urination itself.
This is the same muscle in humans used to stop urination
mid-stream. When this muscle relaxes too much,
urine is then allowed to leak out of the bladder.
Some affected dogs can dribble urine while awake and
The reason behind the incontinence in the
spayed or neutered dog, is due to the lack of estrogen
hormone (female) or testosterone hormone (male).
In the female dog, estrogen hormone is responsible for
providing tone to the bladder sphincter muscle.
When spayed, this hormone is no longer being produced
in the amount it was prior to the removal of the ovaries
(where the estrogen hormone is produced).
Small amounts of estrogen hormone is produced by the
adrenal glands (small glands that are located right
next to the kidneys). Most of the time, this is
enough estrogen to provide bladder sphincter tone.
However, in some cases it is not. These dogs then
require medications to support bladder sphincter tone.
Male dogs can develop urinary incontinence following
neutering, as the testicles are removed, thus removing
the source of testosterone in the system. Small
amounts of testosterone continue to be produced by the
male dog's adrenal glands however, and the amount of
testosterone produced is usually enough to maintain
bladder sphincter tone. As with the female dog,
if bladder sphincter tone is not maintained, medication
The medication available to assist in urinary incontinent
dogs, includes hormonal replacement of either estrogen
or testosterone, or the use of direct bladder sphincter
If estrogens are utilized for female dog incontinence,
they are typically given once daily over a 5-7 day period,
then tapered down to three times a week. Lately,
this drug has been discontinued for the veterinary market
in its original form known as Diethylstilbestrol or
DES for short. Some formulating pharmacies however,
can still make DES available for the veterinarian.
Another drug, which provides direct stimulation of the
bladder sphincter muscle, is known as Phenylpropanolamine
or PPA for short.
This drug has recently undergone a class reschedule
change to a controlled substance, which has made the
cost of medication increase. It is still quite
affordable however, and recommended when DES is not
available, or in cases where DES is not effective.
In male neutered dogs, testosterone replacement can
be done, but this is an expensive ordeal, and not readily
available. Most cases will respond to PPA, so
this is then the recommended treatment protocol for
the incontinent male dog.