When the dog urinates it is called urination. Urine is made by the kidneys after filtering the blood. Then urine leaves the kidneys and goes to the ureters. The ureters are two small tubes that connect the kidneys and the bladder. When the bladder swells the feeling of wanting to urinate appears. When urination takes place, the sphincters close the bladder relax, the bladder contracts, and allow urine to be evacuated from the bladder to the urethra and then to the urinary meatus and outside.
When this urination mechanism is not done normally (if at all) and the urine comes out alone, without relaxation of the sphincters or contraction of the bladder, we speak of an incontinent dog.
Why Is My Dog Peeing So Much?
A dog who urinates at home is not necessarily incontinent.
The incontinent dog usually does not realize that he is urinating under him. Urine is often found in his bed and escapes when he is lying down. You can also drop urine all over the house. The incontinent dog often licks the genital area.
The differential diagnosis of incontinence in dogs is broad. We often think of dealing with an incontinent dog in the case of polyuropolydipsia for example. The dog drinks a lot of water because of his illness. Sometimes his bladder is so full that he can’t hold back for as long as he normally would, so he urinates at night in the house. The causes of polyuropolydipsia are for example:
- hormonal disorders such as diabetes, kidney failure in dogs
- certain behavioral disorders leading to potomania (behavioral disorders in dogs that drink a lot of water)
- certain infections such as pyometra (infection of the uterus).
Cystitis but also territorial urinary markings can give frequent urination in inappropriate places (in the house) which can make believe that the dog is incontinent.
What Causes Incontinence in Dogs?
Incontinent dogs usually have quite specific illnesses:
First, there are neurological conditions. They can be the consequence of trauma to the spinal cord, as during a herniated disc in dogs, or of the pelvis. Neurological conditions disrupt or paralyze the functioning of the muscles of the bladder or sphincters.
Incontinent dogs may also have a deficit of sex hormones when they have been spayed. Indeed the castration of the dog or the sterilization of the bitch can involve what one calls sphincter incompetence or incompetence of castration. Due to the lack of sex hormones in the blood, the urinary tract sphincters no longer work properly and the dog sometimes urinates without realizing it. This loss of control over urination most often affects bitches of large breeds (over 20-25kg such as Labradors).
Incontinent dogs may have a congenital malformation (born with the malformation) of the urinary tract. The most common malformation is the ectopic ureter. That is to say that the ureter is badly placed and does not end as it should at the level of the bladder. Congenital diseases are more often diagnosed in young dogs.
Older dogs can develop true incontinence (he cannot hold urine anymore) or age-related pseudo-incontinence and disorientation.
Tumors that develop in the bladder or urethra, as well as other causes of obstruction to the outflow of urine, can lead to incontinence.
Acute renal failure
In this case, the kidney experiences a sudden loss of efficiency and if it is treated quickly, this renal failure is reversible. Symptoms can quite easily go unnoticed in dogs because they are not all characteristic of this single disease or may not be very visible: lack of appetite, fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea, bad breath, pain when emitting urine, or total interruption …
The causes of acute renal failure in dogs are also numerous: dehydration, hemorrhage, infections, parasitic diseases, poisoning, stones …
Consulting your veterinarian is essential quickly. He will look for the cause of the kidney failure and treat it, while compensating for the diminished work of the kidney, for example by placing the dog on a drip. This helps rebalance the components of the blood. In many cases, the veterinarian will be able to prescribe a special diet that will provide the body with elements to facilitate and relieve the kidneys.
In this case, the kidney is gradually and permanently destroyed, and it is often too late to notice the disease.
The symptoms are most often a dog who drinks a lot and urinates a lot. He may vomit and have diarrhea. He may be anemic due to a lack of red blood cells in the blood.
Chronic renal failure occurs after a poorly treated kidney infection, after kidney cancer, because of a birth defect, or simply because of the effects of age on the tissues.
The destruction of the kidney is progressive, which makes diagnosis difficult. When symptoms become evident it is often too late, as this usually happens when around 70% of the kidney tissue has already been destroyed.
However, a dog can live for many years with part of a kidney destroyed. The veterinarian will prescribe a very studied diet which will aim to provide nutrients in calculated quantities: little protein and little phosphorus. It will also be necessary to get the dog to rehydrate.
The disease is chronic, the dog will have to undergo regular blood tests to check the adaptation of the diet and the possible progression of the degradation of the kidneys.
I have an incontinent dog, what should I do?
Consult your veterinarian. There are solutions.
Your vet will first check that your dog is incontinent. He will ask you if the incontinence is permanent or if your dog still manages to have normal urination. Then after making a clinical and possibly neurological inspection. He may do a urinalysis and a blood test for kidney failure and/or cystitis. These examinations can also direct him to hormonal diseases causing polyuropolydipsia.
If it turns out that it is incontinence and does not have a neurological cause your vet can explore the cause with ultrasound or x-ray. The causes of incontinence are treated with medication or surgery (damage to the spinal cord or ectopic ureter) to cure the dog.
Finally, if your dog has castration incontinence, your veterinarian will give her hormone supplementation medications. It is a lifelong treatment that improves symptoms or even makes them disappear.
Conveniently, while waiting for the medication to work you can use a dog diaper or panties. The same goes for older dogs or dogs with polyuria-polydipsia who urinate at night.