Bladder Leakage in Dogs

Bladder leakage in dogs is usually the result of urinary incontinence. A healthy dog has complete and voluntary control over the muscles of his bladder. Dogs can lose control over the muscles of their bladder due to age or nerve damage.

Urinary Incontinence in Dogs Explained

Canine urinary incontinence in dogs occurs when a dog loses voluntary control over the muscles that allow him to hold urine inside his bladder. It isn't the same as inappropriate urination. When a dog becomes incontinent, urine begins to leak from the bladder constantly, because the muscles of the bladder sphincter have weakened and can no longer hold urine in. 

Urinary incontinence can often be the result of aging. Reproductive hormones help to keep the muscles of the bladder strong and functioning properly. As your dog ages, his body naturally produces fewer of these hormones. As hormone levels go down, your dog's ability to control his bladder muscles diminishes. Urinary incontinence is often a chronic condition.

Rarely, incontinence occurs in very young dogs as a result of congenital defects. Urinary polyps or tumors are sometimes to blame for the condition in geriatric dogs. Damage to the nerves that control the bladder can cause incontinence. It also sometimes occurs as a side effect of prostate disease.

Risk Factors for Bladder Leakage in Dogs

Age is a primary risk factor for canine urinary incontinence. Females are more likely than males to become incontinent. Dogs who are spayed or neutered might become incontinent at a younger age than is considered normal with age-related incontinence. Age-related incontinence typically occurs in dogs between the ages of eight to ten years; spayed females may become incontinent as young as three to five years of age.

Complications Associated with Canine Urinary Incontinence

Incontinent dogs are especially prone to bladder infections. Vets think that this occurs because bacteria are more able to penetrate the weakened opening of the incontinent dog's bladder. Incontinent dogs may need antibiotics until they have received adequate treatment for the problem.

Urine scalding is a second complication associated with urinary incontinence in dogs. Urine contains caustic acids that can literally burn your dog's skin. Because incontinent dogs experience constant bladder leakage, urine can remain on their skin for long periods of time. Urine scalding can cause severe irritation and even ulcers that must be treated with topical antibiotic ointments.

Treating Urinary Incontinence in Dogs

Phenylpropanolamine, or PPA, is a non-hormonal medication that can be used to treat incontinence in both female and male dogs. Hormone replacement therapy is often used to treat urinary incontinence in dogs. Hormone therapy is typically given daily until incontinence symptoms are under control. Medications are then typically administered once a week to manage the condition.

Dogs with incontinence need lifelong treatment to manage their condition. In some cases, medication can't entirely resolve incontinence symptoms. Dogs who continue to experience bladder leakage while being treated with medication can wear dog bloomers to help soak up the urine and keep it from remaining on their skin.