Causes of Incontinence in Dogs

The causes of incontinence in dogs usually stem from a dysfunction in either the bladder or urethra, but they can sometimes be caused by conditions within the brain or spinal area that control urinary function.

There is also an array of diseases that can attribute to urinary incontinence in dogs as well, which makes the true cause difficult to pinpoint. The true identity of incontinence is simply the inability to control urination, and it can either be temporary or permanent, depending upon the cause of the condition. Here are some of the most common causes of incontinence in dogs.

Ectopic Ureter and Incontinence

Ectopic ureters are usually seen as congenital birth defects and are noticed within 3 to 6 months after birth when potty training begins. The normal termination site for both ureters is the bladder. However, in the case of ectopic ureters, they actually connect directly to the urethra or vagina. This abnormality still allows for urination, but because the anatomical structure is not correct, it causes a certain amount of incontinence and improper urination.

There is a surgical solution for ectopic ureters where the ureters can actually be moved and placed into their normal positioning. However, depending on how long the condition has been present prior to diagnosis, there could already be damage done to the kidney from long-standing infection. In those cases, surgical removal of one of the kidneys may also be needed to solve the incontinence.

Bladder Infection and Incontinence

A bladder infection is caused by bacteria within the bladder or its surrounding structures, and it causes an uncontrollable urge to urinate. Most dogs with a bladder infection may have some pain during urination and may only expel a small amount of urine, though they attempt to urinate quite frequently. If a bladder infection is prolonged and not treated, occasionally it will lead to infection of the kidneys, producing invariable amounts of pain for the dog. These situations, as well, can typically be treated with antibiotics.

Paralysis and Incontinence

Paralysis can affect a large section or small portion of the body. Regardless of which area of the body is affected, it is considered a disorder of the nervous system in that the nervous system no longer produces sensation to particular parts of the body. Depending upon the extent of the paralysis, but especially with the hind legs, it causes incontinence. Just as there is no sensation in the legs of the dog, there is also no sensation to tell a dog when he or she needs to urinate, making the dog unable to control its urinary functions. Whereas both bladder infections and ectopic ureters are related to the issues with the structure and function of the urinary system, paralysis causing incontinence is due to a lack of nervous function.