Diagnosing Dog Incontinence

Dog incontinence refers to an inability to adequately control the bladder and urinary function. Dogs suffering from incontinence have lost some control over their bladder, and tend to urinate at inappropriate times or in incorrect places. Although canine incontinence typically occurs during periods of rest, in some cases your dog may lose control of his bladder even while awake and moving around.

Causes and Symptoms of Dog Incontinence

Your dog’s bladder is controlled through hormones. As a dog ages, or if he experiences some hormonal imbalance, he might have a more difficult time maintaining control over his bladder. Typically, female dogs suffer from incontinence more frequently than male dogs. As your pet’s hormone production declines later in life, he or she tends to suffer from progressive incontinence.

It's important to note that dog incontinence can also be due to dangerous growths in the bladder or other parts of the urinary tract. These can consist of benign or malignant tumors, polyps or other tissue masses. As with all unexplained growths, the cause of your pet's incontinence may or may not require immediate veterinary attention. For this reason, it's important to diagnose and investigate your pet’s incontinence, as it can be an indicator of a more serious health condition.

Dogs that are incontinent will urinate in abnormal places. The amount of urine will often be quite small. You might find your dog hiding or cowering, particularly if he knows that his behavior was unacceptable. Canine incontinence does not, in itself, present any distinct physical symptoms. If you do notice any other changes of behavior or symptoms of disease, these may be associated with a related condition. This information will prove helpful in diagnosing the source of your pet's incontinence.

Making a Proper Diagnosis

Make a note of the time line of your pet’s symptoms and any other pieces of information regarding his medical history that are relevant, and schedule an appointment for a veterinary exam. Your vet will thoroughly examine your dog for signs of any complicating conditions, and may ask you for help in determining the source of your pet’s condition.

If your vet suspects that your dog is suffering from age-related incontinence, he can prescribe a hormone therapy regimen in order to help your dog regain control. If he suspects that a hormonal imbalance or abnormal growth is responsible for your pet’s incontinence, he will conduct further exams. These can include x-rays, blood tests and urinalyses. Although complicating health conditions are rare, it's best to be sure that your pet is not suffering from another disease.

After your vet diagnoses your pet’s condition, speak with him for further advice about how to cope with and manage canine incontinence. While the condition might not be entirely treatable, a combination of hormone therapy and environmental changes can help your dog to control his bladder, and help you to deal with occasional messes as well.