Female Dog Incontinence Treatment

Female dog incontinence is one of the most common problems facing older female dogs, or ones who have been spayed. Female dogs are more prone than males to incontinence, which occurs when a dog no longer retains full control over the muscles of the bladder. These muscles weaken, allowing urine to leak out almost constantly. 

Causes of Female Dog Incontinence

Female dogs typically become incontinent because their bodies are no longer producing adequate amounts of the reproductive hormone, estrogen. Estrogen helps keep your dog's bladder muscles strong and helps them function properly, so that she has complete control over her bladder. Without enough estrogen, your dog's bladder muscles weaken and she can no longer keep urine in through conscious effort. Urine begins to leak out of the bladder almost constantly, but especially when the dog is resting or lying down.

Risk Factors for Female Dog Incontinence

Being spayed is a primary risk factor for female dog incontinence. Having the reproductive organs removed can lower levels of reproductive hormones in your dog's blood. This can lead to weakness in the muscles of the bladder and incontinence. Spayed female dogs may become incontinent as young as three to five years of age.

Age is another risk factor for female dog incontinence. As your dog ages, her body naturally begins to produce less estrogen. When hormone levels drop, bladder muscles weaken and your dog becomes incontinent.

Complications of Female Dog Incontinence

Incontinent female dogs are at an increased risk of bladder infection because bacteria are more easily able to penetrate the weakened bladder. Incontinent female dogs may suffer from serious bladder infections and may need to remain on antibiotics until their incontinence symptoms have been dealt with.

Incontinent female dogs may also suffer from urine scalding, a complication that develops when urine remains on the dog's skin for long periods of time. Urine is very acidic and caustic, and can burn your dog's skin. Symptoms of urine scalding include severe irritation of the skin and even ulceration. Urine scalding is treated with antibiotic ointments.

Treating Female Dog Incontinence

Female dog incontinence can usually be treated with hormone replacement therapy. Your dog will need estrogen in daily doses until her incontinence is under control. Once symptoms are under control, the vet will give you a treatment schedule. Most dogs receive hormone replacement therapy to treat incontinence once a week.

Your vet may recommend phenylpropanolamine, or PPA, a non-hormonal drug used to treat incontinence in both female and male dogs. PPA may be used in combination with hormone replacement therapy drugs or alone to treat female dog incontinence.

In some cases, medication alone can't completely resolve the symptoms of dog incontinence. Incontinence is usually chronic in dogs and your pet will need medication for the rest of her life to manage symptoms. If medication isn't sufficient and your dog's bladder continues to leak urine, she can wear dog bloomers to help soak it up.