Incontinence in Dogs While Sleeping

Incontinence in dogs is when urine leaks from the bladder. Normally, a muscular valve at the base of the bladder keeps urine inside the dog's body. Your dog should have control over this muscle, and therefore over his bladder. However, hormonal problems, nerve damage or tumors in the bladder can cause your dog to lose control of his bladder and develop urinary incontinence.

Dog Incontinence Explained

When dogs become incontinent, they lose control of their bladders. This means that urine will leak out of their bladders constantly, especially when they're lying down or resting. Incontinent dogs shouldn't be punished for urinating in the house, since they have no control over the muscles of their bladder. 

The quantities of urine that leak from an incontinent dog's bladder are generally small. Urine is most likely to leak from your incontinent dog's bladder while he's lying down or sleeping. If your dog is incontinent, you'll probably see him licking his genitals a lot more frequently. He may develop sores and ulcerations around his genital region, since the acids in his urine can burn his skin, a phenomenon vets call urine scalding.

Causes of Urinary Incontinence in Dogs

Dogs may develop urinary incontinence at a very young age due to congenital deformities of the bladder. However, this is rare. In most cases, incontinence occurs in older dogs, due to a drop in reproductive hormone levels.

Incontinence can also occur as a result of bladder polyps or tumors in the bladder. Damage to the nerves that control bladder function can cause urinary incontinence. Diseases of the canine prostate can contribute to urinary incontinence in dogs.

Risk Factors for Urinary Incontinence in Dogs

The number one risk factor for canine urinary incontinence is age. Geriatric dogs of both genders can develop urinary incontinence as their levels of reproductive hormones naturally begin to decrease. Spayed and neutered dogs are at higher risk for incontinence. Incontinence usually develops at about eight or nine years of age in female dogs, though male dogs may not develop the condition until they're ten years of age or older.

Complications of Canine Urinary Incontinence

Dogs with urinary incontinence are more prone to bladder infections, since bacteria and viruses can more easily penetrate the weakened bladder. They may also suffer from urine scalding, a condition in which the skin becomes irritated due to exposure to the acids in canine urine. Incontinent dogs may need antibiotic therapy or topical ointments to resolve the complications of their condition.

Coping with Canine Urinary Incontinence

If your dog's incontinence is hormonal in nature, hormone replacement therapy can help minimize or eliminate his symptoms. Your dog will need to take medication daily for a short time. Once you and your vet have incontinence under control, your dog will need medication weekly.

In most cases, hormone replacement therapy can control your dog's incontinence and completely resolve symptoms. Some dogs, however, may never completely recover from incontinence, and may continue to leak small amounts of urine from the bladder. Canine diapers are available to help these dogs live with their condition.