Stress Incontinence in Dogs

Stress incontinence is a common type of urinary incontinence in canines. Dogs can release small amounts of urine when they are in a stressful situation. This problem can be eliminated by identifying the situations your dog finds stressful. Once this is done, these situations can be avoided or the dog can be trained to respond differently when faced with a stressful situation.

Types of Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence can occur in dogs due to different causes:

  • Stress
  • Lack of sexual hormones that control the bladder (typically when the dog is older or neutered)
  • When licking the genitals, as the muscles controlling the bladder relax and urine can be released
  • While sleeping, when the muscles are relaxed
  • A growth affecting the bladder or prostate
  • Hereditary abnormalities in the structure of the urinary tract

Stress incontinence is frequently met in dogs along with urinary incontinence due to old age or neutering. While urinary incontinence due to a lack of sexual hormones requires permanent treatment, stress incontinence can be treated.

Stress Incontinence in Dogs

Stress can cause the dog to release urine in small amounts. This is due to the fact that the dog cannot control his muscles when faced with a stressful situation. The dog can be stressed due to various reasons such as:

  • Noises (such as ambulances or fireworks)
  • Aggression from the owner or a member of the family (such as a toddler unconsciously hurting the dog)
  • The presence of a dominant dog
  • A new member of family
  • Changes in the structure of the home

Symptoms of Stress

In addition to urinary incontinence, the dog may also display other symptoms that can point to stress:

  • Licking, chewing or biting the paws or skin
  • Digging and other obsessive behaviors
  • Sudden moves, especially when hearing a noise or seeing someone move
  • Lack of appetite
  • Aggressiveness
  • Whining
  • Barking

Treating Stress Incontinence

Urinary incontinence triggered by stress can be fully treated. The first step in treating stress incontinence is to detect the causes of stress. If possible, the triggers of stress should be eliminated. If this is not an option, the dog should be trained to get used to the factors causing stress (such as noises). This can be done through therapy, but it requires patience and time. The dog can be gradually exposed to these stress-causing factors and can get used to them without responding negatively.

Pheromone therapy can be useful in reducing stress. Aromatherapy or other alternative remedies can also be used. In extreme cases, medication is also an option. Prozac or Reconcile can be prescribed to reduce stress and eliminate stress incontinence.

If the stress is treated, the urinary incontinence should also be eliminated. During treatment, the dog can get absorbent diapers or pads, to reduce the urine in your home. Change these pads on a regular basis, to prevent the development of rashes or skin irritation due to urine.