- Urination Problems
- Odor due to a web skin and coat
- Irritation near the vulva
- Thirst (polydispsia)
- Unusual behavior due to discomfort
There are several possible causes for our dog's urinary incontinence. These fall into the categories physical issues (structural problems), blockages or infection. These problems can appear alone or in combination with others such as when a physical issue makes it easier for a bacterial infection to take hold.
- Ectopic Ureters
- USMI (incompetence of the urethral sphincter mechanism)
- Thickening of the bladder wall (fibrosis)
- Neoplasia (abnormal cell growth)
- Uroliths (bladder stones)
- Mineral deposits
- Infection Bacterial Urinary Tract Infection
- Fungal Urinary Tract Infection
See our guide to specific causes of incontinence in older dogs. The information below describes the more common conditions named above.
Bladder Urine Storage Issue (ectopic ureters): this is the most common cause of incontinence in youg dogs. The ureters connect the kidneys to the bladder. Sometimes a problem exists where the ureters attach to the bladder. This problem is seen most often in Huskies and Golden Retrievers. Surgery is used to help your dog with this condition
Incompetence of the Urethral Sphincter Mechanism (USMI): This condition is the most common cause of incontinence in female dogs. It occurs when the sphincter muscle that controls the flow of urine through the urethra (the tube that connects the bladder to the outside of the body) is not closing off the urine properly. This problem is seen in young dogs prior to the first time they go into heat or after a female dog is neutered.
In terms of first heat, Breeds where this problem is seen more often is the Newfoundland and Golden Retriever species. In young dogs the condition can correct itself after the first heat.
Incontinence associated with neutering is seen in Schnauzers, Bobtails, Boxers and Dobermans. The probably cause is the change in hormones brought on by this procedure.
The exact cause of this problem is not known. It is thought that when the bladder isn't in the correct position it can cause USMI.
There is a natural homeopathic remedy available which may help with canine bladder control. Ingredients such as cantharis (helps with the urge to urinate), causticum (helps with accidents when barking), equistum (helps with physical issues) and Ferrum Phos (bladder support). One product made specifically for this purpose and that is a good source for additional research is Better-Bladder Control is specially formulated to temporarily relieve incontinence and strengthen the bladder.
Abnormal Bladder Problems: There are several bladder issues that can cause canine urinary incontinence. These include:
- Bladder Wall Fibrosis (thickening of the bladder wall)
- Bladder Neoplasia (abnormal cell growth)
- Urethral Neoplasia (abnormal cell growth in the urethra - tube that carries urine outside the body)
- Urolithiasis (bladder stones, mineral deposits that block the urine)
- Bladder Paralysis
Symptoms associated with these conditions in addition to those shown for canine urinary incontinence include:
- Painful urination (dysuria)
- Slow drop by drop urination (stranguria)
- Frequent Urge to Urinate (pollakiuria)
Diagnosis of bladder conditions is done with
x-rays and ultrasound.
Canine Urinary Tract Infection: A urinary tract infection is usually due to bacteria that enters the body from the outside through the tube that carries urine. The infection can colonize in the urinary tract and spread up to the bladder and in severe cases, the kidneys.
The body uses urine to fight bacterial infection. When the urine isn't in balance (abnormal PH), or when your dog is not urinating enough, the bacteria has time to settle in the bladder. The infection itself causes inflammation in the urinary tract, which causes the passages to narrow. With narrow passages less urine can flow through the urethra. Other parts of the urine, such as crystals or minerals, can begin to cling together forming stones, leading to even more blockages.
If your dog is susceptible to infection, a good home remedy is to feed your dog a berry based juice such as cranberry juice. Berries have properties that keep bacteria from clinging to the bladder. It also helps improve the acidity of the urine. You could also try a homeopathic supplement such as PetAlive UTI-Free Formula which is specifically made to support the urinary system and restore the PH balance. One last tip is to increase the number of walks you take your dog on. The increased urination from walking and drinking more will help "flush" the urinary system.
If the infection progresses then antibiotics can be effective in treating bacterial canine urinary infection.
Infection can also be caused by a fungus. This is usually triggered by either a medication your dog is taking or the onset of diabetes mellitus. Once the underlying trigger is removed, fungal infection usually resolves itself.
Canine Bladder Stones: Stones are caused by urinary crystals that are able to collect in the urinary tract or bladder and then form into stones. There are two types of common stone, struvite and oxalate. Your veterinarian will attempt to either flush small stones or dissolve them with medications. Struvite stones, if small, can be dissolved with a change to a prescription diet. Oxalate or struvite stones, if problematic can be removed via surgery. Dietary change to a Prescription Diet can help to keep both kinds of stones from forming.