Have you experienced incontinence with your dog? It can be messy and unpleasant, especially if it happens often. But why does it happen? What can you do about it?

So you take your dog to the vet and they will do their assessment and offer medication and maybe surgery depending on the issue. What is causing the problem?

Post Spay

90% of incontinent bitches are spayed and 20% of spayed bitches develop incontinence are spayed! That`s a lot of dogs with leaky bladders! The theory is that there is a lack of estrogen but spayed dogs have not been shown to have less estrogen.

After a spay, the urethral sphincter which keeps urine from leaking, weakens. The bigger the dog, the more likely this is to happen.

Changes in the Spine

Changes with aging such as arthritis may lead to compression on the spinal nerves which control the bladder. As could disc protrusions.

Bladder-Specific Issues

These could include an infection, bladder stones or tumors.

Overflow Incontinence

Potentially caused by a medical condition that causes a dog to consume more water, such as Cushings or diabetes. Or simply if a dog isn`t given the opportunity to empty their bladder in a timely manner (a healthy dog should be able to `hold it` for about 8 hours).

Congenital Anatomical Abnormalities

Abnormalities in genitalia, sphincters, urethra, etc. that were present at birth.

Some cases of incontinence definitely require veterinary intervention (i.e. infection, diabetes, etc.). But if you have a dog who has been spayed or is entering their senior years, there may be another option for treatment beyond medication or surgery…. REHAB! If you haven`t heard, pelvic floor physiotherapy is now common for incontinence. Stay tuned for part 2 for more information about canine rehab for urinary incontinence.