Urinary incontinence in aging pets
As many pets get older, particularly in spayed or neutered dogs (being much less common in cats), the muscle tone often weakens around the urethra leading to the frustrating problem of involuntary urination and soiling of the home and pet bedding. And while there are many factors often involved from anatomic problems, hormonal issues, and weakness of the nerves to the area, there are at least certain drugs that can help effectively control this symptom in the majority of pets.
One of the more common and effective first line choices often reached to by veterinarians is the prescription drug known as Proin. By tightening the sphincters around the urethra, regular use of Proin can help pets better retain urine between incidences of voiding. We will often use the lowest effective dose of Proin to control the problem, sometimes even being able to taper the dose to a few times a week down from the initial once daily to twice daily dosing often used.
Before your veterinarian places your pet on this drug, it’s important to rule out other medical disorders through a urine analysis, possibly urine culture and if indicated or needed, a blood panel and possibly x-ray studies. It’s also important, particularly in older pets to have blood pressure measured, as the increasing recognition of hypertension in dogs and cats from various cardiac and metabolic diseases can be exacerbated by the use of this drug. In fact, it was cardiac and hypertensive complications that led to the main ingredient in this drug being taken off of the human market only a few years ago. However, in the vast majority of dogs this drug has proven safe most of the time.
When Proin fails to work, especially in spayed female dogs, the use of low doses of prescription estrogen or Stilbestrol (as it is known as) or DES, can sometimes be quite helpful in managing urinary incontinence in conjunction with Proin or by itself. And while many of us learned in school of the dangers of estrogen therapy in dogs, I have not found in my 19 years of clinical practice many problems from using low dose hormonal therapy with estrogen to be problematic in dogs. However, these dogs all should be periodically monitored with blood work if taking DES or Stilbestrol long term.
I’ve found in my experience that some of the natural products out there like HomeoPets Leaks No More to not help most of the dogs I have tried it on. Sometimes chiropractic adjustments or acupuncture done by trained veterinarians can sometimes help those cases where weakness of the spinal nerves is involved with the urinary incontinence.