Urinary incontinence in dogs and cats (leaking urine)

Noticing spots of urine where your pet rests is a sign of incontinence

One of the more common urinary problems in both young and old dogs and in some cases cats, is a pet who has suddenly lost its ability to hold its urine. It is important for a veterinarian to determine if a pet is having an urgency to urinate (which can indicate a whole different category of diseases) or whether a pet is leaking urine, behavior often noticed by finding urine spots under places of resting and sleep, or dribbling urine involuntarily while walking or playing.

Many puppies go through a submissive urination phase, where they urinate involuntarily upon being overly greeted by the guardian or other people. However, this period of time is usually brief, and pets will often outgrow this common puppy problem. The causes of involuntary urination or incontinence in older animals includes many possibilities. One of the more common causes is loss of hormones post neutering or spaying, as the sex hormones are involved in maintaining the muscle tone around the urethra that leads from the bladder to the outside.

Many years ago veterinarians often used as a first line of drug low doses of hormones like estrogen, which had names such as Stilbestrol or DES. Because of occasional side effects seen with sex hormones, we now use these drugs less frequently with the availability of effective medications such as phenylpropanolamine, Proin as it is known in veterinary medicine. Although this drug was banned in human medicine because of rare cardiovascular risks, it is still one of the first line of prescription drugs used in veterinary medicine for dogs with this common problem.

Other more natural alternatives such as HomeoPet Leaks No More are much less effective in my opinion and experience when used long term. If Proin and/or low dose hormone therapy does not help, sometimes veterinarians will turn to drugs used for human bedwetting patients.  In older pets, where weakening of spinal nerve function and/or spinal arthritis or disc disease can play a role in incontinence, alternative systems of medicine like chiropractic and/or acupuncture can sometimes offer relief to these animals. The growing field of veterinary physical therapy can also play a role as an adjunct to treating incontinent pets.

No matter which medication or natural approach is tried, it is important that every pet with a urine leaking problem be screened by a veterinarian for urinary/prostate infection, neurological diseases, or tumors (especially in older pets), before symptomatic treatment is used long term.

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8 Comments

  1. my dog is on hills prescription diet c./d urinary tract health what do you suggest i dont see this on line from pet meds

  2. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianAugust 22, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    My own favorite would be uretic diet by wysong or struvatrol by wysong, in additoin to their supplements biotic ph minus. Find at http://www.wysong.net I prefer this natural diet over C.D

  3. I have my on the hills prescription Cd and he still continues to pee in his sleep. We have taken him to several vets and they cannot find a thing wrong with him. He only pees outside od the box when he is sleeping. We have tried him on testosterone and that just made it stink worse and as far as pills we have tried proin and it seem to help at first but still didn’t stop it completely. Is there anything you would recommend?

  4. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianDecember 4, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    Maybe try homeopet incontinence drops which are natural drops that may help.

  5. My 15 mo. old Manx is startig to leak urine when he is sleeping. I believe it is Manx Syndrome. PPP helps somewhat, would Testosterone be of more help?

  6. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianApril 8, 2013 at 1:42 am

    I do not have any experience using testosterone in cats. I would have exam and urine analysis to make sure no medical issues before putting on drugs for incontinence.

  7. My neighbor’s 12 yr. old Shietso has suddenly urinated and defecated in the house, although he is being taken outside 3 times a day. His wife thinks he is being naughty; I think it is his age. He sleeps most of the time. This is something new. I live next door and Ming visits me often. How do I get this across?

    Thank you. IM

  8. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJanuary 20, 2014 at 12:52 am

    Best for pet at this age to have veterinary exam, blood work, urine analysis and stool check to look for underlying treatable medical causes in case like this

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