Urinary incontinence in dogs and cats (leaking urine)
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.