Urinary incontinence—there is a solution
Incontinence, or the loss of the ability to control the bladder, is not only quite common in humans but is also very common in dogs. This condition is the cause of much stress to pet owners with the task of caring for a pet suffering from it. Inappropriate urination is one of the top reasons why many pet owners resort to the unthinkable solution of surrendering a beloved dog rather than attempting to deal with the problem. In some cases, families can become disrupted to the point of tension which often results in strained relations. Once identified, dog incontinence must be dealt with, and dealt with quickly. To begin, it’s important to understand what causes bladders to leak and not work as they are designed to.
In normal dogs, urine is kept in the bladder until the dog decides it’s time to urinate. The base of the bladder contains a muscular area of tissue that can tighten up and keep the bladder from leaking. This muscle is controlled by voluntary action on the part of the dog and in a sense can act or be described as a valve giving pretty good control over the bladder, and over emptying the bladder. When the dog chooses to urinate, the urine passes through a small tube called the urethra and then exits the body. Some dogs that have a weakened urethral muscle may have a very difficult time controlling the timing of their urination. The urine involuntarily leaks from the urethra while the dog is even resting or sleeping. This condition is extremely common in spayed females who suffer at a very high rate. Signs of urinary incontinence may include dribbling of urine, finding wet spots where the dog was sleeping, and noticing irritated skin from prolonged contact with urine.
Hormones known as the “sex hormones” are usually responsible for maintaining control of this muscular area which acts like a valve. Those hormones are called estrogen in the female and testosterone in the male. Many times certain factors have an effect on the levels of these hormones and as a result, the dog’s ability to retain the urine can be compromised. One of the causes of decrease in these hormones is spaying and neutering. Although spaying and neutering is extremely important in lowering the overall number of unwanted, abused, and abandoned pets in the country, these procedures are not without adverse effect. Old age alone can also contribute to the decreased levels of hormones and certain medications and medical conditions can also be responsible for creating susceptibility for a pet to have bladder leakage.
Tumors in older dogs or growths on or near the bladder, male dogs with prostate disease and some sort of injury to the bladder can all be causes of incontinence. Some dogs are born with defects of the bladder and something like a blockage of the urethra by a stone are also common causes for pets to suffer from incontinence.
Besides getting the carpet and floor wet, incontinence can also increase the chances for a dog to acquire a bladder infection. As soon as this condition is discovered no time should be wasted finding a solution and a cure.
In order to treat incontinence, the underlying cause must first be identified. The veterinarian may possibly suggest surgery to correct the problem or, for some cases, prescription medication may also be used. Proin (phenylpropanolamine) is available in 25mg, 50mg, and 75mg chewable tablets. This medication increases norepinephrine and therefore increases the tone of the muscle of the urethra and the neck of the bladder. Proin use usually takes several days to begin working as it should, and improvements are then observed. Proin is a prescription medication and does have its share of adverse effects. Additionally it may also cause problems for dogs with glaucoma, thyroid disease, diabetes, and heart conditions. It is extremely important to follow your veterinarian’s advice on how to give this medication.
Proin comes as a tasty chewable tablet, so it is extremely important to keep this medication far away from your pets and locked up securely. Although all medications need to be kept out of reach, Proin is a particularly potent prescription medication that may have severe adverse effects to your pet if ingested in overdose quantities. If an overdose does occur, contact animal poison control and your veterinarian immediately for guidance.
DES (diethylstilbestrol) is another medication that is used in the treatment of incontinence. This is a type of estrogen that provides some hormone replacement if the dog is deficient. This medication is available as a compounded medication and works by increasing the urethral tone. Diethylstilbestrol may be used alone but is sometimes used along with Proin to increase the effectiveness of both medications.
The bottom line is that there are treatment options available for the treatment of incontinence, so don’t despair. If you suspect that your dog is suffering from urinary incontinence it is extremely important to schedule a veterinary checkup. Your veterinarian can diagnose the problem and correct it if it’s correctable and, if not, can prescribe the appropriate medication. Most cases of incontinence when handled properly are completely resolved when the appropriate solution is found.
If you have any questions about phenylpropanolamine, diethylstilbestrol, or any other medication that your pet is taking, a 1800PetMeds pharmacist is available to help answer your questions for you.