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Reasons for Loss of Bladder Control in Dogs

| Updated September 26, 2017

A number of factors can lead to loss of bladder control in dogs, including the aging process. Urinary incontinence is a common problem in older canines. Despite that, dogs of all different age groups can suffer from bladder control problems. When dogs have urinary incontinence, they urinate without conscious control.

Urinary Incontinence Vs. Inappropriate Urination

If a dog is housebroken and suddenly seems to have no control over the activity of his bladder, he has urinary incontinence. When incontinent dogs urinate indoors, it's totally different than house-soiling. Incontinent dogs are physically incapable of holding their urine in due to bladder problems.

Dogs who engage in inappropriate urination, on the other hand, are often a totally different story. Inappropriate urination can be caused by insufficient house-training, separation anxiety, territorial behaviors, submissive behaviors, fear, excitement and general behavioral troubles. If an elderly dog leaks urine all over his owner's sofa due to lack of bladder control, it's not the same as another dog urinating indoors to claim his territory, for example.

Medical Conditions

Many health conditions can lead to urinary incontinence and resulting urinary accidents in dogs. Some examples of these health conditions include urinary tract infections, diabetes, obesity, Addison's disease, chronic inflammatory disease, brain diseases, Cushing's syndrome, intervertebral disc disease, adrenal gland diseases, congenital problems, spinal degeneration, ectopic ureters, kidney tumors, kidney failure, food reactions and intestinal parasites. Use of some medications can even cause incontinence.

A handful of highly specific triggers can bring on incontinence issues in dogs. Some dogs have physical trouble with their urethrae or bladders. Birth defects such as lack of bladder development appear in some animals. Other dogs have neurological irregularities that are associated with sections of the spinal cord and brain that relate to bladder operations.

Incontinence and Aging

Urinary incontinence appears in many aging dogs. When dogs get older, the muscles that accommodate urine within the bladder often become markedly more feeble. This weakness can be responsible for urinary incontinence in elderly pooches.

Older dogs are also often more susceptible to certain medical conditions that involve urination. Polyuria is just one such example. When a dog has polyuria, his body produces and releases much more urine than normal.

Senility can cause urinary problems in dogs -- those who are senile sometimes leak urine without knowing it.

Incontinence and Spayed Females

Urinary incontinence is extremely prevalent in fixed female dogs. Reduced estrogen levels are believed to be associated with incontinence in spayed animals. This is referred to as hormone-responsive incontinence. If you own a spayed pooch who is incontinent, you might observe conspicuous effects such as urine leakage during stair climbing and urine leakage during sleeping time.

Common Signs of Incontinence

If you have any reason to believe that your dog might be incontinent, take him to the veterinarian immediately for assessment, regardless of his age. Since urinary incontinence can be the result of various medical conditions, prompt treatment might be necessary. Urine leakage is a particularly common symptom of incontinence. This dripping can often lead to conspicuous redness and skin irritation in affected dogs. Other telltale symptoms include damp patches in bedding, damp hind legs and inordinate penis or vulva licking.