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Dog Incontinence Treatment

Dog Incontinence Treatment

Involuntary or inappropriate urination or defecation by canines should not always be seen as a behavioral problem that results from a lack of house training. The following article will provide information on the underlying causes of this problem.
Dhanya Joy
Did You Know?
The incidence of urinary incontinence in dogs is higher in case of spayed female dogs. Around 10-20% of female dogs may suffer from urinary incontinence after the surgical removal of the uterus and ovaries.
The terms 'urinary incontinence' and 'fecal incontinence' refer to involuntary loss of bladder control and bowel control respectively. While the episodes of house soiling are observed in more than 30% of the dogs that are affected by behavioral issues, dog owners must understand that there could be an underlying medical condition behind such episodes. When the loss of bladder or bowel control is due to a medical condition, the symptoms can be alleviated only with the help of proper medical treatment.
Incontinence in Dogs
There are certain medical conditions that can increase the risk of incontinence in canines. Here are some of the contributory factors for loss of bladder control in canines.
Infections: Loss of bladder control could be a sign of a bladder infection. Medically referred to as cystitis, bladder infections are characterized by inflammation of the lining of the bladder. Bladder infections that are caused by bacteria can make the urine more alkaline. This can lead to the formation of struvite stones. Bladder stones can irritate the bladder, thereby increasing the risk of urge incontinence.

Treatment: The treatment options would vary depending on the nature of the infection. Before the urine sample is collected through cystocentesis, a broad-spectrum antibiotic would be prescribed. An X-ray examination or an ultrasound may be conducted to check for bladder stones. Dietary modification may be suggested to alter the mineral content of the urine. If tests reveal the presence of bladder stones, surgery may be suggested for the removal of stones.
Prostate Problems: Prostatitis refers to the inflammation of the prostate gland in male dogs. Development of prostatic abscesses could also make a male dog susceptible to loss of bladder control. At times, surgical removal of the prostate gland is recommended for treating prostate problems in canines. This surgery may lead to urinary or fecal incontinence.

Treatment: Drug therapy may be required for treating infection and inflammation. At times, neutering may be recommended to alleviate the symptoms associated with an enlarged or inflamed gland.
Hormone Responsive Incontinence: Also called urinary sphincter incontinence, this is a condition that is characterized by the weakness of the sphincter muscle or valve that is located at the neck of the bladder. This valve controls the outflow of urine from the bladder. The leakage of urine occurs due to the failure of the muscle to contract when the dog is sleeping or relaxing. Since estrogen helps maintain the muscle tone of the sphincter, surgical removal of the ovaries and uterus in female dogs may increase the risk of loss of bladder control. Dogs that are middle-aged or older are more likely to suffer from this condition.

Treatment: Phenylpropanolamine (PPA) is a drug that can be effective in increasing the muscle tone of the urethra. In severe cases, a combination of estrogen and alpha-adrenergic agonists may be prescribed. Low dosage of estrogen DES (diethylstilbestrol) may be recommended for spayed female dogs.
Ectopic Ureter: This is a congenital abnormality in which the ureter opens in the uterus, urethra or vagina instead of opening in the bladder. Female dogs belonging to breeds such as the Golden Retriever, Labrador Retrievers, and soft-coated Wheaten Terrier are more susceptible. Almost half of the dogs that have an ectopic ureter have a weak urinary sphincter. This condition is characterized by constant or intermittent dribbling of urine.

Treatment: This condition needs to be treated with surgery. The surgery involves the creation of a new opening through which urine can be collected in the bladder, and flushed out of the body through the urethra.
Besides the aforementioned conditions, urinary incontinence could also occur if the nerves that control the bladder get affected. Trauma to the spinal cord could also increase the risk of incontinence in canines. Older dogs could sometimes develop cognitive dysfunction. This is a condition in which the affected dogs forget house training. They may defecate or urinate indoors. The exact cause of this disorder is not known. It is believed that genetic factors may have a role to play. Chronic kidney failure, diabetes mellitus, kidney stones, tumors, etc. could also cause urinary incontinence. Parasitic infections, nerve damage, weakened anal reflex, and gastrointestinal problems can cause fecal incontinence. The treatment usually involves drug therapy. Taking the dog for frequent walks can help stimulate defecation.
Dog owners must understand that incontinence is a medical condition. Punishing or trying to train the dog is the most inappropriate way of addressing this condition. While the problem of house soiling can be addressed with the help of diapers or pads, do consult a veterinarian to identify the underlying cause of incontinence in your dog.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a qualified vet.
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