We are frequently phoned to discuss how we can help with ageing dogs starting to 'dribble' and 'leak' as clients start to notice periodic urinary accidents. Unfortunately this is not only restricted to elderly dogs, but can also happen with excitement, and also as a result of loss of control of the hind quarters – sometimes from accidents causing muscular and skeletal problems. There are many reasons why involuntary urination can happen, and hence it is always essential to discuss your dog's health with your vet.
Bladder infections can increase the frequency of urination while also producing very little urine. Your dog may have a very urgent need to go but insufficient time to make it out side. Herniated or ruptured disks can cause your dog to lose bladder control by creating neurological problems.
Illnesses such as kidney disease or diabetes can play a role as well. Cushing’s disease causes dogs to have an insatiable thirst and all this extra water must go somewhere, sometimes catching your dog off guard.
As a dog ages the urethral muscles lose their elasticity and make it harder for your dog to “hold it” like they used to. Female dogs have a drop in oestrogen levels as they age and can experience incontinence.
When you make a appointment with your vet you may be asked to take a urine sample with you, so they can start diagnosis immediately. The easiest way to collect a sample that I have found is to take your dog out to their usual spot, on a leash, first thing in the morning. As your dog begins to urinate slip one of those disposable plastic containers into the flow of urine. Your dog will most likely look at you like you’ve lost your mind but if you play your cards right you will have a perfect sample for your Vet.
Your Vet will investigate the cause, and then you can discuss the plan of action. This may be a course of antibiotics for a bladder infection or products to help with hormone imbalances. Some of these products can cause side effects, so it is essential that you understand what these are likely to be, and be able to monitor them in your dog.
While treatment is ongoing we would advise the use of dog diapers. They help stop the leaks around the house, and hence the smell and staining etc. We are often asked whether dogs mind wearing them – and my own feeling is that most dogs are aware that they are dribbling, and are aware of the smell, and the fact that they can't control themselves, and, in a strange way, are 'relieved' not to be leaking where they shouldn't be (have to forgive the pun there), so are happy to wear their special 'pants'. These are available as washable, for both female and male anatomy, or disposable. Some people recommend using baby nappies, and cutting a hole for the tail – the problem with this is that instead of urinary leakage around the house – you have a trail of 'nappy filling' to clear up, as the absorbent material gradually works its way out.
Anytime you are faced with a long term medication that carries potential side effects it is best to see if a natural solution will work instead. The Phytopet range of herbal remedies contains Phytopet Dry, a blend of herbal tinctures that can have very positive results, and without side effects. This can be taken alongside some veterinary medications, but it is essential that before you do this you discuss this with either your vet or with us, and we can then refer it to the trained herbalists at Phytopet. They are always on hand to discuss a dog's medication and their own solution(s) to the problem, and to identify any drug interactions. We have many happy customers (and testimonials) whose dogs are no longer taking the veterinary prescription medicines because the Phytopet Dry has helped the incontinence.