What is Dog Incontinence? What To Do When It Happens

“Why is my dog suddenly peeing in the house?” This may be a question you ask your veterinarian or even talk with your friends about. You’ve had your dog for years now. You’ve lived through the puppy housetraining years; now all of a sudden it seems your senior dog is having “accidents” in the house! 

Let’s face it, sometimes “accidents” happen. If your dog has been gulping down water and you’ve been away from home longer than usual or your dog walker couldn’t make it as planned you may come home to pee on the floor. Chances are your dog will be hanging their head; they know they aren’t supposed to go in the house, but they just couldn’t hold it. 

What happens, though, when you notice your senior dog is suffering dog incontinence more often. You wake up in the morning and there is pee on the floor. In the middle of the afternoon, even though you’ve taken them out several times, you look and there’s pee. Ugh, right? Before you get angry at your dog, we urge you to call your veterinarian and let them know what’s happening. Your veterinarian will probably want to see your dog and examine them to rule out any health issue. A dog could be incontinent because: 

  • They have an infection
  • They have developed diabetes
  • Thyroid disease
  • Arthritis or mobility issues
    1. An emotional issue — changes in the household, changes in routine, a new puppy in the house, etc.
  • Neurological issues, among others 

What is Dog Incontinence?

The definition of dog incontinence is, “the involuntary leaking or dribbling of urine.” It is not usually your dog squatting or lifting its leg to go to the bathroom in the house. In fact, your dog may even seem or act surprised when they realize they have peed in the house. 

If your dog is peeing in the house, it is not a sign of “your dog getting older.” Dog incontinence typically points to an underlying health issue and needs to be checked by your veterinarian. 

When you take your dog to the vet to be checked, your vet may ask you to bring in a “first morning sample” of urine. That may sound intimidating, but it’s really not. Bring a flat bowl or baking sheet and slide it under your pup when they urinate. Capture the urine then transfer it into a clean jar and bring to the vet. You should be prepared for your veterinarian to order blood work or run further tests to get to the bottom of your dog’s incontinence issue. 

After your veterinarian has either ruled out an underlying health issue or has discovered one you will be sent home with medications or with steps to take to help your aging senior dog and their incontinence. 

What To Do When Your Dog Pees In The House & How To Get Rid of the Urine Odor

When you’re living with a senior dog you need to be prepared for health issues to arise and these issues can include dog incontinence. You have to be patient with your dog — remember they don’t have any control over what’s happening to them, they aren’t doing it to make you angry and a housetrained dog will not want to have an accident in the house. 

If living with an incontinent dog is in your future you have to find ways to keep your house, floors and carpets clean and free of urine smells. This is especially true if your dog spends time on your bed or on the furniture; dog incontinence is not relegated to the floor only. 

To reduce damage to your house and to prevent smells you need to:

  1. Promptly clean the urine
  2. Thoroughly clean the urine-stained area
  3. Use an odour-neutralising spray to eliminate the urine odor

Don’t limit your dog’s water intake as a way to address dog incontinence. Dogs, especially senior dogs with underlying health issues, need water to maintain their health and to prevent dehydration. You may want to consider natural supplements as well to help them with relief. Either way, monitor your dog’s health everyday and make slight adjustments until they are feeling themselves again. It will take time. 

This may seem odd, but you should housetrain a puppy, when you adopt one, to urinate on a dog potty pad. This is an ideal way to not only housetrain the puppy but it is a way to acclimate a dog to using a dog potty pad – so your senior dog will use it when you put one down to help with their incontinence. You can certainly train a senior dog to use a potty pad, but if they’ve seen it throughout their lives, at various times, it will quickly become second nature. 

Every time your incontinent senior dog successfully uses the dog potty pad, praise and reward them; it will make your clean up of the house much easier! 

Dogs who are accustomed to wearing clothing may take very nicely to wearing a doggie diaper. These easy-to-remove doggie diaper garments will keep urine from getting on to the floor or your furniture or bed and protect your home better; these are especially helpful if your dog sleeps on your bed or has their own bed. 

Living with an incontinent dog

We understand it is frustrating to think your senior dog is incontinent. We also know that with aging comes health issues and one of those that pet parents need to be prepared for is the idea that their beloved, once house trained dog, is incontinent. After you have been to the veterinarian has ruled out a health issue, or perhaps has discovered a health issue, you will have direction on either addressing the health issue or knowing you will be living with a dog who will continue to have accidents in the house. 

To help deal with the inevitable frustration and with getting tired of cleaning up urine, cleaning carpets and changing doggie diapers you need to remember the deep bond you and your now-senior dog share. You watched this dog grow from a rambunctious, energetic puppy into a mild-mannered “teen” and now you are sharing the golden years of your dog’s life and that will come with its own unique challenges. 

Our dogs are a commitment for a lifetime — in good times and in bad — and our dog look to us for comfort, care and understanding as they age. Look for products and services that will help your senior dog age well and talk with your veterinarian for insight and advice. 

Show us your senior dog. Let us know of any challenges you may have faced, or be facing, with your senior dog and how you addressed them.

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