Urinary Incontinence in Dogs: Living with an Incontinent Dog

Urinary incontinence is a common problem in spayed female dogs.

The working theory was that Cookie’s intermittent leaks are estrogen-responsive incontinence because she was spayed extremely young.

On the off chance, that there is a neurological component, we also keep up with chiropractic adjustments which Cookie would need anyway because of her old pelvic injury and having one hind leg slightly longer than the other.

Over time, observation and brainstorming led to a different theory—however odd and unusual it may be. Whatever the reason, we have to manage the times when Cookie leaks.

Urinary Incontinence in Dogs: Living with an Incontinent Dog

Managing Cookie’s urinary accidents

Cookie does not leak all the time.

There is no regular pattern to it either. Sometimes she won’t leak at all, sometimes she’ll drip, and sometimes she’ll have an outright leak. She may be sleeping or she may be awake. Though the biggest leak she ever had was when she was hard asleep after a play in fresh snow, which involves eating a bunch of it too.

I still find it puzzling that it happens mostly during the day and rarely at night or in the morning and that often she’ll leak even after she went to pee.

One theory was that she has an anatomical abnormality causing urine pooling. Based on my observations I’m still somewhat partial to that theory, even though abdominal ultrasound she had done to investigate her elevated liver values didn’t seem to show any evidence of that.

How we’re treating Cookie’s incontinence


At this point, I am still hesitant to consider the go-to treatment, Proin—particularly since I don’t quite subscribe to the default theory.

Proin seems effective and many dogs do fine on it. It does have side effects and some dogs don’t do well on it at all. Proin seems to be involved in stimulation the “fight or flight” reflexes in the body, resulting in constriction of blood vessels (which also increases blood pressure), mild CNS stimulation … and increase of urethral sphincter tone.

Potential side effects include restlessness, anxiety or agitation, urine retention, anorexia, tachycardia, and high blood pressure. There is a potential for seizures and stroke-like clinical signs.

While Cookie might do just fine on that, I don’t believe we’re at the point of such desperation.

Diethylstilbestrol (DES)

We are sticking to DES therapy, which is a synthetic form of estrogen.

This one seems more dangerous to the pet parent than the dog. I’m not overly worried about that.

I couldn’t really tell whether it does anything or not but at least it doesn’t cause any new issues. Because Cookie’s vet was sold on the estrogen-responsive incontinence, I wanted to try something natural. We experimented with Bladder Support by Pet Naturals.

It doesn’t seem to work any better or any worse than DES.

I also got Leaks No More to potentially try, even though Cookie’s vet doesn’t have much faith in that.

One thing that is on my mind is wondering whether learning how to express her bladder might be a good idea for the future. Where there isn’t any, no urine can leak, right?

Trying to not over-treat

Since Cookie doesn’t leak constantly, not even regularly, I’m trying not to over-treat it.

Meanwhile, the goal is to keep Cookie and her environment dry and clean.

We do not limit Cookie’s water intake.

We offer frequent potty breaks. I monitor for leakage so I can take Cookie out right away and clean up. Some days there is a bunch of laundry involved.

We got special mattress protectors that are made to absorb any leaks, are soft and comfy and easy to wash. We got pee pads laid out on the couch and doggy beds, covered by a comfy sheet. The pads absorb well and the sheets get washed when needed.

Sometimes is a challenge to keep everything set in place, because it’s just laid out there and not secured in any appreciable way. But it’s been working.

We have a potential new theory that seems to match my observations the best so far. It does not, however, change much how we deal.

Do you have an incontinent dog? What worked for you?

Related articles:
My Dog’s Pee
Cookie’s Leaks: New Theory – A Bouncy Bladder?
Potty Accidents in Dogs: Incontinence versus UTIs

Further reading:
Urinary Incontinence

Categories: ConditionsReal-life StoriesSymptomsUrinary accidentsUrinary incontinence

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

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