Urinary Incontinence in Puppies: Puppies Pee, Huh? Koda’s Story

Urinary incontinence describes involuntary pee leakage.

Common causes of urinary incontinence include:

  • urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • excessive drinking
  • weak bladder sphincter
  • spinal cord disease

The above issues are those your veterinarian should look at first. But what happens when they are ruled out and a solution is lacking?

Then it is time to investigate less common causes, such as

“Puppies pee” is not a diagnosis. Thank you, Julie Nutter for sharing Koda’s story.

Urinary Incontinence in Puppies: Puppies Pee, Huh? Koda's Story

Koda’s story

I have a working relationship with my vet. It just so happens that the relationship is torn between his exasperation with me and my wanting to smack him.

Throw in that I fancy myself a professional dog trainer and that he fancies himself a behaviorist as well as a vet, and you have more than just a slight possibility that some toes will be stepped on.

Also, my vet has an ego.

He’s very smart, and – despite some peoples’ opinions to the contrary when it comes to the case of me and my dog – very good at his job.

And as an information-gatherer of a more sneaky sort, I am very good at mine.

Every vet visit, I ask questions that he answers with a little more abandon than he might if he stopped to remember that I am a professional concerned about her dog and not the sixteen-year-old with a puppy that he sees.

Hi, I’m JJ. I’m a 23-year-old dog trainer with more jobs than you want me to count if you intend that I stay awake by the time I finish.

I look like a teenager, no matter how professionally I dress, and could probably stand to gain a pound or two. All of this means that, with certain people, it doesn’t matter how I dress or how I conduct myself.

It means that when they look at me, they will see a teenager.

Meet the vet

Meet the vet. I won’t give you his name. Can you guess what he sees when he looks at me?

It’s a good thing that I have a flexible ego…

And the dog?

That’s Koda. She’s a going-on-eight-months old Australian Shepherd puppy with a pee problem.

Urinary Incontinence in Puppies: Puppies Pee, Huh? Koda's Story

When I brought her home, she peed a lot.

She peed outside every ten or fifteen minutes when I took her out. Twice. Sometimes thrice.

She peed inside every so often, too; sometimes right after she’d just peed twice outside. Mostly, when she peed inside, she did it while she was running, walking, playing, lying down, or trying to get to the door. Once in a while, she peed while I was trying to put on her leash.

I took to putting her leash on outside and carrying her to the door. Once or twice, she peed in my arms. Those times, I didn’t love her so much.

Here’s the rule: If you’re having trouble with training – potty training or even behavioral problems – the first thing you do is rule out medical causes.

Urinary Incontinence in Puppies: Puppies Pee, Huh? Koda's Story

Who do you see for potential-doggy-medical-problems? The vet, of course!

Unfortunately, the vet first answered my – well, the dog’s – problem with “puppies pee.”  (In his defense, this was before she leaked all over me while I carried her to the door.)

Equally unfortunate, and quite frustrating for the vet, was my refusal to accept that as an answer to her problem.

We did a pee test. One. Pee. Test. Did I mention there are two types of pee tests?

Well, there are. And beware, because no one thought to mention that to me. (And by no one, I mean the vet. The host of this here blog was how I found out!)

We ran one that checks for kidney function – tests for protein in the urine and makes sure the gravity and all that is good for go – and everything checked out.

I expected that he’d check for white blood cells. You know…because when there is a lot of those, there tends to be an infection of some sort at the root….and a lot of puppies come with worms and a lot of girl puppies come with vaginal infections.

He also didn’t tell me that he didn’t test for that.

So, when I found out, I had him test for that. …That was after I’d already made him rerun the test.

Her kidneys checked out both times.

Or all three times. I can’t even remember how many pee samples I brought. For the sake of argument, we’ll say three. Two for kidney, one for infection.

My frustration must have been apparent in a very bullheaded fashion because, after the second test, he sent me home with antibiotics.

Low. Level. Antibiotics.

I was on the receiving end of some speech about how he didn’t think it was a vaginal infection, but if it was, the antibiotic would be more than enough for that. If it was a bladder infection – and I gave them a third sample to see – we’d have to adjust the dosage.

A couple of days later?

Well, I got a frantic call telling me to cut the antibiotics and get my dog to the vet. A sterile sample was to be taken and analyzed.

Did I mention that I can be a tricky information-gatherer?

When picking her up, I had the vet come out and explain what was going on. Turns out that when he ran the sample, one slide would be free of infection while the other had more white blood cells than he could count.

I got the sneaking suspicion he thought I’d somehow contaminated the sample….

And that I got to pay an extra $250 for it.


The sample came back clean. The sample came back clean.

From the bladder. Which didn’t rule out infection in the urinary tract, but nothing was mentioned about that.

Of course, nothing was mentioned about that.

It was decided that when she was spayed, another sample would be taken and the vet would check everything to make sure nothing was wrong. (Blood work, EKG, another urine sample, a look to make sure everything on the inside was where it was supposed to be, and a scope to make sure no foreign objects were hiding out.)

Something was hiding out. Are you surprised? I wasn’t.

(Although, I need to note here that when a vet tells you that nothing is wrong, there is a very good chance that nothing is. Yes, we know our dogs because we live with them every day and see their behavior every day, but that doesn’t make us medical professionals. The problem could very well have been in my head. It just wasn’t, and even if it was, I was making damn sure that everything else was ruled out before I accepted that as an answer.)

Meanwhile, Koda wasn’t getting any better and started being lethargic.

Finally, the day of the spay operation arrived. And guess what?

It’s turned out that she has ectopic ureters, allowing for the incontinence that she was experiencing, and explaining the potty problems that we were having.

Apparently, this is not a common thing.

But when questioned, the vet couldn’t exactly answer whether the uncommon ectopic ureters was due to it actually being uncommon, or due to it not being commonly checked for.

Puppies pee, huh? 

My question is, would this be found if I didn’t keep pestering my vet…

Related articles:
Potty Accidents in Dogs: Incontinence versus UTIs
My Dog’s Pee: What Can You Learn from Your Dog’s Urine

Further reading:
Ectopic Ureters in Dogs

Categories: ConditionsMisdiagnosesReal-life StoriesUrinary 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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