Urinary incontinence means that the pet cannot control his ability to urinate. Typically, urinary incontinence causes a leaky bladder. You might often find wet spots under the pet where he sleeps and seeing dribbling urine as the pet moves around. It must be differentiated from the behavioral problem of “inappropriate urination.”
Urinary incontinence can be seen in young puppies and kittens but is usually seen in middle-aged to older pets. It is much more commonly seen in female dogs than in males. The exact cause is unknown, although, since incontinence often responds to estrogen and testosterone supplementations following spaying and neutering, hormonal factors obviously play a factor in maintaining the tone of the urethra and preventing leakage of the urine. Other hormonal imbalances such as hypothyroidism also can lead to urinary incontinence.
Potential causes of urinary incontinence are numerous: spinal trauma, anatomical changes, inherited defects, infections, urinary stones, and diabetes all can be underlying causes of incontinence. In these cases, treatment is geared toward curing the disease if possible.
Urinary tract infections can cause dogs to urinate frequently because of the bacterial irritation to the bladder wall. Other conditions of the urinary tract that may cause incontinence are bladder polyps and kidney stones. Advanced Lyme disease can cause loss of bladder control.
Diagnosis of the urinary incontinence involves urine and blood test and X-rays of the urinary tract.
Conventional therapy uses estrogen and testosterone but because of the side effects these hormones are not usually the first choice. Using phenylpropanolamine is believed to be a safer first-choice alternative and can be used for long-term control without side effects.
In case of urinary stones surgery is the only effective treatment to remove large bladder stones and allow normal urination. Dietary therapy can help dissolve small stones that cause minor interference with urine flow.
Diuretic herbs (parsley cornsilk dandelion) help promote urination and stop stone forming. GAG (glycosaminoglycans) promotes healing in the lining of the bladder. Diuretic herbs and increased water intake are helpful to human patients with this problem because they tone and nourish the urinary tract and this works just as well in animals. Withholding water does not cure urinary incontinence! Give your pet large quantities of water with diuretic herbs, take him for frequent walks, give him active physical exercise and a good walk just before bedtime, and be patient.
Dermatitis in the genital and hind leg regions can also be seen as a result of incontinence and urine scalding in these areas. Calendula ointment is protective and soothing to the irritated skin.
In cats urinary incontinence is often associated with Feline Urologic Syndrome when the repeatedly distended bladder loses the ability to contract and empty.