Cap Region Pets

Ask the expert: Is my dog losing bladder control?

Q: My old dog has been having pee-pee accidents. She was always really good and went outside, but now I have found spots all around the house and even in her bed. I never see her do it, but several times I have found wet spots under her when she gets up. She seems normal and eats well and plays with her toys. Should I put diapers on her?

A: It sounds like she is having lots of urinary accidents. She may have an infection or bladder stones. Your veterinarian can do an exam and analyze a urine sample to determine if she has a problem. They can start her on an appropriate antibiotic to clear up the infection.

Unfortunately, when dogs are leaking urine where they are lying it is generally not an infection. Urinary incontinence is when a dog dribbles urine unintentionally. It usually happens when they are sleeping. Spayed females are more likely to develop this problem, but it can also happen with males and females that are not spayed.

If her exam and urinalysis are normal, your veterinarian may start her on medication to stop the urine leaking. There are currently two medications approved by the FDA for urinary incontinence in dogs. Proin has been around the longest, but it has recently been made a controlled drug.

Incurin is another drug that works well for urinary incontinence and was approved by the FDA a few years ago. It has been used in Europe for many years and was found to be very safe and efficacious. Clinical trials are going on for another promising drug for canine incontinence.

You can use diapers until you get a diagnosis and start on medication. While many dogs will adapt to diapers being placed on them, it increases their chance of getting a urinary infection. Be sure to change the diaper frequently and keep her hair clipped short under her tail in the perineal area. Groomers call this a sanitary shave.

Your veterinarian can help you determine which treatment will be best for your dog.

Dr. Susan M. Baker received her degree at the University of Florida in 1985 and practices veterinary medicine in Palm Beach County, Florida.