Dogs can be incontinent

Ask the Vet

Q: Lately, my dog’s bed has been wet every morning when she wakes up. Layla has done this a few times before, but now it is every day. Sometimes it seems like she doesn’t even know that it has happened. She has been perfectly house trained since we got her 5 years ago. Could she be incontinent? P.L, Farragut

A: Yes, Layla could be incontinent. Urinary incontinence does occur in dogs, and it is more likely to occur in females compared to males. To learn more, your veterinarian is going to need more information.

Our pets can’t talk to tell us what and how they are feeling, so pets suspected of urinary incontinence should have at least a physical exam and urinalysis. Based on those results, your vet may talk to you about a urine culture, blood tests, X-rays and/or ultrasounds of the bladder and kidneys.

Urinary tract infections and/or bladder stones could cause Layla’s symptoms, and your veterinarian will want to rule this out.

In older dogs, we can see abnormal urination patterns as a response to pain; dogs with spinal or hip arthritis can be reluctant to get up, and thus urinate in their bed.

Other possibilities in older dogs included senility and even cancer in the urinary tract system.

If tests show that Layla does not have any of these medical issues, urinary incontinence is a real possibility. Some female dogs develop an estrogen responsive urinary incontinence.

The problem could also be with her sphincter or the bladder muscle itself. There is medication that can help, and it will typically need to be given for life. Best of luck with Layla.

If you have questions about your pet, e-mail them to Dr. Myers at