Q: I have been finding my dog’s bed is wet in the morning for a couple of weeks. I used to notice this a few times a month, but now it is every day. Sandy seems to feel great, but she acts like she may not even know it’s happening. Could she be incontinent? R.S., Farragut
A: Yes, Sandy could be urinary incontinent, and it is more likely to occur in females than males. To investigate this, your veterinarian will need more information.
Pets suspected of urinary incontinence should have a thorough history taken, physical exam performed and urinalysis. Urinary tract infections and/or bladder stones can occur, and your veterinarian will want to rule that out. Based on those results, your veterinarian may speak to you about a urine culture, blood tests and potentially X-rays or ultrasounds of the bladder/kidneys.
Age is an important consideration. Middle- aged and older dogs are more likely to have incontinence compared to puppies and young adults. If Sandy is spayed, she could have developed an estrogen responsive urinary incontinence. There is medication to help if that’s the case.
If Sandy is an older dog, there are more factors to consider. Diabetes and chronic kidney disease can increase urination frequency and mimic incontinence. Pets can have abnormal urination patterns related to back or pelvic pain.
Age-related brain changes, similar to dementia, can also cause abnormal urination patterns, as can cancer in the urinary tract system.
If Sandy has normal tests and no prior medical issues, incontinence is a real possibility for Sandy. The problem could be with her sphincter or bladder muscle itself. There are medications that can help. Lifelong treatment is typical.
Depending on the problem, surgery may be an option if medical therapy fails.
If you have questions about your dog, e-mail Dr. Myers at email@example.com