Older female dog may have urinary incontinence

When an older female dog uncharacteristically urinates in the house, veterinarian Linda Janowitz writes that several potential causes should be considered, including kidney disease, diabetes, a urinary tract infection and urinary incontinence — a weakening of the bladder sphincter caused by a lack of estrogen in older spayed dogs. A veterinarian can determine the cause and treatment after examining the dog, Dr. Janowitz notes.

Several possibilities could explain your dog’s behavior. She could have a urinary tract infection, which can make her urinate more often, and she may not be able to hold it until she gets outside. That would be the best-case scenario as it is usually easy to treat with antibiotics.

Other conditions can also be an issue with an elderly dog. I would want to rule out diabetes and kidney disease. With both of these conditions, you would probably see her drinking more water and urinating more in general.

Last, but perhaps most importantly, your dog may have hormonal incontinence. In spayed female dogs, especially as they age, the lack of estrogen can cause the urinary sphincter to become weak. Often these dogs will leak urine in their beds. A combination of factors may be contributing to your dog’s behavior.

You could also be right about the cold weather. It could be the only reason for her behavior or a contributing factor. I would recommend first scheduling a visit with your veterinarian for blood work and a urinalysis to rule out many conditions that cause increased urination.

If your dog’s problem doesn’t have a medical cause, try using puppy pads placed in convenient locations on colder days. It might help if you try to associate a word command with urinating, so she knows what you expect when you go outside. When she does urinate, use the word and praise her. You could also reward her with a treat when she urinates outside.

Linda Janowitz, DVM, is the director of veterinary medicine with the Peninsula Humane Society and SPCA.

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