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Senior Dog Incontinence and how to Deal With it

As dogs age, so do their minds and bodies. Senior dog incontinence is a common thing that happens to our aging friends. It is frustrating to dog parents because we’re having to tend to puddles of pee around the house from our 15 year old good boy who never peed in the house before. It is frustrating to our dogs because all they want to do is please us and they know going potty in the house is bad, but they can’t control it.

What is Incontinence?

Incontinence is the inability to control urination and/or stool elimination.

You might notice some wet dribble spots around the house. When your dog wakes up from a nap you may find the area they were laying in is wet with urine. Your dog may be licking themselves clean more often. These are indications of incontinence.

Is it incontinence or something else?

Is your dog actually incontinent or is he just having accidents in the house? There is a difference. Incontinence is something that your dog can’t control. Accidents in the house may be due to a need to potty more often due to excess water intake.

Is your bud drinking more water than usual? This is something that you want to watch for. An increased need for water can be a sign of health conditions that should be assessed by your vet.

This was Addie’s problem. She was drinking so much water that she was actually having accidents in her bed. Her little legs hurt her so much that she, often, wouldn’t even go outside to try and potty. I hadn’t noticed her frequent trips to the water bowl until we got the kidney failure diagnosis.

What Causes Incontinence in Senior Dogs?

While incontinence is pretty common in senior dogs it can also be an indication that something isn’t quite right in his body. Many things could play a role in your dogs inability to control his bladder including:

  • A hormonal imbalance
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Urinary stones
  • Use of some medications
  • Changes in your dogs mental state
  • Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (similar to dementia)
  • Excess water intake due to kidney failure, diabetes or cushing’s disease

Is there treatment for Incontinence?

Depending on what is causing your dogs incontinence, there may be treatment available for you. There are medications available to help with incontinence. Be sure to ask your vet about it to see if your dog is a good candidate.

If the incontinence is kidney stone related, you can support them by feeding them food that isn’t as likely to cause the stones or adding in supplements to help try to prevent it.

Treating the underlying condition, though, will always be your first move. They may only need something as simple as an antibiotic to treat a UTI.

What can you do at home?

The big question. What can we do about potty accidents in the house?

First things first.. we have to remember that if this is truly incontinence, your dog can’t help it. He is just as frustrated as you are with the accidents. He doesn’t understand why it is happening- but he knows that he is being a bad boy when he does it.

Things you can do to help your dog:

  • Frequent potty breaks. Take your dog outside a bit more than you usually do. Encourage him to empty his bladder whenever possible. Move his bed closer to the door so he doesn’t have to go far to alert at the door or use a doggie door when he has to go.
  • Reusable adult bed pads. These pads are a life saver for me. They are big and hold a ton of liquid. When they are soiled, I throw them in the washing machine and then the dryer. I’ve used the same pads for four years now. They’re soft enough to use in the dogs bed, even, if you are having issues there. The adult bed pads are cheaper than puppy pads.
  • Disposable adult bed pads. Just as the reusable ones, these disposable pads are cheaper than puppy pads and much cheaper. They are bigger and hold more liquid.
  • Dog diapers/belly bands. Believe it or not, there are dog diapers. These are helpful for our dribbling friends. The diapers fit the dogs with a hole for their tail. It’s honestly super cute. These are made disposable as well as reusable. Belly bands are just that, belly bands. They fasten around a male dogs belly and catch the urine. Very easy to secure. We used them on our goats when they were babies in the house.
  • Pet urine odor and stain remover. This will be a must for you. While vinegar is great for getting rid of odors, sometimes it just doesn’t do for large amounts of urine. Personally, I use Odoban. I swear by this stuff. I spray it in our litter box and use it for multiple surfaces around the house. I also throw some in the washer when I’m washing our dog towels and reusable pads. It’s just an all around great product and it’s inexpensive. Another product I like is Resolve Urine Destroyer. It does very well with cat and dog urine odors.

Love your incontinent senior dog

Remember, your buddy isn’t a pup anymore. He’s older and as he ages things will get a bit more complicated. Keep in mind that this won’t last forever and one day you will realize how insignificant the pee is compared to how you feel in his absence.

Get your dog to a vet and make sure his issues aren’t related to something that can be easily fixed with medication.

Get some pads and make things easier for the both of you. Instead of stressing about constantly having to clean up urine, focus on ways to keep the areas your dog is in as “pee friendly” as you can. And love on your dog.

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