Lack of Bladder Control in Dogs

PetMD Editorial
By PetMD Editorial
Published: July 2, 2008
Lack of Bladder Control in Dogs

Urinary Incontinence in Dogs

Dogs are sometimes unable to control their bladder activity, a medical condition that is often caused by an impaired bladder, or from an obstruction in the bladder. This disorder is medically referred to as incontinence. Incontinence is more common in middle to older-aged dogs, and in larger dog breeds.


  • Urine leakage (involuntary peeing)
  • Wet hair on the lower abdominal area, or between the rear legs
  • Wet spots or puddles in the bedding or sleeping area
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Inflammation of the skin around the genitals
  • Moist tissue areas around the penis or vulva


Obesity is a common risk factor for incontinence in dogs. Neutering is also one of the primary risk factors for incontinence, however, most animals do not develop any medical disorders as a result of neutering; complications are uncommon. If there is incontinence related to neutering, it will be temporary, as the dog learns to control its urinary muscles again during the recovery process . Other causes for incontinence may include:

  • Disruption of the nerves around the bladder
  • Lesions on the spinal cord
  • Lesions in the brain
  • Overactive bladder syndrome
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Chronic inflammatory disease
  • Pressure on the bladder caused by a mass
  • Underdevelopment of the bladder or other birth defects


The veterinarian will review and address the causes for the incontinence, so that a treatment plan can be appropriately prescribed. In most cases, prescribed medication will resolve the issue.


If the condition can be treated with medication, there are several options available. Antibiotics are used if the incontinence is due to inflammation of the urinary tract or bladder. Incontinence caused by obesity will require a weight management plan and possibly dietary supplements.

For serious medical cases, surgery may be performed to remove an obstruction in the bladder or tract, or for reparation of the bladder or urinary tract.

Living and Management 

Most dogs suffering from incontinence will respond well to medications and will have a full recovery. Inflammation is one of the most common issues associated with this medical condition, but it, too, can be treated with topical ointments and antibiotics.


There are currently no known preventative measures for this medical condition.

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