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Spay Incontinence in Female Dogs - What it Is, What You Can Do

Spay incontinence in female dogs is fairly common in dogs especially middle-aged and older spayed female dogs. You may assume that spay incontinence is something that happens in old age and; there’s absolutely nothing that can be done about it.

"Urinary incontinence is fairly common in middle-aged and older spayed female dogs."

But it is often an easy problem to solve - if you know the basics and how to properly manage it. Have you noticed your female dog suddenly dribbling urine while walking up a flight of stairs or in her sleep? Have you noticed her suddenly leaking after undergoing a spay surgery? It might be that your fur-princess is experiencing spay incontinence.

What Causes Spay Incontinence in Female Dogs?

Spay incontinence can be caused by many different things. It can be because of, but not limited to:

  • Development of bladder infections, stones, polyps or tumors
  • Overflow incontinence - this occurs when your fur-baby is greatly affected by another medical condition, such as diabetes and Cushing’s disease, that causes her to drink excessively
  • Spinal cord injury, disease or sudden abnormal developments
  • Developmental urinary tract abnormalities, including ectopic ureters and vaginal strictures
  • And the most common cause, which is a weakened bladder (urethral) sphincters in spayed female dogs, also known as estrogen-responsive or spay incontinence

This happens because after a female dog is spayed, the strength of her urethral sphincter decreases in the years following her surgery. As she gets older, this decrease of strength of the urethral sphincter only worsens. This is so because the decline in the estrogen levels after spaying may cause a decrease in the functions of the urethral sphincter and its supporting tissues. According to studies, roughly about 20% of spayed female dogs will develop incontinence within three years of being spayed.

But as they say, all dogs are different. Large breed dogs are more likely to develop spay incontinence than small dogs. Also, dogs who are spayed before their first heat have a lower chance of developing spay incontinence in female dogs, however, the veterinary community currently believes that spaying before three months of age may increase the potential of its development.

It’s important to mention that spaying your female dog is very beneficial to her health. Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast cancer, which is fatal in about 50 percent of dogs. So, while you may be concerned about a potential incontinence issue, those can be solved much easier than a more serious disease.

On the brighter side, spaying does not only offer incontinence for your fur-princess. As a matter of fact, spaying actually offers a lot of benefits for you and your fur-baby.

  • Spaying reduces the risks of your female dog from acquiring illnesses like mammary gland cancer, pyometra, and infections in the uterus.
  • Spaying also saves you from the stress of dealing with male dogs who try all ways to get to your female dog.
  • Since spaying no longer puts your dog into heat, you are saved from worrying about your female dog from escaping home to find a mate.

Diagnosing Incontinence

If you are noticing your female dog is having more accidents, you may want to take her to her veterinarian. The veterinarian will then perform exams like urinalysis and a urine culture. These exams are important because the urinalysis will uncover any other health issues that may be going on that could be causing your dog to over-consume water.

Your vet may also recommend complete blood work and, depending on your dog’s age, x-rays or ultrasound to make a definitive diagnosis. These will help rule out bladder stones and cancer.

How Do You Treat Spay Incontinence?

Dog Belly Bands

Treatment for spay incontinence in female dogs depends greatly on what's causing it. Urethral sphincter strength can often be improved with medication. In fact, according to studies, roughly 50 – 60% of incontinent spayed female dogs respond well to estrogen therapy for added urethral sphincter strength.

There are also non-hormonal treatments that strengthen the urethra. Phenylpropanolamine (PPA) is one such treatment and about 85 to 90% of spayed female dogs have shown an excellent response to it.

For those dogs who experience adverse side effects to these medications, there are other procedures including collagen or bulking injections around the urethral sphincter, surgical implantation of a urethral occluder and certain bladder and urethral tacking surgeries.

As each dog is different and will respond differently to treatments, you and your veterinarian will have to use a trial and error approach to see what works best for your fur-baby. Until you find a treatment that works, your best bet is to use doggy diapers. As you fine-tune your medical game plan, these will help to keep your home clean, know when and where your pup goes and will save them from the "I'm sorry" tail tuck.

Pet Parents® doggie diapers are washable and durable and come in a variety of sizes and colors. Your good girl can rock bold colors like pink and purple or choose stealth mode with the natural, blend-with-the-fur colors of black, grey, and rust. Have any questions about how to fit your fur baby for a diaper? Get in touch with us.

In this challenging time, it is also a must to always aware of your dog's nutritional needs. Provide Pet Parents® Dog Multivitamin. with a variety of vitamins and nutrients that will help meet your dog's nutritional needs while trying to recover from spay incontinence in female dogs. You can also give Pet Parents® Supplements for Bladder and Kidney Support for your incontinent female. It contains pumpkin seed extract that greatly supports proper bladder muscle function.

Spay incontinence in female dogs can feel like the end of the world for you and your pup, and in these trying times, your fur-baby will never be able to make it through without you.

So as a responsible pet parent, always remember that there are always ways to identify, prevent, and treat it.

Because who wouldn't want to continue living a happier and healthier life (even with spay incontinence) with the fur-love of their loves? Right?

"Roughly 50 – 60% of incontinent spayed female dogs respond well to estrogen therapy"

The Author:

Micka V.

Micka Virtudazo is a full-time content creator at Pet Parents who lives with thirteen adorable American Bullies and a Shih Tzu-Maltese mix named Gretel. She especially enjoys writing how-to articles as she feels through this she can connect to other pet parents on a more personal level.

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