Not all dogs that have pee accidents in the house are dirty dogs. Canine urinary incontinence is one of the most given reasons dogs end up in animal shelters. In fact, dog urinary incontinence is how we came to have Lilly.

Causes of canine urinary incontinence


There are several things that can cause urinary incontinence in dogs. It isn’t always a behavioral problem. Frequently, dogs with incontinence urinate involuntarily and are often unaware of what is happening. Some dog incontinence issues are chronic and long-term while others are acute and short-term. An acute issue is often caused by a urinary infection in the dog. Canine urinary infections are easily treated with antibiotics.

Another acute dog urinary incontinence issue can be caused by struvite crystals forming in the dogs urine. Struvite crystals irritate the urinary tract and cause frequent urination. Crystals can become bladder stones and a chronic issue if not treated. While your veterinarian can treat crystals, you can save money and treat the crystals yourself with a simple change to a high quality dog food.

Dog foods with a high ash content are known to cause struvite crystals. Dog foods with a high protein content can also present a problem with crystal formation. Even some high quality dog foods can present an issue. Lilly forms struvite crystals when we feed her Canidae. We no longer use Canidae due to the issues with struvite crystals in Lilly.

When to seek help from your veterinarian for your dogs urinary incontinence

If a change in diet to a high quality, low protein, low ash and mineral content dog food doesn’t cure your dogs urinary incontinence, it is time to see your veterinarian. It is possible your dog has formed bladder stones. Anytime your dogs urine is cloudy or blood tinged seek help. Also, if your dog appears to be having trouble or pain while urinating you need to contact your veterinarian.

Canine incontinence drugs

Sometimes your dog may require a prescription even with a high quality diet. Lilly is such a dog. Even though we feed her the best food possible, she needs her “peeps pill” for a 100% cure. Lilly is prescribed Proin (Phenylpropanolamine), also marketed under brand name Propalin, which improves the tone of the sphincter muscles, particularly the urethra and the bladder neck. This drug is very effective for dogs that leak urine. Lilly would frequently wake up with a small puddle near her hind end. This was obviously an issue where her muscles used to contain herself didn’t work properly. This drug strengthens those muscles.

The number one thought to keep in mind is not all dog incontinence problems are behavioral. A change in diet should be your first step in trying to tackle a dog urine issue. If the dog incontinence continues, contact your veterinarian to have the urine sampled for issues such as a urinary infection in your dog. With a little effort, canine urinary incontinence is treatable.

Words of author

The purpose of this article was more along the line of showing incontinence isn’t usually a behavioral issue. We also wanted to point out there are solutions. Even if the cause is related to an early spay or a spay where the bladder was affected etc., treating with a change in diet along with medication can successfully mitigate the problem.

Lilly, the dog in the post, was most likely a case of a spay gone bad. We certainly don’t want anyone not having their animal spayed due to the possibility of them becoming incontinent. We encourage everyone to have their animals spayed/neutered. The timing of the procedure is between the pet parent and their veterinarian.

Even though Lilly’s issue was most likely due to a spay issue, diet has a direct effect on exacerbating her condition. She also will be taking medication for the duration of her life. It is a shame veterinarians aren’t taught enough about nutrition in school. What they are taught is frequently subsidized by Hills, the maker of Science Diet. Unfortunately, Science Diet doesn’t measure up compared to quality foods. Ash content of dog food has a direct effect on exacerbating incontinence. Any diet that is causing the formation of crystals will cause a relapse of incontinence issues as well.

So, no matter what originally caused the issue, we stand by our treatment steps that include changing the dog’s diet first. We believe by changing to a truly high quality food, there will be far less pets banished to the backyard and/or dumped at shelters.