Causes of Incontinence in a Female Dog

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    • Incontinence can happen to dogs of all ages.The dog image by Beausoir from

      Incontinence is the involuntary passage of urine. There are several reasons a female dog may experience incontinence. This is not the same as inappropriate urination or submissive urination. Inappropriate urination is a behavior issue and submissive urination is usually seen when a dog is scared. Many dogs with incontinence also can urinate normally. It is important to work with your veterinarian to determine the cause, diagnosis and treatment right for your dog.


    • The first things to watch for are dribbling of urine, wet spots where your pet sleeps, and irritated skin from contact with urine. When your housebroken pet starts urinating in the house, you need to determine: is she leaking urine continuously or only when resting; is there more or less urine that before; has there been a recent illness; is her coordination poor; is she lethargic. The answers to these questions will help your vet determine if this new development is medical or behavioral and whether it is related to an illness or a urinary issue.


    • When a young dog experiences incontinence, it can be an inherited condition. The most common birth defect is ectopic ureter. The ureter carries urine from the kidneys to the bladder. When the ureter connects to an abnormal location, bypassing the bladder, the puppy can drip urine. Certain breeds are more susceptible to these hereditary conditions, with the Siberian Husky being the most commonly affected. The other breeds are the miniature poodle, Labrador retriever, collie, Welsh corgi, wire-haired fox terrier, and West Highland white terrier.


    • Hormonal incontinence more often happens in female dogs who have been spayed, but can occur in neutered males as well. When a female dog is spayed, her ovaries are removed. This causes a lack of estrogen, which can result in the weakening of the urinary sphincter. Dogs with hormonal incontinence urinate normally when awake, but leak urine when resting. This type of incontinence can start months or years after the dog has been spayed.

    Visit Your Vet

    • Incontinence in a puppy or a previously housebroken dog requires a visit to the veterinarian. The reason for the incontinence needs to be established. There are illnesses and diseases of which incontinence is a symptom and these need to be ruled out. Dogs can also become incontinent as they age. Once the cause is established, a treatment plan can be designed for your dog.

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