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Urinary Incontinence in Dogs

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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Diagnosis In-depth

Certain diagnostic tests must be performed to confirm the diagnosis of urinary incontinence and exclude other diseases that may cause similar symptoms, such as bacterial infection, stones or calculi, or prostatic disease in male dogs. Tests may include:

  • Complete medical history. The medical history may include questions about reproductive status (intact or neutered), urine dribbling during sleep or where the pet is lying, change in water consumption or urine production, presence of other illness, history of trauma, gait abnormalities that could suggest neurologic disease, blood in the urine, increased frequency of urination, history of urinary tract infections, previous drug therapy, constipation, and presence of behavioral problems.

  • Physical examination including palpation of the abdomen, rectal examination in male dogs to evaluate the prostate gland, and vaginal examination in females

  • Urinalysis to evaluate for white cells, red cells, or bacteria

  • Urine culture and sensitivity to evaluate for the presence of bacterial urinary tract infection

  • A complete blood count and serum biochemistry tests to evaluate the pet's general health and other body systems

  • Plain abdominal X-rays to evaluate for stones

    Your veterinarian may recommend additional diagnostic tests to exclude or diagnose other conditions if preliminary tests do not yield a diagnosis, or to understand the impact of urinary incontinence on your pet. These tests are selected on a case-by-case basis. Examples include:

  • Urinary catheterization to determine the amount of urine remaining in the bladder after the pet has attempted to urinate and to identify any obstruction

  • Prostatic fluid analysis to evaluate for prostatitis in male dogs

  • Contrast dye radiographic studies, such as cystourethrogram to evaluate the bladder and urethra, intravenous pyelogram or excretory urography to evaluate the kidneys and ureters.

  • Ultrasound examination, a technique in which internal organs are visualized by recording reflections of ultrasonic waves directed into tissues, to evaluate for stones, tumors or obstruction.

  • Urethrocystoscopy, a technique in which a rigid or flexible scope is passed into the vagina, urethra and bladder of females for direct visualization, to identify anatomic abnormalities, stones, or tumors. This procedure usually requires referral to a specialist.

  • In difficult cases, special physiologic studies of urination, like urethral pressure profile or cystometrogram, to evaluate nervous control of urination. These tests require referral to a specialist.

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