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Urinary Incontinence in Dogs

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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Treatment In-depth

Treatment of urinary incontinence is based on the cause of the condition and other factors that must be analyzed by your veterinarian. There are several potential causes of urinary incontinence, and it is necessary to identify a specific cause to provide optimal therapy. Treatments may include the following:

  • Sphincter mechanism incompetence in middle-aged, medium to large breed spayed female dogs may be treated with drugs such as phenylpropanolamine.

  • Hormone therapy with estrogens such as diethylstilbestrol may be used in some cases.

  • An over-active bladder muscle (detrusor hyperreflexia) can be treated with smooth muscle relaxant drugs such as propantheline.

  • Urethral spasm causing functional obstruction of the bladder can be treated with the smooth muscle relaxant drug phenoxybenzamine.

  • Functional obstruction caused by incoordination of the bladder and urethra, such as a bladder contracting against a closed urethra, also called reflex dyssynergia, can be treated with the smooth muscle relaxant drug phenoxybenzamine and bladder smooth muscle stimulant bethanecol.

  • Urinary incontinence in neutered male dogs sometimes can be treated effectively with testosterone injections.

  • In severe cases of weakened bladder muscle, it may be necessary to place an indwelling urinary catheter to keep the bladder empty for a prolonged time (7 to 14 days) during which recovery of bladder function can occur.

  • A more permanent drainage device, a cystostomy tube, can be placed surgically to allow manual drainage of the pet's bladder by the owner. This procedure is sometimes performed in pets with obstruction of the bladder by cancer.

  • Ectopic ureters are treated by surgical repositioning, but this procedure does not always correct incontinence and drug therapy may be required after surgery.

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