Help! My Dog is Incontinent!
Finding natural incontinent dog solutions can be tough. When dealing with dog urinary incontinence, natural remedies are not the first thing most vets will suggest.
Most vets will advise using Phenylpropanolamine (Proin), a drug that helps strengthen the urinary sphincter muscle or diethylstilbestrol (DES), a hormone replacement therapy. Both of these drugs, however, carry the risk of significant side effects.
These side effects are what made me pause and do some research when my dog Rose started leaking urine. For Rose, it happened when she was sleeping, or when she got up from her bed. Other dogs drip urine as they move around.
What Rose was experiencing is not uncommon: dog incontinence while sleeping or moving around is a common scenario. Many times, incontinence has a sudden onset: people notice their dog leaking urine out of the blue and have no idea what is causing it.
I read everything I could find online, both about the causes and the treatments. The more I read about the conventional drug treatment’s side effects, the more I wanted to try to find a natural solution that targeted the cause and not just the symptoms.
This article combines what I have learned researching dog incontinence solutions to give you a comprehensive overview of the causes and natural treatment options.
Causes of Dog Incontinence
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Dog incontinence can stem from a variety of issues. Female dog incontinence is most common, but it occurs in male dogs as well.
Muscle weakness in the bladder sphincter muscle can be the reason urine is leaking, but the root cause of the weakness is what needs to be investigated.
Your natural vet will consider a variety of causes:
- Back Injury: Incontinence can be a result of a recent back injury, or a back injury tracing back to overstretching the spine during the spay operation. Injured back muscles tighten and encroach on nerves controlling the bladder sphincter muscle.
- Hormone induced urinary incontinence: Most hormone induced urinary incontinence occurs in female dogs. Low estrogen in dogs can be a result of spay surgery, but low levels also occur naturally as the dog ages. These low levels affect the muscles in the urinary tract.
- Over Intense Exercise: Some dogs may experience incontinence after exercising. Too much, too intense, or the wrong kind of exercise can exacerbate back and/or muscle issues that cause incontinence.
What to Do Before Treating Dog Incontinence
Before trying any dog incontinence treatment, the first thing you need to do is take your dog to your vet to rule out any possible causes that would require medical attention.
Your vet visit should include:
- A thorough physical exam
- Urinalysis: In addition to measuring kidney function, this test will make sure your dog doesn’t have a urinary tract infection (UTI), which can cause incontinence.
- Blood tests: Your vet should run a complete blood count, a blood chemistry, and a thyroid test.
Next, I would strongly recommend a visit to a chiropractor. If spinal alignment or muscle spasms are causing your dog’s incontinence, this visit (and recommended follow ups) may take care of the problem.
If these visits don’t uncover an underlying issue, you will have to choose which treatment/approach you want to take for your dog’s incontinence. If you have a natural vet you can discuss natural treatment options with them.
Natural Treatment Options for Dog Urinary Incontinence
Important Disclaimer: I am not a vet. Not even close. I’m just sharing my own personal experience and information I have read. If you think you want to try something you read about here, talk to your vet! But first read this and many more articles to empower yourself for a good discussion in which you can ask your vet great questions about what you want to try.
Knowledge is power – never forget that!
If you choose to treat your dog’s incontinence with natural remedies, kudos to you! As with all natural treatments, be aware it can take a few weeks or months to see results. The advantage, however, is that there are fewer side effects – most have none.
Using apple cider vinegar for dog incontinence is surprisingly common. One person gave her dog a slice of bread soaked in apple cider vinegar daily and her dog leaked less and less until it completely stopped. Another person added a few capfuls of apple cider vinegar to her dog’s water each day.
Be aware that dosage is important. Too much apple cider vinegar can make your dog’s urine pH too alkaline, which can cause other issues. Also, be sure to buy unpasteurized apple cider vinegar that contains the “mother” or it won’t have the healthy properties you need.
If you want to learn more about apple cider vinegar check out my article 9 Surprising Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar for dogs.
Cranberry concentrate (most commonly found in capsule form) can help to sooth UTI symptoms while encouraging healthy urinary tract function and providing healthy bladder support. It isn’t known for stopping incontinence, but I wanted to mention it as it’s a staple for urinary tract health.
Urinary and Kidney Relief is something I’ve added to my dog’s daily regimen only recently. Incontinence for her has been a “two steps forward, one step back” process – I’ll make headway with a chiropractic adjustment or supplement, then a few months later will notice leakage starting again.
I started Kidney Bladder Relief after my dog regressed and was leaking so much we started using diapers again. After about 4 weeks on this product the leaking subsided then completely disappeared. We are going on 3 months of her being TOTALLY dry!
I ran out at one point and she start to leak a small amount again, so I can tell that the herbs in this product are really making a difference.
Symplex F (this link takes you to a page where you can find a practitioner who sells it) is a glandular product that supports the adrenal, pituitary, ovary, and thyroid glands. Although a spayed female’s ovaries are removed, the adrenal glands do secrete estrogen in small amounts, and may also secrete substances that help support and stimulate the urethra muscles.
If you can’t find a practitioner near you, you could try Googling it and see if you find a practitioner willing to ship it.
I first read about using Symplex F and Vasculin (next section) in a case study by Arthur Freedman, DVM titled “Nutritional Support for a Case of Canine Urinary Incontinence.” He details a case study of a 10 year old golden retriever with urinary incontinence. Both Proin and DES (conventional drugs) had not helped, and Proin had caused hypertension.
As a last resort they tried Symplex-F. Their golden’s incontinence subsided and was almost completely controlled. The case study contains a detailed explanation of how Symplex-F helps incontinence.
If you are considering Symplex-F, Standard Process unfortunately no longer publishes their dosage chart. I would recommend emailing their customer service at [email protected].
Freeman’s article also mentions that in certain cases it is helpful to combine Symplex-F with a product called Vasculin. Vasculin contains components that support muscles as well as B complex vitamins which enhance nerve conduction.
The Vasculin dosage is unfortunately no longer listed online, I would email Standard Process at [email protected] to see if they will tell you the right dosage for your dog’s body weight.
Dr Peter Dobias has a great article on incontinent dog solutions titled “Natural Treatment of Urinary Incontinence in Dogs.” The article does a great job of helping natural pet owners understand reasons behind dog incontinence and why conventional medications not only ignore the root issue, but have horrible side effects. He sells a homeopathic remedy he calls Incontia. Incontia includes Phosphoric Acid 1M as well as a detailed protocol to help with symptoms of incontinence.
For some dog owners, a chiropractic visit may identify alignment problems that, when adjusted, reduce pressure and swelling on nerves controlling the bladder muscles and thus help with their dog’s incontinence.
This isn’t a solution, but dog diapers can be a lifesaver while you are trying different home remedies for dog urinary incontinence and waiting to see if they work. I buy 6 of them, and when I get down to the last clean one I put that on my dog and throw the rest in the washer on a sanitize cycle with a tablespoon of neutralizer concentrate and soap.
I use these diapers and have been very satisfied with their performance.
This is the product I use if I have a urine smell in a carpet or rug that I can’t get out. It is very strong smelling (floral), but the ingredients are water, proprietary essential oil blend, and preservatives, so the strong smell is not from artificial fragrance. It is also biodegradable and non-toxic.
Because it is is concentrate one container lasts a really long time.
I also use BAC-OUT, an enzymatic stain and odor remover. I haven’t had luck using it for strong urine smells, but it has worked well on poop smells and on yellow stomach bile stains from pet vomit.
(A Fancy Title for “My Dog’s Incontinence – What Worked & What Didn’t”)
Rose is an 12-year-old Sheltie/Golden Retriever mix that we adopted at age 1. In her middle-aged years, she had two incidences of leaking urine that were caused by ingesting toxic food.
The first time she ate double-chocolate cookies that my kids had left out on the counter to cool when no one was home. The cat pushed the cooling rack off the counter and Rose capitalized on the opportunity. (believe me, the kids received one very crabby lecture…) By the time we got home it was too late to induce vomiting.
Although we knew she hadn’t eaten enough to be life threatening, she did become incontinent for about 2 days (something that can happen with chocolate ingestion in dogs) then returned to normal.
The second time the same cat (notice a trend here?) managed to climb from a stool into our flip-top garbage can in the middle of the night and eventually tipped it over. Again, Rose capitalized on the garbage diving opportunity and ingested some coffee grounds (also toxic, just like chocolate). Same thing happened, 2 days of incontinence.
Fast forward to this year. Rose is 12, possibly older, and started leaking urine on a regular basis, mostly when she got up from lying down. At the vet, blood counts and urine test showed all normal readings.
A visit to the chiropractor revealed some minor misalignments, but after a few visits I knew that was not going to be the sole cure, perhaps just a piece of the puzzle.
My vet, who is open to holistic but his knowledge is conventional, recommended Proin. I began to read everything I could find on incontinent dog solutions.
Finding a Solution
Dr. Dobias’s “Natural Treatment of Urinary Incontinence in Dogs” was my “ah-ha” moment. It changed my way of looking at dog incontinence and gave me hope that it could be stopped without a prescription.
I already was adding apple cider vinegar to Rose’s food each day so I knew that wouldn’t be the right solution for her. I decided to try “Incontia” to see if it would help. The leaking got much better, but did not disappear completely. This improvement showed me, however, that I was on the right track!
I continued to scour the internet for studies and articles discussing alternative dog urinary incontinence treatments, and read about Standard Process Symplex F and Vasculin. I decided to add both to her food daily in order to support her glandular system and urinary muscles. Within a month the leakage had stopped!
For Rose, I think her incontinence had multiple triggers that were stacked. Age, low estrogen, damage from her chocolate/coffee eating incidents, back muscle/alignment issues – all probably contributed to her incontinence.
Rose still has infrequent setbacks, and as she ages the setback leakage lasts a little longer. We keep trying new things and on days when she is dripping I put a diaper on her.
Dog Urinary Incontinence:
Natural Remedies Can Work!
It’s important to remember that if you are dealing with dog urinary incontinence, natural remedies may take longer, but they are so much less risky for your dog that for me, it was worth the trade-off.
The best dog incontinence solution(s) are going to be different for each dog. You may have to try a number of remedies before finding one that helps.
I was SO grateful to be able to stop incontinence without pharmaceutical drugs – google “proin side effects” and you will see why.
I have friends who have tried Proin, experienced success for awhile, then it stopped working. They had to keep increasing the dose – not an uncommon scenario.
Have you found a dog incontinence remedy that worked for your dog? Tell us your story in the comments below: you never know when your solution will change another dog’s life.
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