Dog Urinary Incontinence: Natural Remedies that Work

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Help! My Dog is Incontinent!

Dismayed girl because dog is leaking urine
photo by Andre Guerra

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

**Note: this post contains affiliate links. No one paid me to recommend these products, I recommend them because I like them. However, using the link to buy the products helps support happynaturaldog.com! **

Woman trying to find dog urinary incontinence natural remedies on computer

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

stop sign with lizard

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:

  1. A thorough physical exam
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Apple Cider Vinegar

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.

apple cider vinegar for dog urinary incontinence natural remedy
Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar

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 extract pill bottle for dog UTIs

Cranberry

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.

STandard process symplex f

Symplex F by Standard Process

Symplex F 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.

I first read about using Simplex 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 Simplex-F. Their golden’s incontinence subsided and was almost completely controlled. The case study contains a detailed explanation of how Simplex-F helps incontinence.

If you are considering Simplex-F, Standard Process has a dosage resource at https://www.standardprocess.com/Veterinary-Document-Library/Flyers/clincalreferenceL4600. Simplex-F is listed on page 2 (canine dosages) in the Urinary Incontinence section. Note that the term “BIM” means twice a day (so split between morning and evening). 

Vasculin by Standard Process

Vasculin by Standard Process

Freeman’s article also mentions that in certain cases it is helpful to combine Simplex-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 listed in the Urinary Incontinence section in the Standard Process dosage resource . Note that the term “SID” means once a day. 

Incontia Homeopathic Remedy

Incontia natural remedy for dog incontinence

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.

Chiropractic

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.

Dog Diapers

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.

Urine Odor Eliminator

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.

KOE Kennel Odor Elimator

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.

Case Study:

(A Fancy Title for “My Dog’s Incontinence – What Worked & What Didn’t”)

Sad dog with urinary incontinence
Rose

Background:

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.

Person reading books to find dog incontinence 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!

Dog running happily after success with dog incontinence solutions

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.

Naturally,

Karen

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Karen Pedersen Written by:

Karen is an independent copywriter who loves dogs and everything about them. She is married to Scott, has 4 kids, and likes to take a natural and holistic approach to living and pet ownership.

12 Comments

  1. January 7, 2020
    Reply

    Interesting! Thanks for posting. My Shepard mix female, Stella, has been on Proin for several years. She first started leaking when she was about 3 or 4 years old. Fortunately, I have been able to reduce the dosage over time and have been recently wondering if she really needs it. I will definitely do more research and check out the suggested alternatives.

    • January 8, 2020
      Reply

      That’s really interesting to hear you’ve been able to wean her down Beth. It would logically makes sense that if she was 3 or 4 when it started then perhaps the cause was something that got better over time, such as the chiropractic alignment theory. Definitely let me know what you try and you research possible alternatives, I’ll be interested to see how Stella does.

  2. Tori Gillispie
    May 23, 2020
    Reply

    My dog Ellie, who was a rescue and has been on Proin for a month, well because of the scary side effects that the drug causes, I’m taking her off of it and starting the Apple cider vinegar tonight. I hope it works..Ellie is about 2 yrs old and I want her to have a long life..thank you for your article…

    • May 24, 2020
      Reply

      Hi Tori! Glad you found the article helpful for you as you troubleshoot your rescue dog’s incontinence. One thing I would keep track of while giving her apple cider vinegar is the pH level of her urine. The test strips are pretty inexpensive, I check my dog’s pH once or twice a week to be sure it doesn’t get too alkaline as that can be a factor that increases the likelihood of kidney or bladder stones. Another treatment to consider not mentioned in the article is acupuncture. We’re now doing that for my senior girl, her incontinence will resurface sometimes and acupuncture helps immensely. I will get this option added to the article soon. Keep me posted, I would love to hear how Ellie responds to natural treatments!

  3. August 2, 2020
    Reply

    Karen
    I was wondering if your dog also had increased thirst and panting when you noticed her incontinence started. We have been dealing with these three issues for over a month now. We are finally going to have a cushings test. I am nervous abut this test and if she has cushings I am not sure I want to put her on the vet prescription for that. Could the incontinent product help with cushings?
    Thank you,
    Paula

    • August 2, 2020
      Reply

      Hi Paula,
      My dog did not have any increased thirst or panting, so her incontinence most likely has an entirely different root cause. I did a quick Google search using “holistic remedies cushing’s disease dog” and found good articles by holistic vets that included Boulder Holistic Vet, White Oak Vet, and Peter Dobias. If you don’t have a holistic vet in your area, one other suggestion would be doing a phone consult with one to come up with a holistic support plan to see if you can avoid conventional meds. Let me know how things turn out with your dog, I hope you get some helpful answers on what is causing her symptoms.

  4. Liz o callaghan
    August 13, 2020
    Reply

    Please can someone help me. I have a 7yr old mini poodle and she’s been incontinent since she was 4. She was on ‘leaks no more’ but recently it stop working. The vet put her on proins and as a result she developed a terrible thirst which in turn has increased her incontinence. I tried phos acid but she won’t let the pellets dissolve under her tongue. This little dog is very fussy with food so its hard to disguise any meds. By the way she was spayed at 6months. At my wits end. Liz

    • August 13, 2020
      Reply

      Hey Liz, So sorry you are dealing with this, incontinence is so frustrating. Does your vet do acupuncture or chiropractic at all? The article by Peter Dobias (link above) talks about misalignments that can occur during spays. Right now I’m trying acupuncture and Chinese herbs with my girl, she is 12 so she will make improvement, then slide back, so we keep trying new things.

      Do you have diapers to put on your girl when she is inside? When mine isn’t doing well I just keep a diaper on her inside, then I’m not wiping up the floors all of the time and it’s a lot less frustrating. Keep me posted!

  5. August 13, 2020
    Reply

    Please can someone help me. I have a 7yr old mini poodle and she’s been incontinent since she was 4. She was on ‘leaks no more’ but recently it stop working. The vet put her on proins and as a result she developed a terrible thirst which in turn has increased her incontinence. I tried phos acid but she won’t let the pellets dissolve under her tongue. This little dog is very fussy with food so its hard to disguise any meds. By the way she was spayed at 6months. At my wits end. Liz

    • August 13, 2020
      Reply

      One other thought I had, since Leaks No More worked for awhile then stopped working, it might be worth considering a phone consult with an experienced animal homeopath. They might understand why the Leaks No More would stop working, and what remedy would correct that. Good luck!

  6. Angela
    September 26, 2020
    Reply

    How much Apple cider, Symplex f, and Vasculin would you recommend starting out with. My vet prescribed proin and all it does is make her Nauseous and vomit so I am trying to figure out other options because if I can’t figure out how to control it then I am going to have to rehome her which she is part of the family and I do not want to do.

    • September 27, 2020
      Reply

      Hi Angela,
      I’m so sorry you are struggling with incontinence in your dog, I know how hard it is. Kudos to you for trying to find a solution for your dog. Here are some dosage resources: For Simplex F and Vasculin Standard Process has a dosage resource at https://www.standardprocess.com/Veterinary-Document-Library/Flyers/clincalreferenceL4600. Both of these are in the Incontinence section, if the dose says “SID” that means once a day, if it says “BIM” it means twice a day (so split between morning and evening). For apple cider vinegar, holistic veterinarian Jim Carlson of Riverside Animal Clinic recommends 1 teaspoon/day for small dogs, 1 tablespoon/day for large dogs.

      For apple cider vinegar it’s important to mix it with their food or water. Since a number of dogs do not like the taste at first, start with a small amount and work your way up. I add it to my dogs food and stir it in, they don’t like it straight up. You can also add a little water to dilute the taste. I prefer not to add it to their water dish because I don’t want them to drink less water.

      In the meantime, I highly recommend getting some female doggie diapers. I use these when my dog has a setback, and it takes 95% of the stress out. I bought 2 sets of these on Amazon https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B07MPWS21K/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1. I have 6 that I rotate, and once 5 are dirty I wash a load on hot water with a little urine neutralizer added to the laundry soap dispenser.

      If you don’t have to clean up messes on your floors, it makes trying these different solutions so much more manageable, since natural solutions take time and aren’t instantly effective.

      I have also heard a number of stories where acupuncture was effective in stopping incontinence. For Rose (my dog) it wasn’t, but it just depends on the source of the problem causing the incontinence.

      Let me know how your dog does, I really respect all the work you are doing to try and find a solution, and I know your dog is grateful that you love her so much to keep trying!

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