Urinary incontinence means the loss of ability to control urination and is more common in female dogs than in males because of the differences in their urinary tracts - females have a shorter urethra (tube through which the urine drains from the bladder to the outside of the body). We rarely see urinary incontinence in cats. Urine leakage occurs mainly because the pressure in the bladder is greater than the pressure in the urethra. Some animals are born with abnormalities of the urinary tract and some develop problems later in their life. In entire male dogs incontinence can be related to prostate problems and spayed bitches have a greater risk of developing incontinence. Sometimes back problems can affect the nerves to the bladder and this leads to incontinence.
If your dog is incontinent you will find damp patches where your dog has been resting. Dripping of urine after urination is more likely with infections (cystitis), developmental abnormalities of the urinary tract, and cancer. If our vets have ruled out medical and structural problems (including back problems) they may prescribe treatments to see if the incontinence can be managed. For example, the most common cause of incontinence in bitches is a weakness at the outlet of the bladder. This condition can be managed using medications which tone up the muscle in the urethra. This addresses the problem of incontinence by helping to improve the seal between the bladder and the urethra. These medications may need to be used on a continuous basis throughout your dog's life.
Acupuncture and herbal medicines can also successfully be used to treat urinary incontinence.