Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Living with an Incontinent Dog

The working theory is that Cookie's intermittent leaks are estrogen-responsive incontinence because she was spayed extremely young.

On the off chance, there is a neurological component, we are also keeping up with chiropractic adjustments which Cookie would need anyway because of her old pelvic injury and having one hind leg slightly longer than the other.

Cookie does not leak all the time.

There is no regular pattern to it either. Sometimes she won't leak at all, sometimes she'll drip, and sometimes she'll have an outright leak. She may be sleeping or she may be awake. Though the biggest leak she ever had was when she was hard asleep after a play in fresh snow, which involves eating bunch of it too.

I still find it puzzling that it happens mostly during the day and rarely at night or in the morning, and that often she'll leak even after she went to pee.

One theory was that she has a anatomical abnormality causing urine pooling. Based on my observations I'm still somewhat partial to that theory, even though abdominal ultrasound she had done to investigate her elevated liver values didn't seem to show any evidence of that.

At this point I am still hesitant to consider the go-to treatment, Proin.

It seems effective and many dogs do fine on it. It does have side effects and some dogs don't do well on it at all. Proin seems to be involved in stimulation the "fight or flight" reflexes in the body, resulting in constriction of blood vessels (which also increases blood pressure), mild CNS stimulation ... and increase of urethral sphincter tone.

Potential side effects include restlessness, anxiety or agitation, urine retention, anorexia, tachycardia and high blood pressure. There is a potential for seizures and stroke-like clinical signs.

While Cookie might do just fine on that, I don't believe we're at the point of such desperation.

We tried DES therapy, which is a synthetic form of estrogen.

This one seems more dangerous to the pet parent than the dog. For myself, I'm not overly worried about that.

I couldn't really tell whether it did anything or not but at least it didn't cause any new issues. Because Cookie's vet is sold on the estrogen-responsive incontinence, I wanted to try something natural. Presently we're experimenting with Bladder Support by Pet Naturals.

Doesn't seem work any better or any worse than DES. I've tried minimum dose, now I'm trying a dose a bit higher.

I also got Leaks No More to potentially try, even though Cookie's vet doesn't have much faith in that.

One thing that is on my mind is wondering whether learning how to express her bladder might be a good idea for the future. Where there isn't any, no urine can leak, right?

Since Cookie doesn't leak constantly, not even regularly, I'm trying not to over-treat it.

Meanwhile, the goal is to keep Cookie and her environment dry and clean.

We do not limit Cookies water intake.

We offer frequent potty breaks. I monitor for leakage so I can take Cookie out right away and clean up. Some days there is a bunch of laundry involved.

We got special mattress protectors which are made to absorb any leaks, are soft and comfy and easy to wash. We got pee pads laid out on the couch and doggy beds, covered by comfy sheet. The pads absorb well and the sheets get washed when needed.

Sometimes is a challenge to keep everything set in place, because it's just laid out there and not secured in any appreciable way. But it's been working.

Do you have an incontinent dog? What worked for you?

Further reading:
Toxicology Brief: Phenylpropanolamine toxicosis in dogs and cats

Related articles:
Leaky Dogs: A Primer on Urinary Incontinence
Incontinence? Cookie's Mysterious Leaks
Cookie's Leaks Are Back: Garden Variety Incontinence Or Not?
Cookie's Leaks Update
The Continuing Saga Of Cookie's Leeks: Trying Chiropractic Approach
From The End Of A Lead Line To Casa Jasmine: Meet Cookie, Our New Adoptee
And So It Begins Again(?) Our First Health-Related Heart Attack With Cookie 
I Didn't Know I Could Fly: Why Cookie Wears A Harness Instead Of A Collar
C.E.T. Oral Hygiene Chews For Dogs CAN Be A Choking Hazzard 
Our First Health-Related Heart Attack With Cookie: The Knee Or The Foot? 
Creative Solutions And An Incidental Product Review
Too Young For Pot: Cookie's Snack With A Side Of Hydrogen Peroxide  
Taming Of The Wild Beast: Cookie's Transition To Civilization  
Staying On Top Of The Ears: Cookie Is Not Impressed  
Putting The Easy Back Into Walking
Cookie's Ears Are Still Not Happy 
The Threat Of The Bulge Is Always Lurking 
Today Is Cookie's Three-Months Adoptoversary  
Cookie Meets The Electric Horse Fence And Her First Chiropractic Adjustment  
Why Examine Your Dog's Vomit? 
Why Is That Leg Still Not Happy? Cookie's Leg Keeps Getting Sore 
Cookie Too Is Insured With Trupanion
Does Being Insured Mean Being Covered? Our First Claim With Trupanion
Is Cookie's Leg Finally Getting Better?
Is Cookie Going To Be Another Medical Challenge Or Are We Looking To Closely? 
The Project That Is Cookie: Pancreatitis Up Close And Personal  
Pancreatitis: Cookie’s Blood Work   
Another Belly Upset: Pancreatitis Again Or Not?  
Happy Birthday, Cookie 
Incontinence? Cookie's Mysterious Leaks 
Who's Training Whom? Stick And Treat 
Don't Just Stand There, Do Something? Cookie's Mysterious Bumps 
Cookie's Mysterious Bumps Update
One Vomit, No Vomit 
Happy One-Year Adoptoversary, Cookie!
Cookie's Leaks Are Back: Garden Variety Incontinence Or Not?
Cookie's Leaks Update 
Don't Panic, Don't Panic: Know What Your Job Is 
The Continuing Saga Of Cookie's Leeks: Trying Chiropractic Approach 
Cookie's Minor Eye Irritation
Regular Wellness Exam: Cookie's ALT Was Elevated 
Cookie's Plantar Paw Pad Injury 
How Far To Take It When The Dog Isn't Sick?
Cookie Has Tapeworm Infection 
Cookie's Elevated ALT: The Ultrasound and Cytology  
Cookie's ALT Update
The Importance of Observation: Cookie's Chiropractic Adjustment
Sometimes You Don't Even Know What You're Looking at: Cookie's Scary "We Have No Idea What that Was"

Do you have a story to share?

Your story can help others, maybe even save a life!

What were the first signs you noticed? How did you dog get diagnosed? What treatment did/didn't work for you? What was your experience with your vet(s)? How did you cope with the challenges?

Email me, I'll be happy to hear from you!


  1. Haley's had a few incontinence issues over the years. Twice it occurred after playing outside in the snow and eating snow (just like Cookie's incidence).

    The first time, she came inside after playing and after about 20 minutes she started shaking. I was worried that she had stayed out too long and I covered her with a blanket and took her temperature (which was normal), then she urinated quite a bit on the floor and acted fine afterwards.

    A few years later, after playing in the snow she came inside, seemed fine for awhile then headed for the door to be let outside. Right before I got to the door, she urinated a large amount on the rug beside the door.

    It happened twice again after she had surgery to remove a bump from her foot. She was resting on the floor (not sleeping), then got up after a short while and there was a huge puddle on the floor underneath her. She smelled it and seemed disturbed that it had happened but I don't think she felt it coming out. She seemed just as shocked as I was when we discovered it. On both of those occasions, I think it was due to the pain medication she was on.

    She also had some submissive urination type issues until she was around one year of age and I'm wondering if any of this could be related to the fact that she was spayed very early too, at five months old.

    1. Yeah, the snow seems to go right through, doesn't it? You wouldn't think they could get such a volume of water by eating snow (I know when I was a child and there was broken main in the winter, we were melting snow for utility water and a bucket of snow added up to a tiny bit of water only). But somehow they do. And perhaps it goes right through because void of any electrolytes ...

      Cookie didn't react to it, she didn't even know it was happening - she was sleeping and urine was just pouring out of her. It was shortly after we came back too.

      Cookie is very unhappy when she finds out too; tries to clean up.

      Cookie never had submissive urination, though, just leaks.

  2. Jack has a leaking problem - age related. He leaks only when he has to pee and is too lazy to go - if he's lying down he leaks. He doesn't leak at night, only during the day. If I take him out often enough he's fine. He's on Proin, but I'm considering taking him off - the first week or so was pretty bad, he was VERY restless. We lowered his dose a bit and he calmed down, but for an already hyper dog, it doesn't need that stimulation. Let me know if you find any alternatives.

    1. Not being able to hold it because the bladder is too full might not be the same thing; Cookie sometimes leaks even right after she went potty (which I still find strange and not adding up with the theory).

      We're trying the supplement mentioned above, then I have the Leeks No More to try. I'll post how things are going.