Has your dog ever suffered from urinary incontinence? It's a condition common in spayed female dogs that typically requires diagnostic testing to fully evaluate and medications to treat. Learn my perspective on why urinary incontinence may be affecting a Yorkiepoo via the i Love Dogs (iLD) Ask A Vet page in the article: How Can I Help My Yorkiepoo Stop Leaking Urine?
I have a 7-year-old spayed Yorkiepoo who is generally very healthy. However, she is starting to leak a little urine when she lies down.
Is there anything I can do now — asupplement or diet change, for example — that will strengthen her urinary tract and help prevent this problem?
Thank you for your question.
There are many conditions that can cause a dog to develop clinical signs of inappropriate urination — that is, producing urine in an abnormal manner. Female dogs are particularly prone to these types of issues, as the distance from the bladder to the outside world through the urethra is very short.
Some of these conditions include:
- Increased frequency, known as “polyuria” — Needing to urinate multiple times in a short period of time, for reasons that do not include the dog simply marking its territory.
- Volume changes — Producing large amounts of urine, or only very small quantities.
- Abnormal color — Taking on a variety of colors, including clear, red, orange, pink, brown and green.
- Straining, known as “stranguria” — Standing or posturing for a longer time than normal to produce pee, or even visible contractions of the lumbar (lower back) muscles.
- Lack of conscious control — Leaking or dripping urine from the penis or vulva.
- Repeated licking at the penis or vulva — The dog attempting to address the issue himself.
- Unusual location — Producing urine on the floor, couch, bed or elsewhere, instead of outside on the grass or tree.
If your dog is leaking urine when she lies down as you describe, I suggest taking her to be examined by her veterinarian, and making sure any recommended diagnostics are performed.
Diagnostic testing is an important part of determining a health issue associated with abnormal urination. Some of the tests her veterinarian may want to perform include:
- Blood testing — To monitor kidney levels (toxins normally excreted by the kidneys) and values pertaining to other organ systems (liver, pancreas, etc.) that may affect kidney function.
- Urine testing — To determine the presence of abnormal characteristics (such as glucose, bacteria, crystals, ketones or kidney cells) that may indicate the cause of the incontinence.
- Diagnostic imaging — Ultrasound should be used to collect the urine sample (via cystocentesis) and evaluate the overall health of the bladder and kidneys. X-rays can give an idea of other changes inside the abdominal cavity.
From what you describe, it sounds like your dog has urinary incontinence. In female dogs that have been spayed, the condition is often due to a lack of female hormones that help to promote the tightness of the urethral sphincters. When the ovaries and uterus have been removed from the body, estrogen levels are significantly reduced, as is control over the muscles that control urine flow. As a result, when the body is very relaxed (such as during sleep or when sedating medication is taken), there can be drips of urine or even a large puddle that ends up soaking whatever location the dog chooses as its bed (which, unfortunately, could even be a person’s bed).
If your veterinarian’s examination and diagnostic testing don’t discover any issues (or if the testing does and the issue is addressed, such as with urinary tract infection), then medication can be prescribed to improve the sphincter’s muscular control.
Whether supplements or a diet change could help really depends on your veterinarian’s evaluation of the actual problem that is contributing to your dog’s inappropriate urination. If there’s urinary tract infection (bacteria) or inflammation (cystitis), then using a supplement that promotes immune system function and has an antioxidant effect, such as i Love Dogs Reishi with Green Tea, can lend support.
Good luck, and get your pooch to her vet.
– Patrick Mahaney, VMD, CVA
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Copyright of this article (2013) is owned by Dr Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist. Republishing any portion of this article must first be authorized by Dr Patrick Mahaney. Requests for republishing must be approved by Dr Patrick Mahaney and received in written format.