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What Causes Sleep Incontinence in Dogs and How to Manage It

Sleep incontinence in dogs is often triggered by hormonal imbalances and the muscular weakness that results.

Medication therapy, in conjunction with diapering and regular washings, can help pet owners manage this ailment while preventing infections and discomfort.

What Causes Sleep Incontinence in Dogs and How to Manage It

Causes of Sleep Incontinence

Varying degrees of incontinence, or involuntary urination, is not uncommon in older animals, but one particularly problematic form of this condition occurs during sleep.

Without proper treatment at home, this form of incontinence can lead to messy bedding and painful infection.

There are a couple of potential causes for this form of incontinence. A back injury can make the bladder difficult to control, particularly during sleep, and older animals are more prone to these sorts of injuries.

And in female dogs – particularly middle-aged and older spayed females – hormonal imbalances trigger a weakening of the muscles used to control the bladder.

So, when the animal is relaxes during sleep, you can see emptying of the bladder occur.

What Causes Sleep Incontinence in Dogs and How to Manage It

Treatment of Sleep Incontinence

Anti-inflammatory medications and surgery can often result in improvements for back injury-related incontinence, while medication, such as the drug Proin, is usually the most effective for treating incontinence that results from weakened muscles in the pelvic region.

In addition to drug therapies and other forms of treatment at the veterinarian’s office, properly handling this problem at home will greatly improve an incontinent animal’s quality of life.

When the skin is regularly exposed to ammonia and other components of urine, you actually see the skin begin to break down.

This results in open sores, infection, inflammation, fur loss, and pain, and since the skin’s exposure to urine occurs on a daily basis, there’s no opportunity for healing.

You will often end up with a chronic problem that can be extremely uncomfortable.

There’s also a higher incidence of urinary tract and bladder infections in pets suffering from incontinence.

Dog wearing a diaper

Diapering a dog

Diapering is one way to help avoid soiled bedding and damage to the pet’s skin.

There are two types of diapers available: disposable diapers and reusable fabric diaper garments.

Monitoring bedding to ensure that it remains dry and clean is also important.

Cleaning, Irritation, and Infections

Regular cleanings are another way to help prevent infection and irritation.

Washing the pet’s groin area on a daily basis with an anti-bacterial soap can help prevent infection and skin breakdown due to contact with the urine.

Cute dog wearing a diaper

Many times, sleep incontinence in dogs is treatable, and essentially every case is manageable.

It’s just a matter of knowing how to manage a pet’s incontinence.

This can mean the difference between a dog who is constantly suffering from pain and discomfort from infections, and a dog who is happy and relatively healthy.


Saturday 17th of December 2022

good to know the signs too

Lisa Ellison

Monday 31st of October 2022

Very interesting

Shannon Holmes

Thursday 13th of February 2020

Thanks for going over this with us, I have never had a dog with it.

Debbie P

Saturday 7th of December 2019

Thanks for the important and interesting article.

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