had never urinated or defecated in the house. But Ellie
found her dog curled up under the dining room table,
looking quite sheepish, and the dog’s bed full of
urine. Ellie did her best to comfort Matilda; she could
use some comforting words, too, as concerns surface
about possible health problems in her 9-year-old pet.
seems to be dealing with urinary tract incontinence.
This means she is not able to hold her urine overnight.
is a fairly common problem in older dogs, with females
showing a higher incidence.
underlying cause of urinary incontinence can involve a
decrease in tone to one of the two urethral sphincter
muscles. Each is under a different type of nervous
system control, one voluntary the other involuntary.
Controlling the urge to go involves the voluntary
urethral sphincter. The involuntary sphincter works
unconsciously, during periods of sleep for example. When
there is decreased tone to the involuntary sphincter,
pressure from increased volume within the bladder can
overwhelm the weakened tone and allow urine to leak out.
key to addressing cases like Matilda’s is to determine
if her urinary incontinence is primary. In other words,
is it due to a primary decrease in involuntary urethral
sphincter tone or is it secondary to another issue?
that develop urinary tract infections caused by bacteria
can, as a result, appear to leak urine. This is a
secondary incontinence issue. Then there are other
causes in which the involuntary urethral sphincter tone
is adequate, but the pressure inside the bladder is
increased. This increased pressure within the bladder
then overcomes the sphincter tone and urine leaks out.
This occurs most commonly as a result of increased urine
volume, which in turn occurs from increased fluid
fluid intake can be physiologically normal if, for
example, your dog has had a very strenuous day and needs
to replace fluids lost during exercise. If they take in
a meal that is high in electrolytes, sodium in
particular, their intake of fluid will correspondingly
increase. There are also diseases that cause a
significant increase in fluid intake and, thus, urine
volume. Kidney disease, diabetes mellitus, diabetes
incipidus and hyperadrenocortisism are all associated
with increases in fluid intake.
the key in Matilda’s case is whether she has primary
or secondary urinary incontinence. Physical examination
with blood and urine testing should help provide an
answer. If she does have primary urinary tract
incontinence, there are medications to increase
involuntary urethral sphincter tone and curb the