What Should You Do If Your Senior Dog Is Incontinent?

old dog incontinence

Incontinence, or the inability to control the expulsion of pee and/or feces, affects both male and female older dogs. Urinary tract infections, renal problems, arthritis, and dementia are all common causes of incontinence in elderly dogs. Supplements and pharmaceuticals can assist dogs with incontinence, but if there is an underlying health problem, that can also be treated. Learn about the reasons of incontinence in elderly dogs and how to treat it.

What Is Incontinence?

The inability to totally control the urine and/or bowels is known as incontinence. A dog that glances at you and then squats to relieve itself is unlikely to be incontinent. Urination and/or feces can occur without the dog noticing it until it's too late when a dog is genuinely incontinent. This might make the dog feel embarrassed and even fearful of being punished. Your dog is not to blame for true incontinence. In incontinent dogs, common findings include:

  • Leaking urine while sleeping
  • Having a bowel movement while sleeping
  • Dribbling urine while standing or walking (not squatting first)
  • Dropping stool while standing or walking (not posturing to defecate)
  • Finding wet spots on bedding
  • Smelling urine and/or feces on your dog

In the early stages of incontinence, it may just seem like your dog cannot hold it. It's a good idea to start letting your older dog out to go potty more often than usual.

Diagnosing Incontinence in Dogs

If your senior dog starts having accidents in the house, attempt to figure out why. Is your dog peeing or pooping in the home on purpose? This might be due to a medical issue or a behavioral issue.


A health problem is the first thing to rule out. Make an appointment with your veterinarian for a checkup. Senior dogs should visit the veterinarian more frequently than younger dogs; twice-yearly examinations are frequently suggested. Your dog's urine and blood will almost certainly be tested by your veterinarian.

Urinary Tract Infections

A is the most prevalent health-related cause of urine accidents. If this is the case, your veterinarian will prescribe antibiotics for your dog. Bladder stones or tumors can also cause urinary problems. These may need surgery.

Kidney Disease

Kidney illness can cause urinary tract infections and other urinary problems, especially in older dogs. Kidney illness leads the body to consume and urinate more often. All of this can be difficult for a senior dog to deal with, leading to incontinence.

Gastrointestinal Disorders

GI problems can cause diarrhea and other stool issues that can look like incontinence. If your dog's stools seem abnormal, your vet might want to do x-rays or an ultrasound to look at the abdomen.

Spinal Problems

Incontinence can be caused by nerve problems caused by spinal problems. Incontinence can arise in dogs with intervertebral disc disease or severe spinal injury. If the nerve damage is severe enough, medical or surgical therapy may not be effective.


Arthritis impairs movement in senior dogs and is a prevalent condition. Your dog may be stiff and achy, making it difficult for him to urinate and/or defecate in the proper posture. Because of this, he could be holding it. He then has an accident when he can no longer hold it together.

Brain Disease

Brain issues might impair a dog's ability to control his urine and feces. This might be the result of a brain tumor or an infection that has caused damage to a section of the brain. It might also be dementia, which is more frequent. Dementia, also known as canine cognitive impairment or senility, causes a dog to lose his memory, have difficulty concentrating or focusing, and change his behavior. Dementia causes dogs to feel frightened and bewildered. "Forgetting" instruction, such as house training, is one of the first indicators of dementia.

There is no cure for dementia, but there are ways you can help your dog cope. There are also some medications and supplements that can ease symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.


Some dogs will benefit from urinary incontinence drugs and nutrients. Incontinence caused by dementia, on the other hand, cannot be addressed in the same way. If your dog is incontinent and there is no way to stop it, you may make some changes to enhance his quality of life while keeping your sanity.

  • Increase the frequency of walks and potty breaks. Take your dog out immediately after eating, drinking, and waking up. It's similar to how you treat a puppy.
  • Put waterproof covers on dog beds and other places where your dog sleeps.
  • Clean soiled areas well with an enzymatic cleaner to keep your dog from being attracted to that area for elimination in the future.
  • Place puppy pads in easy-to-access areas so your dog can get relief faster.
  • Use doggie diapers for severe cases. Just be sure to change them frequently to avoid skin irritation and infections.
  • Bath your dog's genital area often to prevent odor, irritation, and infections. You also may want to keep longer hair trimmed short in the genital area to make cleaning up easier.

It can be hard to deal with these issues as your dog ages, but your dog deserves to live out his golden years as comfortably as possible.

If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet's health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.


"My Dog is Leaking. University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, 2020", "Denenberg, Sagi et al. Behavioural And Medical Differentials Of Cognitive Decline And Dementia In Dogs And CatsCanine And Feline Dementia, 2017, pp. 13-58. Springer International Publishing, doi:10.1007/978-3-319-53219-6_2" ;