Urinary Incontinence

Retriever dog jumping in the water

Urinary incontinence primarily affects middle aged and older neutered female dogs. It occasionally occurs in male dogs but is very rare in cats.

It is a common misconception that it is a normal part of the aging process and untreatable! 

What to look out for?

It is important to differentiate between Urinary Incontinence and inappropriate urination. Urinary Incontinence is when your dog is completely unaware of the leakage of urine which is not the same as consciously urinating in the wrong place.

Owners often note a gradual onset progressing over months from your dog paying more attention to their back end, to wet patches on bedding and a smell of urine.


Broadly speaking the causes can be divided into three categories:

1) Overflow incontinence – A separate issue is causing increased water intake e.g. Diabetes/ Kidney disease/ Infection
2) Spinal cord problems – Signals not being passed appropriately when the bladder is full
3) Weakened bladder muscles – termed USMI which is thought to account for 80% of cases in neutered females.

border collie jumping through water

Risk Factors for USMI

The most common cause of incontinence in female dogs is Urinary Sphincter Mechanism Incompetence (USMI). Anecdotal reports suggest this is more prevent in bitches that are spayed before their first season. For this reason, it is Rosevean’s practice policy to neuter animals 3 to 4 months after their first season.


While the condition is being investigated, a special bedding can help make your dog more comfortable by wicking away urine to prevent scalding and unpleasant smells.
The first step would be to rule out other potential causes and a urine sample brought to the consultation would helpful for this.
Once a diagnosis of USMI has been made – either by ruling out other causes or by contrast x-rays, there are drugs that can be very effective in treating this condition. The most common drug to treat USMI, Propalin, works by tightening the relevant muscles to prevent leaking and is available in a palatable liquid.
For further information, or to book a consultation please contact us at Rosevean Veterinary Practice on 01736 362215 where one of the team can assist you further.