How to Help a Dog With Sleep Incontinence

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Vet holding one dog
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A dog with sleep incontinence is probably as worried about the problem as her owner. A housebroken dog knows she shouldn't urinate in the house, and if she suddenly starts wetting overnight, she isn't behaving badly. The best way to help a dog with sleep incontinence is to take her to a vet to check for illness or other underlying problems, make her comfortable and clean any urine-stained skin or matted hair.


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Incontinence Causes

The possible causes of sleep incontinence depend on the dog's age. Young dogs suffering from incontinence might have a physical abnormality that causes urine leakage. Older dogs who suddenly start wetting overnight can have bladder infections or blockages in their urinary tracts from stones or tumors. Incontinence is sometimes an effect of neutering even many years after the operation, especially in middle-aged female dogs. Dogs suffering from incontinence often don't show symptoms during the day if they have access to a yard or enjoy frequent walks, but can't hold their urine overnight, resulting in a wet blanket or puddle on the floor in the morning.


Home Comforts

Keeping your dog comfortable, clean and dry is a priority when she suffers from sleep incontinence. Take your dog for a walk last thing at night and first thing in the morning, and whenever she wakes from a nap or more often during the day. Sleeping in a wet patch is uncomfortable and upsetting. Use dog diapers or prepare a clean, dry bed every night. Put a waterproof sheet or puppy training pad in your dog's sleeping spot and spread clean blankets or towels on top. Don't give your dog less water because this could harm her health -- talk to your vet first.


Doggy Hygiene

Dogs who suffer from sleep incontinence can suffer infections and require special care. Examine your dog's genital area frequently to check for red, raw skin and other signs of infection or dirty, matted hair. Wash the dirty area gently with a clean, soft washcloth and with lukewarm water. Don't use shampoo, which could irritate sensitive skin. Use a soft towel or hair dryer on a cool, low setting to dry the area. Distract your puppy from overcleaning her genital area during the day by playing with her or taking her for a walk.


Vet Diagnosis

Your vet usually can diagnose the cause of sleep incontinence and prescribe medication to help. By examining your dog and asking you about her behavior, a vet can decide whether medications might help. Your vet needs to know how much water your dog drinks when and how often she urinates. He'll likely also ask how long she's been incontinent and what other symptoms she has. Medications to treat sleep incontinence often include hormones that improve muscle tone in the dog's bladder.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.