Home & Leisure

My Pet World: Urinary incontinence in dogs can be frustrating to manage

By Cathy M. Rosenthal, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Cathy,

I have a problem with Buster, my 2-year-old Jack Russell Terrier. Buster loves attention, especially from new people or people he doesn't see often. The problem is, he pees when he gets excited. I'll let him out beforehand if I know someone is coming over. I also have unexpected guests go to the back door when they come in. This has been effective.

My real problem is when company comes over for a few hours. Buster gets so excited and focused on playing with guests to the point where he will start leaking on the floor without warning. It's like he lets out a little urine to relieve the sensation of a full bladder and keeps playing like it never happened. Other times, when he realizes has to go, he will run to the door, possibly leaking. Either way, I let him out to empty his bladder.

This can happen again in as little as 10-15 minutes. I am constantly asking Buster if he needs to go out because I don't want anyone or anything getting peed on. I understand he's amped up, but Buster doesn't do this when it's just us around. Even if he's rowdy, Buster will let us know if he needs to go out. On regular days, he holds it normally and can sleep eight hours at night without any issues.

Any advice besides avoiding people? He's neutered if that makes any difference. -- Sean, New York, NY

Dear Sean,

If Buster did this all of the time, I would say he suffered from urinary incontinence and that you should see a veterinarian, since there are medications out there that can support bladder health. He still may benefit from such medications, so a vet visit should be in your plans. But the fact that Buster can hold his bladder when there are no guests around suggests he may be showing signs of submission urination.

Submission urination is basically an insecure dog letting people around him know he is not a threat. Some dogs do this when they meet people and once they calm down are fine. Others may do it when they feel intimidated or, in Buster's case, over excited. It can be difficult to manage.

Buster doesn't have to give up people. Instead, continue letting guests greet Buster in the yard and ask them to keep their interactions low-key -- no high baby voices or overenthusiastic greetings, just calm soothing voices. Also ask guests to not bend over him to pet him as this is a dominant posture that can trigger submissive urination. Instead, train Buster to sit and let guests offer him a treat, which puts him in a more positive posture, which may reduce these occurrences.

These tips, however, may not halt the problem entirely, so you may consider using reusable (washable) doggie diapers when guests come over.

Sponsored Video Stories from LifeZette

Dear Cathy,

We have a seven-year-old Chihuahua mix. She has a problem leaking urine all of the time. We took her to the vet and she was checked out and had an X-ray, but they couldn't find anything wrong. They recommend a specialist, which costs thousands of dollars for testing. We do not have that kind of money. She is healthy, has a good appetite and drinks plenty of water. We have had her 1-1/2 years. Any ideas on what this might be or what we can do? She goes outside to the bathroom, but if she lays on the floor, we have puddles. -- Gaila, Las Vegas, NV

Dear Gaila,

I am glad you took your dog to a veterinarian for an examine since this is probably a health issue and not a behavior issue. I understand that expensive tests are not something most pet owners can afford, but it would be difficult to know what's causing her incontinence without them. I think at the very least, you should ask your veterinarian or the veterinary specialist what they suspect might be the problem or what they are looking for with the tests, so you know better how to proceed.

As mentioned above, there are medications that can help with bladder health. Some veterinarians, if they strongly suspect something, also might be willing to try a treatment to see if it will help the dog. If the treatment works, great. If not, then you and your veterinarian will know there is something more going on that needs to be checked out.

If the puddles are too much to keep up with, reusable doggie diapers will work in this instance too.


(Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal.)



blog comments powered by Disqus

--Ads from Google--

Social Connections


Clay Bennett Hi and Lois Nest Heads Dustin Mike Lester Signe Wilkinson