Bladder weakness problems
(Q) I have a nine-year-old Boxer who I rescued four years ago. She is healthy in every respect but her bed is wet with urine most mornings. She seems to be fine during the day and still asks to go out, and she isn't drinking more than usual. I let her out just before I go to bed. Is there anything else I can do to help her?
(A) Vet Vicky Payne says: Your dog is most likely to be suffering from sphincter mechanism incontinence (SMI), meaning the valve that keeps urine in the bladder becomes weak.
It is very similar to bladder weakness in women. SMI is most common in older, neutered bitches but happens in entire females too. It is also more common in dogs with short docked tails.
Leaking is usually apparent when the bitch is relaxed and lying down, especially if she is overweight or has a full stomach. Two different types of drug are available from your vet to help your dog's bladder control, but keeping her fit and her weight correct will help too. Take a urine sample when you visit your vet so he can rule out any underlying infection or illness.
Get bladder problems under control
Medication to treat SMI works in one of two different ways:
- Increases the tone of the bladder muscles. The drugs vary in the way they do this. Improvement is normally seen within the first week of it being administered. However, your dog may experience some side effects including vomiting.
- Stimulates the bladder to respond better. This form of drug includes oestrogen which has a direct effect on the receptors in the urethral sphincter mechanism making them more sensitive to normal bladder function. As it is short-acting it should not accumulate in the dog's system, which reduces the risk of side effects.