The Edmond Sun


December 31, 2012

VET Q&A: Urinary incontinence is very treatable

EDMOND — Q: I have a 7-year-old female dog that is leaking urine, especially when she is sleeping, but it can occur at other times as well. Her name is Ellie and she seems fine otherwise.  She is eating good, is playful and still eager to go on her walk every morning.

It sounds like Ellie has urinary incontinence. Urinary incontinence can be life-threatening, but on the other hand, is easily treated when the cause is identified.

You did not mention whether or not she is drinking extra water lately or not, which may be important since other diseases can result in urinary incontinence. Medical conditions such as diabetes, a chronic kidney disease, Cushing’s Disease, etc., can result in urinary incontinence. For this reason, your veterinarian will want to do a full blood chemistry and complete blood count. The information from these tests can give a clue as to whether or not she has some other medical problem that is causing her incontinence.

A high blood glucose level can indicate diabetes, elevated BUN and creatinine on her blood work can indicate a chronic kidney disease. Levels of electrolytes as well as enzyme levels in her blood if abnormal, can give a hint that she may have Cushing’s disease, which occurs when her adrenal glands or pituitary are in an over-productive mode.

The most telling information will be a urinalysis to look at her kidney function, urine concentration, the number of white and red blood cells present and quite a number of other bits of information. If her blood glucose is high, and she has glucose in her urine, she is likely diabetic.

Let’s say all her blood work is normal. Should she have an increased number of white blood cells in her urine, she may have a simple urinary tract infection. If her urinalysis is normal then we likely have eliminated down to a loose sphincter muscle that encircles her urethra.  

A common problem in spayed female dogs is a low estrogen level. This causes the sphincter to become weak or incompetent. This sphincter is a ring of muscle that encircles the urethra or the tube carrying urine outside her body, and normally controls the flow of urine out of the body. This type of leakage usually occurs when she is sleeping or at least relaxed and cat-napping. She is totally unaware it is happening.

The danger is that when the sphincter muscle is relaxed and open, bacteria can travel up the urethra to the bladder and eventually even the kidneys, causing a raging infection.   

Treatment is with phenylpropanolamine or PPA. This is a tablet dosed to her body weight and given every 12 hours. The results are almost immediate. Some veterinarians will use a synthetic estrogen diethylstilbestrol or DES. This is not without some side effects and usually not good long-term, so PPA is usually the long-term choice.

There are other causes of sphincter incontinence but they are much more uncommon. One example involves a nerve disorder, especially in the lumbosacral region of the back. Another one is a degenerative myelopathy or lumbosacral disease.  

Your veterinarian will do a thorough physical exam and history with you prior to beginning her treatment so these other conditions can be considered. The greater majority of dogs has simple sphincter incompetence, however, and are easily treated. See your veterinarian as soon as you can to avoid secondary infections and to make her feel more comfortable in the long run.

DR. M. MARGARET KING, a longtime Edmond veterinarian, is a guest columnist. If you have any questions for her, email them to

Text Only
  • Doctors to rate cost effectiveness of expensive cancer drugs

    The world's largest organization of cancer doctors plans to rate the cost effectiveness of expensive oncology drugs, and will urge physicians to use the ratings to discuss the costs with their patients.

    April 16, 2014

  • treadmill-very-fast.jpg Tax deduction for a gym membership?

    April marks another tax season when millions of Americans will deduct expenses related to home ownership, children and education from their annual tax bill. These deductions exist because of their perceived value to society; they encourage behaviors that keep the wheels of the economy turning. So why shouldn't the tax code be revised to reward preventive health?

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Allergies are the real midlife crisis

    One of the biggest mysteries is why the disease comes and goes, and then comes and goes again. People tend to experience intense allergies between the ages of 5 and 16, then get a couple of decades off before the symptoms return in the 30s, only to diminish around retirement age.

    April 16, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 12.51.22 PM.png VIDEO: Toddler climbs into vending machine

    A child is safe after climbing into and getting stuck inside a claw crane machine at a Lincoln, Neb., bowling alley Monday.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • To sleep well, you may need to adjust what you eat and when

    Sleep.  Oh, to sleep.  A good night's sleep is often a struggle for more than half of American adults.  And for occasional insomnia, there are good reasons to avoid using medications, whether over-the-counter or prescription.

    April 16, 2014

  • portraitoflotte.jpg VIDEO: From infant to teen in four minutes

    Dutch filmmaker Frans Hofmeester’s time lapse video of his daughter, Lotte — created by filming her every week from her birth until she turned 14 — has become a viral sensation.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sheriff seeks items for agency history project

    If you have historic pictures or artifacts related to the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office, the agency is asking the public to share them.
    “The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office is working on a history project. If you, your family, friends or acquaintances have any old photos or artifacts related to the OCSO we would love to have them or a digital copy,” said Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel.

    April 16, 2014

  • oil infographic[1].png Easy on the coconut oil

    These days, it seems like coconut oil is soaking up credit for its positive affect on a wide range of health conditions. But, still developing science around the popular oil tells a little different story.
    “We know all saturated fats are not created equally, but there’s no evidence that coconut oil is better or healthier than other vegetable oils,” said Janice Hermann, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension nutrition specialist.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Easter 4e.JPG Moms Club finds Easter fun at Fountains at Canterbury

    The Fountains at Canterbury hosted members of the Moms Club of Edmond-West Tuesday morning for a Easter egg hunt and party complete with a special visit from the Easter Bunny. Residents at the Fountains at Canterbury hid several dozen eggs filled with prizes and candy for the children. The Moms Club of Edmond-West is a nonprofit, local chapter of stay-at-home moms who aim to support each other during the day.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • New study counters pot legalization argument

    A new study raises a strong challenge to the idea that casual marijuana use isn’t associated with bad consequences, a researcher says.
    Researchers say the findings suggest recreational marijuana use may lead to previously unidentified brain changes and highlight the importance of research aimed at understanding the long-term effects of low to moderate marijuana use on the brain.

    April 15, 2014