How to Deal With Nocturnal Enuresis in Dogs

by Amy Jorgensen
    A dog who suffers from nocturnal enuresis is not aware they are urinating in their sleep, so punishing him after the fact will have no positive impact.

    A dog who suffers from nocturnal enuresis is not aware they are urinating in their sleep, so punishing him after the fact will have no positive impact.

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    Dogs who have nocturnal enuresis lose control of bladder function while they are sleeping. The resulting messes can be frustrating for their owners, as well as challenging. You'll have to enforce some changes in your dog's lifestyle to overcome the issue. Your first step is to seek out medical treatment for your canine companion, since the condition can lead to complications including urinary tract infections.

    Nocturnal Enuresis vs. Ordinary Accidents

    When you're trying to deal with nocturnal enuresis, you need to understand the distinction between your dog's incontinence and the dog having an accident in the house. In the latter scenario, the dog is consciously urinating inside either because she is not properly house-trained or because she has not been taken out. With incontinence, the dog involuntarily urinates. In nocturnal enuresis, the dog is asleep when the urination occurs.

    Causes of Nocturnal Enuresis

    One of the main causes of nocturnal enuresis is reduced hormone levels, because of age or neutering. Estrogen in females and testosterone in males help dogs maintain control of the urethral sphincter. Dogs whose incontinence problems are hormone-based can still urinate normally most of the time but lose control when they are in a relaxed state. Overweight dogs are more prone to incontinence. Other causes of canine incontinence, including bladder stones and urinary tract diseases, typically cause involuntary urination throughout the day, rather than only when the dog is relaxed or sleeping.

    Dealing With Daily Incontinence

    Even though you know your dog cannot help her incontinence, cleaning up her accidents can become a problem. You may be able to reduce incontinence episodes by taking your dog out more frequently, particularly right before or after she sleeps. If she can empty her bladder, she will have less urine to release. You can also use waterproof pads to protect her bed or her favorite sleeping spot. Diapers for dogs, available in most pet stores, can be another option to reduce the mess associated with these involuntary accidents.

    Consulting a Veterinarian

    While learning how to cope with your dog’s incontinence can help reduce stress at home, she still needs to visit the veterinarian because treatments are available and because nocturnal enuresis can lead to complications. According to veterinarian Dr. Brad Green, around three-fourths of all cases of canine incontinence can be successfully treated using only medications. For hormone-related incontinence, hormone replacement therapy can correct the problem. If the condition does not respond to medicine, surgical options are available and are effective in 90 percent of cases. Regular veterinary visits can reduce the risk of incontinence-related complications, such as urinary tract or skin infections. A thorough examination can rule out other conditions that could cause the problem, including diabetes, kidney problems and liver disease.

    Photo Credits

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    About the Author

    Amy Jorgensen is a writer and communications instructor from Indiana. In addition to 10-plus years working as a writer, she has been teaching writing and communication courses to college students for nine years. She has a Bachelor of Science in English, a Master of Arts in liberal studies and a Master of Arts in communications.

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