How to Know if My Dog Is Marking or Has a Bladder Leakageby Catherine Troiano
Your dog’s successful housebreaking days may be a distant memory, but lately your eyes and your nose are observing lapses in your faithful friend’s cleanliness. Puddles or trickles of urine can happen for a number of medical and behavioral reasons, and it is important to enlist your veterinarian to determine the cause. Observing when and where in the home the puddle troubles occur will provide additional clues for an informative conversation to supplement your dog’s examination and laboratory testing.
Medical Causes of Leaking and Accidents
Several medical conditions can result in a dog’s inability to hold his urine. Diabetes, Cushing’s disease and kidney disease all cause dogs to drink more frequently. Certain medications, such as cortisone, pose a side effect of increased water intake. If someone is not home to let your dog out more frequently, he is likely to have accidents or leak some urine despite his attempts to hold it until a family member arrives to let him out. Dogs who suffer from bladder stones or urinary tract infections experience a burning sensation to urinate more frequently. Older dogs may urinate indoors as a result of canine cognitive dysfunction because they no longer remember their housebreaking habits. A weakened bladder sphincter is a common cause of urine leaking in older dogs, especially in females. Spinal degenerative myelopathy also results in urinary accidents and leaking.
Behavioral Reasons for Marking
Marking is a form of social communication among dogs. Those who remain intact are more likely to urine mark than spayed females and neutered males. Unspayed females increase their marking behavior when they go into heat. Males who are neutered later in life are likely to continue marking their turf as a matter of habit. Environmental, social and anxiety triggers that can prompt dogs to mark include the arrival of something new to the home, such as a new piece of furniture, a baby, another pet or a new human resident. A change of address can also stimulate urine marking. Dogs who visit your home and mark may prompt your dog to follow suit. Anxiety-driven marking can be caused by any situation that the dog perceives as stressful, from the bags you have packed for your imminent vacation to recurrent social conflict between family members.
Check the Bed
One way to determine if your dog is leaking is to check his bed or other favorite naptime spots right after he vacates the area. If the bed is damp, then your pet is leaking urine. Dogs who leak urine are suffering from involuntary urinary incontinence, and they are often unaware that this is happening. Other signs include dribbles of urine that occur while the dog is walking or small puddles that appear while the dog is sitting and obviously focused on something else going on in the room. In the case of increased drinking, you may find a puddle by the door where he normally exits to go outdoors and relieve himself. In this case, he voluntarily tried to do the right thing, but he did not quite make it.
Caught with His Leg Up
If your dog is marking, you will find the evidence of urine on vertical surfaces, such as table or chair legs and corners of walls. Marking can also occur on horizontal surfaces, but will usually be done repeatedly on the same surface. This behavior is a conscious act. Dogs who mark typically assume the stance of lifting a rear leg to do so, and they usually leave only a small deposit. They may return to mark the same spots again and again. Once you and your veterinarian have determined whether your dog is leaking or marking, there are numerous products on the veterinary market to manage urinary incontinence and plenty of methods to address behavioral marking issues.
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