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Help! My Senior Dog has Incontinence While Sleeping

Golden retriever wearing a diaper layin gon a purple comforter

Old age makes a lot of changes in your canine’s body, but incontinence is probably the most frustrating one. Incontinent dogs don’t wake to urinate during the night and it can create a lot of mess. Age is not the only reason for this behavior because several medical conditions can also cause incontinence. Keep reading to know why your senior dog has incontinence while sleeping and learn what you can do about it.

Why Does My Senior Dog Show Incontinence While Sleeping?

The following are some of the most common causes that can make your older dog incontinent.

Weak Bladder Sphincter

Small dog peeing on blue carpet

It happens when the muscles of the bladder become weak and your dog can’t hold the urge to urinate. They may also experience urine leakage because they won’t realize that they are peeing. Hormonal balance plays a major role in this condition because sex hormones are vital for keeping these muscles strong.

Bladder Stones

Any obstruction in the flow of urine can cause incontinence and bladder stones are the biggest culprits. They damage the muscles of the bladder and this inflammation will result in urine leakage. Other than stones, tumors and polyps can also cause incontinence in dogs.

Urinary Tract Infections

Brown dog resting head over side of black leather couch

The inflammation caused by these infections can make a pup incontinent while sleeping. Hence, dogs with UTIs won’t wake up during the night to relieve themselves. Your pooch will also look thirsty all the time, which explains frequent urination.

Kidney Disease

Older dogs can suffer from many urinary issues and this is one of the most common ones. It increases the water intake of your canine companion. Hence, they will need more bathroom breaks to relieve themselves. This can result in inappropriate elimination because most senior dogs will find it difficult.

Spinal Cord Issues

Illustration of a dog's spine with red indicating inflimation

Any problem (trauma or intervertebral disc disease) with the spinal cord can affect the mobility of your pooch. Likewise, it can lessen the sense of feeling among canines. Therefore, these issues are often associated with incontinence while sleeping. This is because your dog won’t realize that he/she is urinating.


This disease is caused by the hormonal imbalance of insulin in your dog’s body. An affected dog experiences extreme thirst and will drink more water than usual. For this reason, they will need to pee more and it can be a problem for older pups, especially while sleeping. Lethargy and increased appetite are other common symptoms of diabetes.     


Xray of a dogs arthritic hip

It is very common among older canines because their joints become weak with time. As a result, it becomes difficult for your pooch to move around the house. In this situation, the chances of accidents increase many times because the dog doesn’t want to move (to avoid pain). Even if they try to go outside, they may fail to hold for long enough.


This ailment affects the brain of a dog and he/she loses control over body functions. Similarly, they find it hard to remember house training and will exhibit inappropriate behavior. Some dogs won’t even realize that they are leaking urine while strolling around the house. Anxiety and disorientation are some of the most obvious signs of dementia.  

What to Do if My Senior Dog has Incontinence While Sleeping?

Brown dog laying on couch, wearing a diaper

Many treatments and tips can be effective against canine incontinence, but only if the problem is spotted early. Read on to learn about some methods that can help incontinent dogs.

Visit Your Vet

A detailed examination should always be your first option if your senior dog has incontinence while sleeping. This will allow the veterinarian to perform some tests, like blood work and urinalysis, to determine the underlying cause. Most senior dogs will need to visit the vet more often as they grow old. For example, they require at least 2 regular examinations in a year.  

Visit the Bathroom Before Bedtime

Blonde colored hound, pooping in a grass yard

This is an ideal remedy to minimize the chances of senior dog incontinence while sleeping. Older dogs can’t hold for very long and will need to empty their bladder at regular intervals. If your pooch has urinated just before going to the bed, the chances of inappropriate elimination are decreased. Likewise, you can limit their water intake during the evening to keep their bladders empty. 

Use Potty Pads

Placing potty pads on your pup’s bed can be another useful technique to avoid the mess. Adding a towel or blanket is also recommended because it will make the cleaning process easier. This method is particularly helpful for dogs who are suffering from arthritis and don’t like to go outside.

Get Washable Bed Covers

Brown dog laying on a dog bed with a polkadot blanket

This preventative technique aims to save your dog’s bed from getting wet. These waterproof covers keep the foam clean by absorbing all the urine during the night. You can also place a pee pad between the cover and the bed to ensure nothing soaks through. Alternatively, you can invest in an orthopedic dog bed that comes with a waterproof backing.

Clean the Area of Accident

Wiping the floor is not enough to prevent your dog from urinating again in that spot. This is because they have a strong sense of smell and will be able to trace their urine. Therefore, you should enzymatic cleaners to clean the area. It will eliminate the urine completely and keep your house fresh.

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