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Help! My Senior Dog is Having Accidents

Woman sitting in a comforable chair petting her beagle

Accidents are common with dogs of all ages. However, they often become more frequent as your canine friend grows old. Many owners believe that aging is the culprit, but several medical causes could also be responsible for this change. Keep reading to know why your senior dog is having accidents and learn some useful ways to counter them.

Why is My Senior Dog Having Accidents?

Occasional accidents are not a problem but if your house-trained pup is often peeing in the house, something’s wrong. Several causes can be responsible for this frustrating change and they can be divided into the following categories.  

Medical Reasons

Pug on a vet table with a vet smiling in the background.

Many dogs find it difficult to hold their pee when they grow old. This is because different medical illnesses can cause frequent urination and incontinence. Some of these diseases (and conditions) are discussed below.

Hormonal Changes – This usually happens with female dogs because a lack of estrogen makes them incontinent.

Weak Sphincter Muscles – Senior dogs lose control over their bladders because they lose muscle tone. Likewise, some neurological problems can also affect the efficiency of these muscles. Autoimmune diseases and tumors are among the most common examples of these conditions.

Arthritis – This is a common problem with older canines that causes joint pain and stiffness. It limits their movement and they are not able to get outside to relieve themselves. Hence, your senior dog doesn’t always need to be incontinent if he/she is having accidents.

Pug with head side tilted on an orange background.

 Canine Cognitive Dysfunction – Aging has the same impact on dogs as it has on humans. Hence, canines can also forget things they once knew as their cognitive function declines. This is why senior dogs ignore their house training and start peeing in the house.

Urinary Tract Infections – These infections cause frequent urination and your senior pooch can start eliminating inappropriately. Even if he/she is not incontinent, they just can’t go outside so often. Although they are generally easy to treat with an antibiotic, urinary tract infections can result in serious complications if left untreated.

Diabetes – It is another common condition among senior dogs that causes accidents. Excessive thirst is another useful symptom that can help you indicate diabetes. However, a trip to the visit will be required for a proper diagnosis.

Cushing’s Disease – Just like diabetes, excessive thirst and urination are the biggest signs of this problem. The exact prognosis of Cushing’s disease is dependent on its severity and professional help is recommended.

Emotional Causes

Border collie with head and front paws over the top of a green wall

If your veterinarian has ruled out all the medical issues and your senior dog is still having accidents, it could be due to the following factors.

Stress – It is one of the most vital contributors to your senior dog’s incontinence. Older pups become much more sensitive and any change in their routine will affect them. Hence, they will make behavioral changes to show their feelings, and urinating in the house is one of them.

Territorial Marking – This usually happens when a senior dog is shifted to a new place. Whether you have adopted an older dog and changed homes, the possibility of this behavior is there. However, this problem is easier to solve because you just need some firm corrective measures.

What to Do if My Senior Dog is Having Accidents?

Tan dog laying on concrete

It is very frustrating when your house-trained senior dog starts having accidents. It is equally disturbing for your canine companion because they are not doing this on purpose. Hence, you need to stay calm and employ useful treatments and preventative techniques to address this problem. Some of the steps that you can take to minimize senior dog accidents are as follows.

Never Scold Your Dog

Shouting at your senior pooch is a very bad idea because it won’t help the situation. Instead, it will make things even worse by making your dog stressed, which will lead to more accidents. Your dog may also try to hide the evidence, and it will become harder to detect and clean the mess. Most house-trained canines feel ashamed of themselves when they have an accident and will need your care and support.

Clean the Area

2 yellow gloved hands scrubbing a tile floor

It is extremely important to wipe the spot clean after an accident. Cleaning with just water is not enough and you will need enzymatic cleaners. This is because dogs have a very strong sense of smell and will be attracted to urinate at that spot. An enzymatic cleaner breaks down the molecules to deal with the nasty odor of the urine.

Find the Underlying Reason

It’s highly recommended to take your dog to a vet for a detailed examination to determine the cause of the accidents. He/she will perform some tests to rule out several possibilities. The medical history of your canine friend can also help the vet with the diagnosis. For example, a dog that has suffered from recurrent UTIs can develop kidney disease.

Once the problem has been identified, the vet will prescribe a suitable plan of treatment. In case of infections, an antibiotic is prescribed while serious medical complications, like Cushing’s disease, may require surgical intervention. Dementia and other conditions that can’t be cured will be handled by minimizing their symptoms.

If your senior dog is physically healthy and still having accidents, an emotional reason could be the culprit. In that case, try to find out the triggers and eliminate them to solve the problem.

Take Some Preventative Measures

Dachsund standing next to a pee pad

Whether the problem of your senior dog is curable or not, you need to ensure that your home stays clean. The following are some tips that can help you achieve this goal.

  • Invest in dog diapers.
  • Get a waterproof couch cover for your furniture.
  • Buy potty pads and place them everywhere around the house.
  • Use a stain and odor remover to keep your home fresh.

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