"My old Vizsla girl keeps leaking urine in her bed. I don’t think she is consciously aware of it. What could be the cause?" – John
Thank you for your question John. This is a common problem that is encountered by many dog owners of elderly, female dogs. There can be several reasons why this is happening and it is best to get your girl checked out by a vet to get a firm diagnosis, but I hope the following information is useful to you.
The first, and most common reason, for unconscious urine leakage is a condition called Urethral Sphincter Mechanism Incompetence (USMI). The urethral sphincter is a muscular band closing the exit to your dog’s bladder. It has more tone the more oestrogen it has come into contact with. This means that female dogs who have been spayed, especially those which were spayed prior to their first season, have more risk of developing USMI later in life. The good news is that it can be successfully controlled with a daily medicated syrup, available from your vets.
The second reason for urine leakage is a spinal issue. The nerves which control the bladder and urethral sphincter stem from the lower spine, and so anything impinging on this area will disrupt their action. This could include full or partial slipped discs, spinal malformations, and arthritis in the spine. There are various different treatment options depending on the cause, and your vet will be able to advise you further.
Finally, leaking urine could be due to a primary urinary tract issue, such as kidney or bladder stones, infections or kidney disease. These issues may require tests such as a urinalysis or blood test to be done. It is always worth ruling out these things first, even though USMI is far more common, as if a urinary tract condition is overlooked it can have bad consequences. A urinalysis is easy and cheap to perform on a free catch urine sample.