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Is My Dog Experiencing Cystitis, Incontinence or Bladder Tumor and How to Treat It?


Dear VetBabble,

My dog seems to be having a hard time holding her bladder, even though I take her outside frequently. She always relieves herself outside, but when she comes back in, she keeps dribbling everywhere. I’m worried that she may have cystitis, incontinence, or even a bladder tumor. What steps should I take to ensure she gets the proper treatment?

Your Dog’s Bladder Control Issues

Thanks for reaching out, and I can understand how concerned you must be about your dog’s health. It’s crucial to consult with your veterinarian about your dog’s bladder issues, as they will be able to carry out a thorough examination and provide an accurate diagnosis. In this article, we’ll take a look at some common causes for your dog’s inability to hold her bladder and discuss potential treatment options for each.

1. Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

Urinary tract infections are a common cause of bladder control issues in dogs. UTIs can cause your dog to leak urine continuously and make them feel the need to urinate frequently. If your dog is suffering from a UTI, she will likely show signs of discomfort or pain while urinating. Other symptoms may include foul-smelling urine, blood in the urine, or increased water intake.

In order to diagnose and appropriately treat a UTI, your veterinarian will need a urine sample from your dog. Based on the findings, they may prescribe oral antibiotics to clear the infection. Ensure that your dog completes the full course of antibiotics, even if her symptoms improve, in order to prevent the infection from recurring.

2. Spay Urinary Incontinence

Spay urinary incontinence is another common cause of bladder control issues in female dogs. This condition usually affects spayed female dogs and is more common in those that were spayed before their first heat cycle. This type of incontinence typically manifests as a small, constant dribble of urine, especially while the dog is resting or asleep. Your dog may not even realize that she’s leaking urine.

If your veterinarian identifies spay urinary incontinence as the cause of your dog’s bladder control problems, they may prescribe medications to strengthen the muscles around the urethra. In some cases, a veterinarian may also recommend hormone replacement therapy, which can help alleviate symptoms. It’s essential to follow your veterinarian’s recommendations and monitor your dog’s condition closely in order to find the most effective treatment for her.

3. Cystitis and Blood in the Urine

It’s essential not to overlook the possibility of cystitis or other bladder inflammation if you notice blood in your dog’s urine. Cystitis can lead to increased pressure within the bladder and difficulty in controlling urination. In addition to blood in the urine, other symptoms may include frequent attempts to urinate, straining to urinate, or excessive licking of the genital area.

Upon diagnosing cystitis, your veterinarian will likely prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs and pain management medications to alleviate your dog’s symptoms. In some cases, dietary changes or supplements may be recommended to support bladder health in the long term.

4. Possible Bladder Tumors

While it’s less common than the other causes mentioned above, it’s still crucial to consider the possibility of a bladder tumor, especially if your dog is older. Bladder tumors can cause similar symptoms to those of UTIs, cystitis, and urinary incontinence. To diagnose a bladder tumor, your veterinarian will perform imaging studies such as X-rays or ultrasounds, and may also recommend a biopsy to identify the type of tumor present.

Treatment for bladder tumors varies depending on the type and stage of the tumor. Surgical intervention may be necessary, but other options such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or targeted medications could be considered, depending on your dog’s specific situation.


It’s crucial to consult with your veterinarian about your dog’s bladder control issues. Keep an eye out for any additional symptoms, and do not hesitate to provide your vet with information about your dog’s behavior, including any changes in her daily routine. Your vet will be able to carry out a thorough examination, provide an accurate diagnosis and recommend the most appropriate course of treatment for your dog’s specific needs. Remember, early intervention can lead to a better outcome in many cases, so don’t hesitate to reach out to your veterinarian if you have concerns about your dog’s bladder control.

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