How to Care for an Incontinent Dog

Bladder weakness increases as dogs age.
portrait of old husky dog image by sarit saliman from

Old age, infection, paralysis and bladder weakness can all cause incontinence in dogs. While treatable in cases of infection, incontinence is typically a chronic problem that requires management. As a responsible pet owner, it is imperative that you enable your dog to live a life that's as comfortable and free of stress as possible. With an incontinent dog, this calls for attentive care that ensures cleanliness of his immediate environment and compassion in the case of accidents.

Step 1

Rearrange your dog’s living area so he has quick access to the door. If you dog is suffering from age-related incontinence, the problem is typically compounded by mobility problems. Make it as easy as possible for your dog to get to the outdoors. Move obstructions such as chairs. If you have polished floors, put down some mats so he doesn’t slip while rushing to the door.

Step 2

Monitor your dog’s routine. Dogs typically need to relieve themselves after drinking, first thing in the morning and intermittently throughout the day. Make a note of the times that your dog typically needs to go out, and make sure you encourage him into the garden in good time to meet his needs. Dogs are instinctively clean, and they become anxious if their immediate environment is soiled, so it’s very important to help your dog go in his normal spot when possible.

Step 3

Note the tell-tale signs that your dog needs to go outside. Pacing near the door, scratching at the door, circling and whining are all signs your dog needs to go out.

Step 4

Monitor your dog’s water intake. Excessive drinking combined with incontinence is a potential symptom of diabetes. If your dog is drinking more than normal, take him to the vet for a checkup.

Step 5

Let your dog go outside regularly. This provides him the opportunity to empty his bladder without urgent need. Reward the dog each time he goes outside, using a food treat or toy. This reinforces a positive association with going outside and will encourage him to repeat the behavior.

Step 6

Remove and clean any soiled bedding. Replace it with fresh bedding.

Step 7

Lay some absorbent, waterproof pads on top of your dog’s regular bedding. This makes it easier to clean up and prevents the dog from having to sleep in a damp, uncomfortable place.

Step 8

Place newspaper or waterproof padding down near the door. If your dog is severely incontinent, it may not be possible for him to let you know in sufficient time that he needs to go out. If your dog relieves himself on the padding or paper, give him a food treat to encourage this.


  • Never punish or scold a dog for having an accident.

Items You Will Need

  • Food treats
  • Toys
  • Clean bedding
  • Newspapers
  • Absorbent pads



About the Author

Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for

Photo Credits

  • portrait of old husky dog image by sarit saliman from