The generosity of pet parents with handi-capable dogs and cats never ceases to amaze me. When a pet mom wrote to Lessons From A Paralyzed Dog asking for advice on how to keep her incontinent dog dry and prevent urine scald from making the poor dog’s skin raw, I considered sharing the tips I used for Sophie.
Then after giving it more thought I decided to open the conversation on our Facebook page. I thought there might be some new products on the market I didn’t know about or some helpful techniques other pet parents were using. The response was overwhelming as dozens of people shared their favorite tips to keep an incontinent dog dry. Many of the ideas were completely new to me and I appreciate everyone who shared their advice.
Several pet parents asked if I could compile a list of these suggestions so they could keep it on hand. You will find that list below.
Before you read the list and post it on your refrigerator door I have one small request; please check with your pet’s personal veterinarian before you try any of these products or techniques. Every case of paralysis and incontinence is unique and only your veterinarian fully understands your dog’s complete medical condition. Please let your vet be the authority before trying any of the suggestions below.
Why do incontinent dogs get urine scald?
Urine is an acidic substance that can burn and irritate sensitive skin if it’s allowed to remain in contact with the skin for a long period of time. It happens when urine hits the skin on their lower belly because of an overflowing bladder or constant dribbling. Urine scald is painful and causes a rash to develop. When you think about urine scald, picture a human infant with a bad case of diaper rash. We all know that is no fun.
In a previous story I posted how a paralyzed dog with a leaky bladder can wind up lying in his own urine for hours because he can’t reach to clean his soiled skin or move away from a puddle of urine. The problem can quickly escalate to urine scald which in turn causes pain for the dog.
Here is the list of pet parents’ favorite tips to keep an incontinent dog dry:
- UTI – First check with your veterinarian for the possibility of a Urinary Tract Infection. Sometimes a leaky bladder is a symptom of a UTI which needs medical attention.
- Express – The best method to keep a dog dry and redirect urine flow away from the body is by setting up regular/routine times to express their bladder. (Sophie’s bladder was emptied 4 times a day, every day.) If you don’t know how to do this, it is a skill worth learning from your veterinarian.
- Baby Wipes and a Soft Towel – Keep your dog’s skin clean with baby wipes and dry with a clean, soft, fluffy towel.
- Proin – Check with your veterinarian to see if Proin is right for your dog. This oral medication works by tightening the urethral sphincter to control leakage.
- Barrier Creams – Be sure the product does not contain zinc oxide which is dangerous for dogs. Some of pet parents’ favorites are: A and D ointment without zinc oxide, Vaseline, Udder Ointment, oconut oil (don’t let a dog ingest too much) and organic chamomile and echinacea lotion.
- Cornstarch – This household product is used as a topical barrier to neutralize the acid in urine.
- Medicated and Baby Powders – Powders that do not contain talc are used to keep skin dry.
- Apple Cider Vinegar and Cranberry – Apple cider vinegar is used externally to neutralize urine and cranberry is added to a dog’s diet to prevent leakage due to a UTI.
- Calmoseptine Cream – One pet parent whose dog is enrolled in the Iowa State School of Veterinary Medicine Clinical Trials for Paralyzed Dogs impressed the staff with how well this cream improved her dog’s skin. Calmoseptine is available at drug stores and is formulated to treat minor burns. The product contains zinc oxide so be sure to ask your vet if the amount of zinc in the cream is okay for your dog. The cream can also be used to treat the sores paralyzed dogs get from dragging his feet.
- Antifungal, Antiseptic, Antimicrobial and Antibiotic Creams and Sprays – Some of the top brands used most often are Vetericyn Wound & Skin Care, Soothe & Cool Perineal No-Rinse Wash and American Kennel Club Tea Tree Soothing Spray. Be sure to check with your veterinarian before starting any over-the-counter medications.
- Belly Bands – Some pet parents loved these while others did not. Some were resourceful and handmade belly bands from ace bandages and Velcro, while others purchased custom or ready-made bands for male dogs. Barkertime makes custom bands and HandicappedPets.com had ready-made products in a wide variety of sizes. Belly bands work with an absorbent pad tucked inside.
- Diapers – Many pet parents love their brand of diaper whether it be a doggie diaper or baby diaper. Their suggestion was to try several brands until you find one that works best. Several people used overnight diapers because they are extra absorbent. Diapers are designed to pull moisture away from the skin and are good at reducing urine scald.
- Wheelchair – One pet parent found that her dog’s wheelchair placed her male dog in a natural position that helped to fully empty the bladder.
- Ask Your Vet – Not all Urinary Tract Infections are alike. It’s important to ask your vet to culture the urine to determine the specific bacteria involved. Then a targeted treatment plan can be ordered.
- Get A Referral – If your dog has recurring UTIs or one that’s resistant to treatment, ask your vet for a referral to a Veterinary Internist. A specialist has access to extensive treatments and could even prescribe a human medication. For instance, Baclofen is a drug given to human paraplegics to improve their bladder health.
Thank you again to everyone who left their advice and tips. I know your suggestions will help a dog struggling with incontinence. If you have any other tips to keep incontinent dogs dry, please leave a comment.
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