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Leaking urine after swimming.

Species: Dog
Breed: Golden Doodle
Age: 2-5 years
I have a 5 year old female (spayed) Golden Doodle. We take her swimming several times a week in a clear sandy pond with very clean water (formed from a glacial kettle, so only water in & out is via rain, evaporation and the aquifer). The pond has a swimming beach with lifeguards and is monitored for bacteria by the town health department. A typical swim we do, with her swimming along beside me, is half a mile or so. Starting about a month or so ago, whenever we'd do these swims, for roughly the following 12 hours, she leaks urine. It only happens after these swims. On days we don't swim, no leaks. She also goes to doggy day care once a week, upon her return from she is very tired. She has no leakage problems associated with day care. She was just checked for a urinary track infection a week ago, and nothing showed up (no bacteria, no crystals, etc.) She does get vaccinated every year for Leptospirosis, but the vet will take a blood sample in the next day or two to check for a Lepto infection anyway. My vet, so far, is baffled. Just curious if you've ever heard of anything like this.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

That's an unusual situation! I can't say that I have ever seen a dog that leaks urine after swimming.

My best guess would be that Lucy is starting to get something called USMI (urethral sphincter mechanism incontinence). (I just wrote an article about this that you can read here: USMI in dogs

Does the leaking happen when she is resting? If so, then this is probably what is going on. But, if it is when she is running around and active then there is another issue.

As to why this would only happen after she is swimming, that's a bit of a mystery. I suppose it is possible that she uses different muscles when swimming and so perhaps certain muscles get more fatigued than they do at daycare which could make the leaking worse.

If it is USMI you will likely find that the leaking gets worse as time goes by and may not just be associated with swimming. The good news, though, is that if this is USMI then there are great treatments that are not difficult. I've described them in the article.

This is an interesting case and I will keep thinking on it. If I come up with any more ideas I'll let you know.

Dr. Marie.


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Thanks. As far as I can tell, the leaking occurs only when she is resting. I guess the leaking does not require a full bladder either, as my house has a doggy door, and she can go outside (even in winter) any time she wants, 24-7. And this dog maybe had one accident during house breaking, so if she felt her bladder feeling "full", she'd definitely go out and empty it.

The correlation with the long quarter-to-half-mile swims is 100%. If on walks, she jumps in a pond and does short swims to, say, retrieve a thrown stick, she does not have this issue. But on those swims she might, in the course of several retrievals, only have swum 100-200 feet.

I'll let you know if the lepto test shows anything, and I'll ask my vet about USMI.


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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.