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Incontinence and balance issues.

Species: Dog
Breed: Mixed Breed
Age: 6-12 months
We have a dog breed and age unknown is a stray all of a sudden she has started wetting herself in her sleep but it is continuing while she is awake. She also seems as if she is unable to stand up without falling over. What might be the cause of these issues?


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh, I am sorry to hear that Baby Girl is having problems.

There are a few things that can cause the symptoms you mentioned.

Sometimes a spayed female dog will become incontinent and have difficulty holding her bladder when resting or asleep. This problem is quite easily treated with medication prescribed by your vet. However, this condition does not cause balance issues, so I don't think this is what we are dealing with.

While I can't say for sure what is going on it sounds like something serious enough to have your vet take a look.

It is possible that she has a problem with her spinal cord. This could be from an injury to her back or it could be a problem with the discs between her vertebrae or a condition called FCE where a piece of cartilage affects the spinal cord. These conditions will cause problems with the nerves that affect the back end of the body. Any of these conditions could cause her to be wobbly on her back end. And, they could possibly cause her to have difficulties with consciously emptying her bladder and therefore the urine just leaks out once her bladder is full.

It is also possible that she has gotten into something that has damaged her kidneys such as antifreeze, certain plants or a condition called leptospirosis. If this were the case the kidneys could be producing a very large amount of urine which is causing her to be incontinent. While kidney disease doesn't directly cause problems with balance, a dog that is really sick with kidney disease can be quite weak.

Another possibility, if she is not spayed is that she has an infection in her uterus called pyometra. While some dogs with pyometra have a gross pus discharge from their vulva, some have what is called a closed pyometra where the pus builds up in her uterus. This pus is very toxic and causes kidney damage. Pyometra is extremely serious. The treatment is to have her spayed immediately.

I would highly advise a vet visit as soon as possible for Baby Girl. Many of the conditions I mentioned above are treatable if we get to them early enough.

I would love to hear about how you make out at the vet's office.

I really hope she is ok.

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.

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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.