As your dog ages, health changes can lead to lapses in house breaking. This is a frustrating problem for both you and your pet. It’s important that senior dogs receive regular physical exams and that house soiling issues are appropriately evaluated and addressed.

A urine accident in the house could be a signal of an underlying medical problem. A urinary tract infection can cause discomfort and can be corrected with appropriate antibiotics. Certain medical conditions can cause excessive thirst in a dog. As water intake increases, the bladder fills more quickly triggering the need for more frequent trips outside. Kidney disease, diabetes, liver disease, and some endocrine diseases cause excessive thirst and urination. These conditions can be identified with labwork and often controlled with medication.

An older female dog with low estrogen levels can develop urinary incontinence and medication can prevent urine leaking in the house. Older male dogs may have prostate problems that affect urination and it’s important these physical changes are identified.

Aging changes in the gastrointestinal tract can lead to diarrhea or fecal incontinence. An adjustment to a dog’s diet and feeding routine might be necessary to prevent accidental defecation in the house.

Arthritis in a geriatric dog can inhibit mobility. Addressing underlying pain can help them navigate stairs to go outside and to properly position their body while eliminating.

Cognitive dysfunction can cause signs of senility. Older dogs might forget commands and become confused, reducing their ability to get to their usual elimination areas.

If your senior dog is having accidents in the house, don’t assume this is part of the normal aging process.

  1. Schedule an appointment for a thorough physical exam including a cognitive dysfunction screen and appropriate laboratory testing.
  2. Establish a frequent, regular schedule for trips outside and guide your dog to the elimination area.
  3. Provide a fixed diet and feeding schedule.