Urinary incontinence in dogs from prednisone is not an unusual problem. Prednisone is a drug known for causing a variety of side effects and urinary incontinence is among one of the most common. Dog owners may notice just small dribbles of urine where the dog lies down or larger puddles. Regardless of the amount of urine emitted, it's always a good idea to inform the vet about the urinary incontinence. Possible urinary incontinence in dogs from prednisone may warrant some investigation to ensure that there are not other potential medical issues going on. Regular urine tests and blodwork is recommended for dogs on long-term steroids.
Urinary Incontinence in Dogs From Prednisone
Prednisone is a steroid drug that falls under the category of synthetic hormones known as glucocorticoids. These drugs are very strong in treating inflammation, help in increasing appetite and, at certain high doses, are capable of lowering the immune response.
Prednisone is therefore often prescribed for allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, Addison's disease, certain types of cancer and auto-immune disorders.
Regardless of what prednisone is prescribed for, it's a drug known to cause a variety of side effects. Among these side effects, prednisone is known for causing increased drinking and increased urination.
The increase in the production of urine is what ultimately triggers the dog to drink so to keep up with the fluid loss. If your dog is constantly lapping up a bowl of water, it may be tempting to restrict access to water.
While the intent may be benign so to prevent the dog from having accidents, removing access to water to a dog on prednisone is not recommended and can actually be dangerous, leading to dehydration and other complications.
"Restricting water is very dangerous for a dog being administered corticosteroids."~Dr, Michael Salkin, veterinarian
Urinary Tract Infections from Prednisone
Prednisone can predispose dogs to infections. If your dog is prescribed prednisone for the long haul, it's important to montior him carefully for signs of trouble. Urinary tract infections in dogs taking prednisone are not uncommon and prednisone may mask the symptoms.
To make things even more confusing, urinary tract infections tend to cause increased drinking and increased urination as well and therefore it may be difficult determining whether these symptoms are coming from a urinary tract infection or if they are just a side effect from the prednisone.
Its therefore important testing the dog's urine regularly for signs of infection while taking prednisone. A urine sample can be easily collected by sliding a clean tupperware container under the dog and then bringing the fresh sample to the appointment.
By looking at the urine sample, veterinarians can detect the presence of bacteria or white blood cells in the urine which are signs of a potential urinary tract infection. A urine culture is recommended.
Onset of Diabetes from Prednisone
Prednisone is a drug that has a tendency to increase blood glucose levels (glucogenic), especially in dogs who do not have 100 percent control of their blood glucose levels.
In dogs who are pre-diabetic, the administration of steroids long-term may therefore potentially cause the onset of diabetes. Although the onset of diabetes is more commonly seen in long-term use of steroids, a dog who is sitting at the edge of developing diabetes can be pushed over the edge with even just one single dose of prednisone, explains veterinarian Dr. Joey.
Sadly, the prednisone-induced diabetes in such a case is usually not reversible once the prednisone is stopped, although in some cases, improvement of diabetes a month or two after starting treatment may be possible.
In dogs already suffering from diabetes, prednisone makes the insulin prescribed to manage the diabetes less effective and can therefore require higher glucose dosages making treating a diabetic more difficult. " I rarely use it in a diabetic patient for this reason unless it is absolutely necessary," points out veterinarian Dr. Christian K.
To make things more complicated, the symptoms of diabetes mellitus in dogs are similar to the side effects seen in dogs taking prednisone. Therefore, dog owners may see increased drinking, increased urination and increased appetite and not know whether it's frome the onset of diabetes or the effect of the medication.
To differentiate the two it would be important to have a complete blood panel and urinalysis performed so to rule out or identify diabetes.
Incontinence in Aging Dogs and Prednisone
As mentioned, increased drinking and increased urination are two of the most common side effects of prednisone in dogs. Because prednisone also causes muscle wasting especially when used long-term, it is possible to also see some degree of relaxation of the muscular tone affecting the dog's bladder sphincter.
The combination of increased urine flow and a weaker bladder sphincter will therefore often result in incontinence in dogs on prednisone, explains veterinarian Dr. Pete.
Many dogs affected are often dogs who were already marginally incontinent and the medication has therefore acted as a trigger. In simple words, the affected dog may have had a weak sphincter for some time, but it didn't leak because the dog at that time wasn't drinking as much water.
Loss of bladder tone is particularly common in spayed female dogs as they age, but it can be seen in male dogs too. The incontinence may appear intermittently or it may be more of a chronic issue. In the case of urinary incontinence in dogs from prednisone, it may therefore be a good idea to consult with the vet s to determine whether a weak sphincter may be a possibility. A prescription for phenylpropanolamine (Proin) may help in these cases so to strengthen the dog's urethra muscle control.
Tips for Urinary Incontinence in Dogs From Prednisone
There are several things that dog owners can do to manage the situation of urinary incontinence in dogs from prednisone. Fortunately, in many cases, the incontinence is just temporary and subsides once the dog is weaned off from thr prednisone. In cases of long-term use, there are several options to make the situation more bearable.
Take the Dog Out Frequently
Taking the dog out frequently is the best way to prevent messes in the house, bedding and the onset of annoying urine scald. It's not a bad idea to take the dog out every 2 to 3 hours if excessive drinking is observed.
Prevent Messes on Bedding
Dog owners may protect the dog's bedding from getting repeatedly soiled by placing a plastic sheet over it and then several towels over that.
Avoid Urine Scald
When urine stays in contact with a dog's skin for too long, it may lead to annoying urine scald. To prevent this, it's important to wash the dog as often as necessary.
Never Stop Prednisone Abruptly!
When dealing with urinary incontinence in dogs from prednisone or any other side effects, it may be tempting to stop the medication at once so to reduce any side effects. This should be avoided unless advised by a vet. Stopping the prednisone too quickly fails to allow the dog's adrenal glands from restarting their production of natural cortisone. This can lead to significant problems.
If th prednisone needs to be stopped, it should therefore be stopped gradually over the course of several days following the veterinarian's exact instructions.
If the incontinence was triggered as a direct cause of the prednisone, then after gradually weaning the dog off, the incontinence should gradually subside as the drug is cleared completely out of the body. In some cases, where he benefits outweigh the risks, vets may decide the try to lower the dosage of prednisone and see if it helps treat the primary medical condition it was prescribed for, while reducing the excessive drinking and urination.