Thursday, September 18, 2014

Dog Incontinence - A Personal Experience

After trying to find a viable solution for an incontinent male Siberian Husky, I've come to the conclusion that all "mainstream" dog incontinence products are worthless.

These big businesses really need to get OUT of the mindset of "it will keep the urine from your furniture and carpeting" and INTO the mindset of "it will keep your dog dry so they won't get urine soaked and skin sores".  I realize that their sales come from people who can't be bothered to train their dogs properly, or want a quick fix to potty issues, but honestly, those people are more likely to dump their pets, than deal with the actual problem.  They need to cater to those of us who have gimpy dogs that may have incontinence issues, want our dogs to be comfortable, and not develop urine burned skin and sores!

This post will explain what we've tried.  What works and what doesn't work.  Your experience may vary.  Sam is pretty much immobile, which means we have to put diapers on while he's sitting, and we can't lay him on his back (which adds to the fun).

I've put the "What Does Work" at the top so you can easily see there are a variety of different solutions that actually work.  After that, I've posted some things we tried and didn't work (for us) so that you can see what we tried, and how it didn't meet the needs of our dog.

What Does Work?

We've found that shaving or trimming the groin area of fur helps keep the urine from soaking into the skin and causing sores.  It's easier to clean, and it's much easier to spread a diaper rash cream down there to help keep the urine from reaching the skin and healing irritated skin.  PLEASE NOTE: Zinc Oxide can make your dog sick if they lick it, so if you are using a zinc oxide cream, make sure they're wearing a diaper so they can't lick it.  I have yet to find anything that works as well to prevent rash and treat rash other than Zinc Oxide diaper rash creams, so just be careful.

So, keep the groin area clean and dry.  Find products that keep the urine from them when they're sleeping, and get ready to do a lot of washing (especially if you don't use disposable items).

Cleaning Solutions

No matter how diligent you are, accidents will happen, so you'll need something to clean your dog's fur and groin area.  "Dry" shampoos are fantastic, but the pet stores only peddle that frou-frou perfumey crap that is marketed toward making your dog smell nice, not necessarily cleaning them.

For areas they can't reach, we've used the "everything free" baby wipes that don't contain a lot of chemicals.  If your dog is still grooming (licking) you don't want to use things that may make them sick, so just be aware of ingredients, even in those all natural, no preservative wipes in the stores.

The best cleaning solution is one used by vets:

QuikClean Waterless Shampoo

Also available through most vet supply stores, it doesn't have a perfumey odor, it cleans VERY well, and it's safe for pets.  Highly recommend it.  It's pricey, but it works and a little bit goes a long way.

Covers (washable):

For the bed (Sam sleeps with us) we have a Mambe waterproof pet blanket.  I can't say enough about how great these are.  Washable, 100% waterproof, large enough for your dog to lay comfortably on.  Unfortunately they won't keep the urine from soaking your pet, but they make a great base unit for the other items.  The other con is that they take a LOOOONG time to dry in the dryer.  I admit that if the pup piddled in a small area, I would use the wand of our spotbot to spray cleaner, then suck it up well instead of washing the whole blanket.

Another highly recommended product (to either use to cover the Mambe, or by themselves) are the Pawsse Waterproof dog blankets.  Our source says that they wash and dry faster, and are amazing, they don't slip and slid around.

Another possible solution is the PetAmi fleecy Dog Blanket.

We use the Sofnit washable pads as the next layer of protection.  They absorb liquid, but once again they don't absorb it and provide a barrier to keep your dog dry (I don't think they make such a thing that is washable, but if you know of something, let me know).

We also use the EZWelp pads, which are amazing, very absorbent and soft.  We also use them on dog beds, and in spots in the house where our other dogs "sympathy" pee.  If you have more than one dog and one is disabled, you may find that your other dogs get the idea that if HE can pee in the house, so can they.  Get ready for that fun.

Your dog (like Sam) may not like laying on top of all of those pee pads, so we just use them for his back end, where all of the fluids come from.

Covers (Disposable)

For temporary sitting places we cover the bed or floor with the cheaper dog pee pads.  You can get 100 of them at Costco pretty cheap. also has very cost effective pee pads here

We also use them to help clean Sam up as they are pretty absorbent and soak up a lot of urine in places that are hard to reach (creases of the leg, etc.) and you can also place them in front of the penis to catch more urine because when you clean using the moist towelettes, they tend to stimulate more pee, causing more clean up.

We also recommend McKesson disposable pads. They absorb more of the fluid, but once again, it won't totally keep your pet dry, but are very absorbable and can be used to wipe off your pet and soak up heavy "spills".

Pads will only do so much, so diapers and belly bands are the way to go to make sure the urine doesn't get on their skin (or at least contained to a small part of skin).  

Belly Bands (Disposable)

We've learned that some of the best absorbable and disposable belly bands are adult incontinence briefs or baby diapers.

Incontinence Briefs

We've been using the Tena Super Briefs for times when there is the most urinating (at night, or when we're away at work).  They're very soft and absorb a LOT of liquid for night time accidents.  We do cut off the wings, especially the tabs because they're kinda harsh and may irritate the skin.  You can cut off two of the little velcro-like tabs to secure them, and we hold them on with the EZ Welp Belly bands (see farther down).

Briefs used as belly bands with an external belly band to hold it on work well, and you don't have to buy the name brand ones for good absorbency.  Your pharmacy brand incontinence briefs will work just fine.

Baby Diapers

Baby diapers are GREAT for belly bands if you know how to modify them to fit.  If you have a small dog, you can probably just wrap it around them like a normal belly band and attach the velcro tabs to the other side.  If you have a larger dog, you can still use them with just a pair of scissors.

Here is a great website that will show you how to cut a baby diaper and fashion a belly band without any sewing: Click here for the site.

Actual dog belly bands cost about 84 cents per belly band.  Baby diapers cost about 47 cents per diaper (for name-brand Pampers, you can probably find even cheaper generics that work just as well).  Baby diapers are manufactured to keep the urine from the baby's skin, which is exactly what you also need for your pup.  I use Pampers Cruisers because they come in the larger size 7 and they work very well.

Belly Bands (Washable)

If you are dealing with only urinary incontinence, then I highly recommend the EZWelp belly bands.  These are PERFECT!!!

They are made from the exact same material as the EZWelp pee pads, so they are super absorbent, super lightweight, and comfortable.  I also love that the velcro is sewn up and down instead of just at the ends.  This gives you the ability to fit them tighter or looser.  Remember, the brown side goes toward the dog.  You can attach an incontinence pad inside them, so if there's some leakage outside of that pad, the EZWelp material will absorb it.  They can also be used as an additional wrap to make sure the disposable incontinence brief or baby diaper stays on, and will catch anything those leak out (if anything).

The EZWelp products are available on Amazon for quick delivery!

Things That Didn't Work

Male dogs are different.  Different sizes, different penis placement, different everything.  Belly bands do NOT work for male dogs whose penis is located back between their legs.  Don't waste your money on them if your dog's penis is closer to between their legs.

Dog diapers are geared more toward female dogs.  They are not long enough on the belly for male dogs, and absorbent padding is located more toward the back, and the tail holes are too small.  I understand that they are trying to keep all solids and fluids from leaking out, but when you try to cram a fluffy husky tail through a tiny hole with an elastic band around it... not comfortable for the dog at all. 

ENOUGH of the elastic band crap!  I get the concept that you want it snug, but the elastic is always too tight, so you risk shutting off blood flow, or irritating their skin (which is already irritated enough already).  Make the diaper wider and adjustable at the body wrap area so that it snugs up on the legs, don't throw elastic in there!

Sizing.  Don't believe the sizing.  Go bigger.  The Large that fits a dog that weighs 35-55lbs... doesn't.  No way, no how.  It's as if the manufacturer took a baby diaper and cut a tail hole in it, it doesn't fit.  Not long enough for a male dog, won't wrap around in the front, and the lame attachment semi-velcro thing... worthless.  

Sam weighs 40lbs, and has a 27 inch waist.  We bought large (because it claims to fit dogs 35-55lbs).  It doesn't.  I'll be honest, we haven't wasted our money getting the XLarge size because I doubt it would work either.
  • Not wide enough.  The back doesn't come anywhere near the bottom part so you can't attach the two sides together.
  • The "velcro" is worthless, pops off easily.
  • Elastic legs cut into the dog if you try to stretch them out.
  • Bottom part doesn't go to mid-dog, therefore a male dog will simply peek out from the edge and pee everywhere.
  • Padding is more toward the back, so even if the penis is contained, it's in a non-absorbent part of the diaper and worthless.
The washable version has the same issues, although it does fit Sam, it's not long enough on the belly.  You also need to use some kind of absorbable pad to catch the pee, because the inside lining couldn't absorb a sneeze.  The elastic is very binding as well.

Will do in a pinch, but use an incontinence pad (cheaper to buy the human variety than the kind Top Paw sells)

Pee Pads

Once again, these are marketed toward potty training, or dogs that may piddle in the house, they are not created to use to lay your dog on so that the urine is absorbed and keep your pet dry.  I find them useful to use to cover dogs beds that they may be laying or sitting on for short periods of time to keep the steam cleaning and laundry down to a minimum.

If you are looking for something that will help absorb urine while they sleep (longer term time spent), then go with human-grade bed pads.  You can find cheaper ones on Amazon in bulk, but they still won't keep the urine from your dog's fur.  Disposable human-grade bed pads work better to absorb the urine, so using those in conjunction with the washable pads is a good practice.

Baby Diapers

If you have a small dog, then baby diapers are absolutely a good solution.    All you have to do is cut a hole for the tail and you're good to go. But if you have a dog that's over 35lbs... no.  They don't make baby diapers that big.  You can use them as a belly wrap in conjunction with a belly band to keep them on the dog, but they tend to migrate and slip around so you risk the padding on their back and nothing covering the penis.

Adult Incontinence Products

If you have a dog that likes to put on pants, then cut a hole for the tail and go with the underwear type of adult incontinence products, but be warned: the padding is for humans, therefore the most absorbent parts are not going to be where your dog emits urine, so you may have to supplement with the Adult Incontinence pads to be placed where your dog's penis is located.  So, you're buying expensive underwear and buying expensive pads to put into the expensive underwear, so waste of money.  Just buy a pair of regular underwear and put an incontinence pad in them.  Children's boy underwear with the penis flap work the best.  You'll put them on upside down and the penis flap turns into a tail flap!

In conclusion:  dry and clean.  Incontinence is a constant thing to deal with, but if you don't get a handle on it, your dog will develop sores, be miserable, and could develop infections and complications, so it's very important to make sure your dog is clean and dry at all times.