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Monday, 16 January 2012

Wetting the bed

Hello Think Tank,

I would be grateful if you could offer me some help with my rescued, 18-month-old Border Collie cross.

We have had him for five months and he seems to have settled in well. When we first got him he used to do a nervous/excited little wee in the morning when we came downstairs to let him out but after a couple of weeks this stopped. A few days before Christmas I took his bedding out of his plastic bed to give it a hoover and noticed dampness on the plastic. I felt the bedding and it was a little damp but thought it may have been where he had come in from the garden and jumped straight into his bed. I decided to give him the benefit of doubt and just ignored it, however this has happened on numerous occasions now so I think he must be weeing in his bed. It is just happening overnight.

I have always left the radio on for him when he is left on his own, as advised by the rescue shelter, and he always settles down when he is left by himself. He is not sore anywhere so I am assuming he is deliberately doing it. There is nowhere else around the house that has damp patches, just the bed. He has only ever chewed something he shouldn't have once and he hid the evidence in his bed so maybe he thinks he is hiding the evidence in his bed again.

Please help!

Julie Smith, Berkshire

Alison Logan, vet, advises...

This sounds to me like urinary incontinence, more familiar in the bitch but also occurring in male dogs. The nervous/excited little wee passed in the morning when he greeted you is a sign of a weak bladder, and although that stopped it would seem that he is now passing urine accidentally when asleep in his bed. I really do not think he is doing this deliberately, hiding the evidence in his bed like he does when he hides things he has chewed. Your dog sleeps in his bed; whilst asleep in his bed, he is relaxed and urine leaks from his bladder.

It would be worth having a urine sample checked by your veterinary surgeon to rule out an underlying infection, for example. Is he producing more urine than usual with an increased thirst (polyuria/polydipsia) so that his bladder is filling up quicker whilst asleep? An anatomical explanation may be revealed by imaging the bladder with the ureters running to it from the kidneys and the urethra connecting it to the outside world.

If your vet feels this is simply a weak bladder, or sphincter incompetence, as I would suspect, then there are drugs which can help. Your dog’s bedwetting could be a thing of the past.


  1. Have you considerd crate training it worked with my bullmastiff x ebt I know not every one likes crates so I might get slaughterd for suggesting it but to make an easyer transition also feed the dog in the crate as it gives the dog it's own space

  2. Hi. My rescue Husky Angel does wet her bed occasionally. The best thing we did which worked, was to reduce her water intake at night from about 8pm. Now hardly any wet beds, where before it was almost every night.

  3. I would see your vet. My rescue has done this intermittently since I had her 8 years ago. We went to the vet and serious things were excluded. But we found she does have some slight abnomality in her anatomy and it appears she doesn't always get the urge to urinate so is incontinent. This only happens now if she is stressed and/or in a deep sleep as I always make sure she goes out before bed but we still have the odd accident. It is obvious that she is unaware as she is often still asleep when I discover it and usually very distressed when she realises. But a good cuddle, clean up and no scolding remedies that.

  4. After letting him out for his final pee take his water bowl away!
    You can get an anti pee spray,probable from your vet.Also I have always used a crate, I know not everone approves, but if it is the right size it works!! hope this might help.

  5. Hi,
    have you had him checked out by a vet for bladder infection?

    do you enter the room in a positive way in the morning or is he anticipating your anxiety?

    If not, there are several possible causes. Is he going out last thing at night for a wee? how long is he left over night? Does he wee anywhere else at anytime - are you sure?

    Please e mail me if you would like further help .... and good luck

    Warmest wishes


  6. if he only does it at night and it is damp rather than wet it could be a medical problem and he doesn`t know he is doing it....maybe a trip to the vet first to rule this out. It is rare for a dog to deliberately pee in its own bed.

  7. If its something he cannot help I would use vet bedding in his bed with a puppy pad underneath so he is not laying on a damp cover.
    I have several pieces of vet bedding so they can be washed when soiled, they dry really quickly on the line or over a radiator.

  8. I have a male dog who marks in the house (luckily only in the kitchen which has lino down, and only when I'm out!) so I'm always dealing with dog wee. Simple Solution products are good at getting rid of smells - you could spray a plastic bed base with it. I also use a dog nappy - specialy made from material and then you stick a human incontinence pad in it. I bought this from ebay but I don't know if they are still selling them - I'll have a look.

  9. I 've just searched and there seem to be a wealth of dog incontinence products now available! They are obviously not a cure - but save on mess and inconvenience.

  10. NOT Anonymous, Dog Groomer Advocate for over 40 years, Owned currently by GSD, 4yrs, Malti x, 15yrs and Yorkie 16yrs.
    I've see this so often with my clients over the years, and through having the same problem with my own dog some 15 years ago now, Check the dogs diet, and the ingredents list, and take it off ALL foods containing soya.
    In its un-hidden form, its just Soya Flour, Soya Bean oil, Soya bean, Soy, sya.
    Soy hides in many forms, "Vegetable protein" "vegetable flour" "Ground Vegitable" "Bean Flour" "bean protein" they are hiding it under different names now because of the scientic tests carried out that showed it affects the hormones in ALL mammals, fish etc. And in doing so, this affects the spinkta (sp) muscles of both humans and animals and ofcourse dogs and cats.
    You should notice a difference within 10 days, if not before, where by the dog stops leaking. Please stop feeding "dried complete foods that rely on Soya as the cheap protein filler, and get your dog on a good raw meat, or home cooked meat and veg diet, not only will hormone problems cease, but the over all health of your pet will increase, shiny coat, skin issues disappear, even behavioural and emotional issues resolve. It costs less to put your dog on a good diet, than is does to keep making Vet trips due to their ill health, and only costs you the same time to feed, as you would complete foods. Home cooked is easy, just cook up a batch weekly and freeze into daily amounts, then each day before, take out the food, place in their bowl to de-frost, and then feed later that day Its also a good idea to ensure they are getting oily fish and eggs in their diets at least once a week, (google The building blocks breakfast) as this contains all the vitamins and minerals they require, and is far better and cheaper than loads of supplements.
    Hope that helps,

  11. I would never suggest leaving an animal without access to fresh drinking water. I don't think it's ever been shown to actually have any effect.
    I have a feeling this is probably more of a behavioural problem - he's marking his bed, so he then self annoints himself with his scent as he relaxes.
    Try rubbing his clean fresh bed with the old soiled one before you take it away to wash it, and do this every time you change bedding.
    I always use vet bed for my dogs as it's so easy to keep clean, any moisture goes right through and the dog isn't lying in it - some of the pieces I am using I've had for over 20 years, so it works out far cheaper than 'posh' fancy beds too!
    Hope this helps.

    1. im sorry but it DOES have an effect. I was only saying for the last two hours before bed. Mine is crated and if she has water in her crate she does wet her bed.

  12. Thank you to everyone that has offered their advice I really appreciate it. At the moment I don't think there is a medicial problem, no soya in his James Wellbeloved food so for now I am going with Fran's advice as I think he may be doing it for comfort.
    Thank you

    1. Christine Bailey17 January 2012 at 08:40

      Please take the dog for a vet check to rule out any possibility of a medical problem. My WSD has an intrapelvic bladder, an unusual problem, especially in males;most dogs with this condition are apparently incontinent. My Dan though wasn't, until he had spinal surgery at the age of two, when he became wet, only when asleep, for about two years. I think the surgery may have bruised some nerves somewhere, and the anatomical abnormality didn't help. It all cleared up, then he needed further surgery earlier this year; he was wet for a few weeks after that. As I say, this only happened when he was asleep, and I'm certain he wasn't aware of it. Urinary tract infections can also result in incontinence; the dog can't pee when he wants to, and floods when he relaxes.
      I used a nappy designed specifically for male dogs; most simply aren't long enough to cover the male anatomy! And incontinence pads bought cheaply online. Dan had to be crated after his first surgery for quite a time, and since then has always slept in a crate. I bought the sort of bed covers you can buy online or in the chemist to absorb liquid and protect a bed, much softer than the ones sold for dogs.
      A brilliant herbal product for incontinence is Phytopet Dry, which I have recommended to several people now. Only costs a few pounds and well worth a try. But please get a vet check first!

  13. I tried to comment on the blog but can't, here's my response: Julie - dogs don't have the cognitive abilities to do things "deliberately". He's either peeing his bed, in which case he could have an infection, or worse; or he's marking (my 15 month old male marks by squatting, so it's not always on a vertical surface) - has he been castrated? If not, that may solve the problem, as he's not too old. As a practical management tool, you could use a "belly-band" - a piece of absorbent cloth fastened around his middle - similar to these which is just one of the Google results you'll find if you search for "dog belly band"

  14. As you said the plastic is wet, please be sure that this is actually urine and not just condensation. Condensation builds up really quickly in a plastic bed and does get soaking.

    Just saying, because it is possible that the dog is not doing anything at all.

    If anyone has a solution to condensation in beds btw, we'd love to hear it.

    Hope you get it sorted.

    1. Hi Beanz, I think you have hit the nail on the head!!! I got him to sleep just on his dog mattress and towel and there was no wet or damp patches. We now have a new bed and there has been no damp patches at all!! Poor dog. I thought the plastic bed would have been ok as it had loads of ventilation holes in the bottom but alas not. Big big thanks