Senior Dogs Having "Accidents"

Senior Golden Retriever
©Natasha Japp Photography / Getty Images

The loss of house training—defecation and/or urination indoors—is a common problem as dogs, as well as cats, age. Often, it may be difficult to detect if the situation is due to dementia or a specific medical issue. Therefore, a trip to the vet is in order. All behavioral problems should be checked out by a veterinarian—including the loss of house training—to rule out any medical conditions. 

What The Vet Will Look For

If your dog is peeing and pooping in the house, the vet will examine for specific medical conditions such as gastric upset or a bladder infection. If medical problems are found, the first thing to do is to treat the underlying condition which will most possibly be with medication.

If no medical reasons are discovered to explain the behavior, then the veterinarian will most likely diagnose the cause of dementia. There are medications such as Anipryl and a variety of nutraceuticals (pharmaceutical-grade nutritional supplement) that can potentially help with the signs of dementia.

What The Vet Will Ask You

Your visit to the vet will go more smoothly if you are aware of the possible questions the doctor will ask. You may want to write down the answers to these questions ahead of time so you are prepared.

  1. Is the dog aware of what he's doing, or is the poop just falling out of him? The latter is fecal incontinence.
  2. Does the dog know the difference between pooping inside and out but he just can't hold it in? The latter can indicate gastrointestinal or metabolic disease.
  3. Is the dog physically healthy? If so, he might be pooping in the house as a result of a canine cognitive disorder, like doggy Alzheimer’s.

Living With Accidents

If it is determined that your dog is having accidents as a result of dementia, there are some questions you will want to ask yourself.

  • Are you willing to get up during the night to take your pup out or to clean up the mess?
  • Would it be easier to crate your pooch, which would mean cleaning up the crate?
  • Can you limit your dog's access to a smaller area in the house?
  • Can you remove the carpet and pick up all the rugs in the house?
  • Is your old pooch generally happy and feeling good despite the issue?

Suggested Reading

Dealing with a pet as he or she ages can be challenging and emotional. Educating yourself can offer support while living with a pet in their senior years. Learn more about Anipryl, a drug that helps with pet dementia, and understands the signs to look for in dogs and cats when it comes to dementia symptoms. You may also want to know when it's time to see the vet with your senior dog or cat