Alison is a freelance writer on health, nutrition, skincare, and pets, especially cats and dogs.
Dog Diapers at a Glance
Topics that will be covered:
- The three main reasons why pet owners need to buy doggy diapers.
- Whether to choose doggy or human diapers and how to adapt human diapers for your dog.
- How to choose the right type for your dog.
- How to choose the right size diaper for the perfect fit.
- Whether to choose a washable (cloth) type or a disposable type.
- How to ensure your pet's comfort.
- How to choose diapers for puppies, females in heat, and incontinent elderly dogs.
Three Main Reasons for Buying Dog Diapers
If you are considering buying dog diapers, this is probably going to be for one of three main reasons.
- Firstly, you could be considering short-term use for a younger dog during house training or for a dog recuperating from an operation or illness who cannot go outside to urinate. Other short-term use situations might include vacations (perhaps including a hotel stay).
- Secondly, you could be considering using one for an older dog who is becoming incontinent or for a younger dog that suffers from urinary incontinence when excited or who scent marks inside the house.
- Thirdly, you could be considering using dog diapers for a female dog during her "heat" to protect your furnishings and carpets from staining with blood.
For all three of these scenarios, there are important things to consider, not only to ensure that the diapers you choose are correctly fitting and do not cause your dog distress, but also whether or not there could be another solution to the problem.
Doggy Diapers or Human Diapers?
If you choose human diapers for your dog, you can make considerable savings over the cost of disposable doggy diapers. However, you will probably find that in order to make them comfortable for your dog, you will need to cut a hole for the tail. Owners have also reported that human diapers fit their dog much better if they are put on backward—in other words with the adhesive strip fastenings designed for the front of the baby's tummy being fastened at the dog's back.
How to Make a Dog Diaper From a Human One
How to Fit a Human Diaper on a Dog
To fit a human diaper, choose a brand that doesn't pinch your dog's tummy, such as Huggies Snuggies which have a really 'elastic' waistband.
- Put the back of the diaper with the tabs under your dog's tummy. Then pass the front of the diaper between your dog's back legs and up over his back, passing the tail through the hole made for the purpose.
- Then bring up the tabs from underneath and fasten over the dog's back, securing them in place with masking tape.
- Make sure you can get a couple of fingers comfortably under the waistband around your dog's tummy - you want it to stay in place but not make your pet uncomfortable.
It is easier to find the right size if you have a small dog. For large and giant breeds, look for adult incontinence diapers that are of the same type as baby diapers, not the ones with a disposable pad that fits inside.
Choosing the Right Type of Diaper
There are different types of diapers so you need to be sure which sort you want depending on the needs and gender of your dog.
Dog diapers for male dogs are Belly Band diapers. These comprise a band that wraps around the middle of your dog to catch urine. This type is also useful if you have a male dog whose scent marks his territory inside your home.
Full diapers are like baby diapers which go right over the bottom of your dog and fasten at the sides—except that they come with a hole for the tail.
The third kind is the harness type which fastens by means of suspenders or attachments to a harness which will keep them snugly in place.
Choosing a Correctly Fitting Doggie Diaper
As with human diapers, doggie ones come in different sizes so firstly, you need to weigh your dog. Next, take the waist measurement whilst the dog is standing.
For male dogs, you need to be sure to measure far enough forward so that the front of the diaper will cover the urethra, otherwise when he pees the diaper will be useless.
For full-size disposable diapers, you might find this size guide helpful which I have collated from information on Wee-Wee® brand Disposable Diapers - please bear in mind though that each brand differs slightly and you may have to experiment to find the perfect fit, especially for deep-chested, small waisted dogs as some brands will fit better than others.
Size Guide For Diapering Your Dog
|Size||Breed Examples||Weight||Waist Size|
Toy breeds and young puppies
Maltese, Jack Russell, Pekingese
Beagle, Cocker Spaniel, Miniature Poodle, Pug, Sheltie
Bulldog, Bull Terrier, Collie, Dalmation, Springer Spaniel
Boxer, Doberman, German Shepherd, Retriever, Rottweiller
When Accidents Happen...
With the best will in the world, there are always going to be little accidents even with well-fitting diapers. If your pet has had an accident on your carpet, you will want to read my article How to Remove the Odor of Dog Urine from Carpets in which I explain simple ways to get your carpet looking clean and smelling fresh—and a tip for detecting urine that has dried into the carpet.
Disposable or Washable Dog Diapers?
For occasional or very short term use disposable diapers are convenient and relatively inexpensive. Because you just dispose of them after use, they are more pleasant to use, particularly for bitches in heat. You can just buy a pack as and when required.
If your requirement for a doggie diaper for your pet is more than occasional, you might want to consider cloth, washable diapers.
These are not only washable themselves, but have liners which can be re-usable cloth ones that you can launder or, disposable pads which work out less expensive than full doggie diapers in the long term.
These come in many styles, designs, and colors and are easy to fasten with velcro closures or suspenders to keep them firmly in place.
They also tend to be more adjustable for the long-term comfort of your pet.
You will probably need at least two sets for your pet to start with so that you have a spare set whilst one is being laundered.
For our very elderly terrier, Bandit, we ended up using cloth diapers with liners as we found this a better, long-term solution. We chose were of the belly band type and found that the Weegreeco Dog Diapers which come in a pack of three, washed well, were adjustable to fit, and were an economical solution when used with disposable liners.
Avoid Diaper Rash and Discomfort
Just like human babies, your dog's skin can become red, chafed, and sore from contact with the diaper and get diaper rash from urine-soaked diapers.
Make sure that the lining of whichever type you use is soft and absorbent. Make sure that the elasticated areas are comfortable, not too tight that they will chafe the skin.
Change the diaper every time the dog pees. Do not leave him wet and in discomfort.
Doggy diapers are mainly designed for the collection of urine. If your dog is incontinent of feces, ask your vet for advice as cleanup can be messy, smelly, and unpleasant. Your dog's skin can also become broken and sore if left in contact with feces.
Many owners find that clipping the hair around the anus makes cleanup easier and that applying napkin ointment to clean skin helps to keep feces off the skin too.
Unscented baby wipes are also good for cleanup and soiled diapers can be disposed of into baby nappy sacks which are inexpensive and effective at masking smells.
Should I Be Using Puppy Diapers?
Puppy diapers can be helpful when house training your puppy and in the early days when you need to take him somewhere and don't want an accident. However they are not a substitute for teaching your pet when and where it is appropriate to pee and poo and although a few accidents at the beginning might be a problem, in the long term, it is far better to persevere as your pup will soon get the idea, saving you a lot of hassle and money spent on diapers!
Should I be Using Female Dog Diapers?
For an un-spayed female, menstrual blood is a fact of life and if she lives indoors with you, allowing her to wear a diaper that will collect her menses will avoid the potential for her being scolded for something that isn't her fault - like getting blood on the carpet or the furniture.
Diapers for dogs in heat can also prevent some potential problems when you are walking her with unwanted attention from male dogs.
However, you need to be vigilant and ensure that she is kept clean and comfortable and that her skin does not become sore and a soft, washable diaper like the one demonstrated (right) might be your best option.
Diapering a Female Dog in Heat
The video above demonstrates the harness and suspender type of diaper which you might find most convenient for a female in heat as the diapers are washable and quick and easy to remove and replace once the harness has been put on.
Should I Be Using Diapers for an Incontinent Dog?
You should always establish the cause of the incontinence before putting any dog in diapers. Your vet will be able to advise you. Potentially, you could be attributing the cause to loss of bladder control when in fact, your dog has a urinary infection that should not be left untreated.
However, for older dogs that are becoming incontinent of urine, diapers can make all the difference and allow your dog to go on living in your home, laying in all his favorite places and enjoying his old age, rather than being banished or a becoming a source of family upset due to those little accidents that would otherwise happen with increasing frequency.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
Question: I have a senior dog; she's a fifteen-years-old Pudelpointer. She is bleeding as if she is in heat, but it is very heavy. Her weight is down to between 55 to 60 pounds. What size doggie diaper should I get her? Also, should I be concerned? She has never been spayed, nor has she ever had a litter.
Answer: Please take your dog to the vet right away. Yes, you should be concerned. I have personal experience of this with my old Collie Retriever. A hysterectomy gave her two more good years of life. However, the fact that your dog is losing weight should also be a cause for concern if she is eating normally. Please get your dog checked out as soon as possible.
Question: My fourteen-year-old female dog has a leaky anal gland, and keeps licking herself raw to collect it. I do not want her to have to wear a cone all the time. Will a diaper help?
Answer: If your vet has ruled out any medical condition and has not given advice to the contrary, diapers are one solution. However, as you say she is licking herself raw at the moment, it may not be a good idea to 'seal' the area inside a waterproof diaper as this may lead to infection. My advice would be to either, wear a cone or (if she is small enough), a 'onesie' until the area is no longer raw before trying the diapers as a solution.
Alison Graham (author) from UK on May 22, 2017:
Hi Marlene, sorry to hear of your little dog's problems. It is quite difficult to find the perfect fit for dogs that weigh a little more than their breed size guide - as many of the nappies go by waist size or weight - and either way, tend to be too large if they fit around the waist. I'm afraid it might well be a question of trial and error and you may find that nappies for human babies that you can pick up at the store could be the answer. In my article, I explain how to adapt these for doggy use - and you may be able to pick up a couple of trial size packs in different baby weights to find the right fit. I do hope that you will be successful. Sorry I cannot be more helpful. Good luck with your little one, Alison
marlene on May 21, 2017:
my little 14 year old dog has a lot of trouble passing his weei am looking for a nappy that will fit him as he is a little fatie and i love him so much can you help me out and let me know were to by them from asi live in Australia
Alison Graham (author) from UK on May 06, 2017:
It is difficult, Katie, to find the right fit for any fur baby but you are very aware of any potential problem and are trying to do the very best for your boy in terms of the right diaper to keep him comfortable and safe.
Katie on May 06, 2017:
I wish I could find a " diaper " for my 18 year old little boy that would be long enough to cover him. I use belly bands but I always worry if they are safe for his urethra.
Alison Graham (author) from UK on April 27, 2017:
JayeWisdom, thank you so much for your detailed comment. I hope that the information you have provided about the cloth pants that go over the diaper will be helpful to other readers and I will do some further research on these and update my article accordingly. Thank you again, Alison
Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on April 26, 2017:
My eight-month-old female schnoodle, Bella, just had her first heat. I'm holding off on spaying her until after she is one year old, and even then, hope to find a vet who does the ovary-sparing spay to protect her hormones. Research shows it has more benefits and the early "hysterectomy-type" spay potential health risks. As for protection during Bella's first estrus, I used size 3 Huggies baby diapers put on backward and held in place with an extra strip of cloth tape above her stubby tail. Chewydotcom sells little cloth pants that go over the diaper (preventing her, mostly, from chewing at them and stripping them off), and they fasten with Velcro on each side. This made a prolonged heat (which I read is not unusual the first time) bearable for her and for me. She was clingy and demanding, so I laughed and said she had the canine version of PMS! At least, the diapers kept her and the house clean.
Alison Graham (author) from UK on April 25, 2017:
Hi Krista, obviously the waist size of your dog is going to be an important factor but in disposable diapers, the large size generally fits 35 - 55 lbs with a waist size guide of between 20-27" if your dog has a smaller waist, she might fit into the medium size designed for up to 35 lbs and 18-25" waist - thank you for your interest and I do hope you find something that fits well and in which she is comfortable. Alison
Krista on April 25, 2017:
So what would you recommend for my 40 lbs bulldog? She just went in to heat
Jennifer on March 07, 2017:
My senior dog just made 14 and he has suddenly been waking out of his sleep and pooping on the bed due to not being able to hold it I guess. What should I do? Is there even a diaper to catch fecal for dogs? Help please!
unable to read article on January 23, 2017:
I don't know if this article is useful thanks to the pop up that couldn't be removed covering half my screen asking me "How good is this article?" - counter-productive to say the least
Alison Graham (author) from UK on December 12, 2016:
Thanks for the tip about the sheet strap for keeping dog diapers in place - yes, I agree, human diapers are a better option for larger breeds of dog. Thanks for your comment, Alison
Yana on December 11, 2016:
Nice, but went to buy Diapers and they come in size 1-6, then go into Pull-ups for Toddlers. Has to guesstimate and for a medium sized dog approx. 40 pounds. I bought the size 6 and used a Sheet strap to attach to the dog bridal and then to the diaper and works like a charm to keep it on. (I also used this same size on our little Chi-Pom and it works for her too). I would say if you have a Lab or Shepard sized dog you better go tot he human diapers.
Alison Graham (author) from UK on March 06, 2016:
Thanks Judy for your comment, I'm glad you found a solution for your little girl she sounds absolutely adorable - it's a pity that pictures can't be attached to comments as I would love to see her! Our little girl has had two 'seasons' and we will let her have a third before we get her spayed. Doggy diapers are very useful as she likes the extra reassurance of even more cuddles than usual when she is on heat. We want to be sure that she is fully developed physically and it is my belief that the female hormones are important for this. She is due in heat again in May/June so will be spayed about three months after that as Vets here like to do them mid-way between seasons.
JudysBella on March 05, 2016:
our puppy is just 8 months old ...we bought her from a breeder last month. She is extremely smart, sweet as sweet can be . She loves her new name too! Last Sunday to our surprise she went into heat. We still had the last set of shots to complete so we couldn't have her spayed when we brought her home. Now we have gone thru one package of diapers and I will be heading over to pets supply plus for another package as soon as I send this off. She wears the diaper as if she has worn it every day of her life. Since we got her , she has been poked, prodded, diapered, name changed, new owners , and potty trained. Still smiles all the time and she loves us...we love her to pieces. She is a Teddybear breed and wears small size. Thank goodness for doggie diapers.
Alison Graham (author) from UK on December 31, 2015:
Jaye, thank you so much for sharing this. I hope that others reading this with a dog suffering from incontinence will take heart. and thank you too for the tip about Huggies pull-ups.
Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on December 28, 2015:
Update: My dog now has Cushing's disease and is completely incontinent, so she's in Huggies' pull-ups (disposable training pants with side openings) full-time. I buy them either on Amazon.com, Jet.com, or Diapers.com (whichever has best price plus free shipping) as well as large boxes of Huggies baby wipes. There are so many symptoms for a Cushingoid dog that changing her diapers seems like no problem at all to me.
She "tells" me (with a single "Woof") as soon as her diaper needs changing, and she slowly steps out of the old one and into the new one. It's actually easier on me than taking her out at night and in bad weather. I like the pull-ups because they fit better and are easier to change than diapers.
I've read about pet parents who had a dog euthanized simply due to incontinence, and it just about breaks my heart. My girl has a lot of problems, and it's fortunate I'm retired because being her caretaker is time-consuming, but I'm very willing to do it. She was there for me when I needed her and gave me so much joy. Still does, for that matter. She doesn't play much, but wakes up every morning and wants her "tummy tickle." I'll take care of her as long as I'm privileged to have her in my life.
Carlos Richer on September 30, 2015:
Great article. I hope you do not mind I have taken the liberty to share it with my Disposable Diaper Network group at LinkedIn. Thank you!
Alison Graham (author) from UK on June 25, 2014:
Wow Jaye, you have a very special little dog there. Thanks so much for telling us her story and it is heartening to know that she copes so well - definitely a smart cookie! PS - just popped over to your profile and saw the hubs about your miniature schnauzer, so I am heading back to read them now!
Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on June 25, 2014:
I'd used diapers for my miniature schnauzer earlier in her life--once after she had anal gland surgery and later when she had the terrible gastro disease HGE and while she was recovering, so she understood their purpose and that it was okay for her to 'go' in the diapers if needed.
When she was eight years old, she went blind and became very disoriented for months before she adjusted to her vision loss. During this time her habits and behaviors changed. For one thing, she couldn't find the back door and sometimes she wasn't sure where I was, so she didn't always bark the 'special' barks she'd always used to let me know she needed to go outdoors to potty. After several indoor 'accidents' that distressed her (and me, though for different reasons), I started putting diapers on her.
I use two types of human diapers: (1) Huggies Slip-ons (with soft elastic openings) for nighttime wear because they're a bit more bulky, and (2) Huggies Pull-ups (also with elastic at waist) for daytime wear, but less bulk. These are obviously comfortable and not binding. Both types fit her yet leave ample room in the back for her very short cropped tail to move freely. I've never cut a hole in the diapers as any movement of the diaper makes leakage more likely. But, because her tail's so short, I can do that with no problem whereas it wouldn't be practical for a dog with a regular tail. She can even wag her little tail inside the diaper.
She is more likely to use the diaper to potty (mostly urination) when she's just awakened from a nap and is disoriented, not fully awake. She finds me quickly so I can remove it, clean her and put on a fresh diaper. (Did I tell you she's smart?) Occasionally, she won't find me quickly enough in our large house for me to take her outside on leash to potty and will have a bowel movement in her diaper. Again, she wants it changed asap and a clean-up. She's fastidious that way. Fortunately, the home-cooked diet I feed her lends itself to solid stools that don't create a 'messy' diaper. I just slowly pull the diaper down as she carefully steps out of it. Voila! No fuss, no mess. A quick cleanup, a fresh diaper and my furgirl is happy again.
The remainder of the time (now that she's adjusted to blindness), she lets me know she needs to go outdoors because she still prefers to potty in the grass.
I buy Huggies at a discount price, so they cost much less than diapers made especially for dogs. It's funny, but because her diapers are decorated with Disney characters (Little Mermaid on the Pull-ups), everyone at the vet clinic thinks she looks darling in her diaper.
Alison Graham (author) from UK on March 12, 2013:
Thanks for your message @ps - it is so sad to lose a beloved dog - 14 is a great age for a Shepherd isn't it? I dread losing either of my 'boys' aged almost 15 and 14 respectively (Jack Russells).
Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on March 12, 2013:
Great advice. We had doggie diapers on our female Shepherd . She wasn't crazy about it at first but adjusted nicely. It wasn't for too long of a period either so I guess that is part of why she put up with the humiliation.
:) We loved her so. She died three years ago at age 14. Our hearts were broken.
Sending Angels your way this evening :) ps
Alison Graham (author) from UK on March 12, 2013:
Thanks Dreamhowl, I appreciate your comment and the vote up.
Jessica Peri from United States on March 12, 2013:
You covered everything! My parents tried to put our dog in a female diaper once because it was her first heat. She wasn't having any of it, so I had to return them the next day. Now they just keep an eye on her and sometimes confine her to the kitchen so no accidents can happen when they aren't home. Voted up!