The Treatment of Canine Urinary Incontinence With Corn Silk
Can Young Dogs Develop Canine Urinary Incontinence?
I thought that canine urinary incontinence was a problem found only in older dogs, but last year I learned that it's quite common in young dogs as well—especially spayed females.
Our 4-Year-Old Spayed Female's Story
I was quite alarmed when I found my Old English Sheepdog, Miracle (only four years old), lying in a small puddle of urine while she was sleeping. Previous to this event, I had been detecting the smell of urine on her and noticed wet spots on her fur. My husband and I took her to the vet to determine the cause of her incontinence, thinking that it was probably a urinary tract infection.
The Causes of Urinary Incontinence in Dogs
Our vet explained to us that canine urinary incontinence can occur for a number of reasons. The most common reasons are listed below.
A bladder or kidney infection is usually the first thing to consider. The main indications are frequent, perhaps painful urination and cloudy urine with an abnormal odor. A urine culture is taken to rule this out.
An ectopic ureter means one or both ureters by-pass the bladder and connect to an abnormal location such as the urethra or vagina. A dog that has an ectopic ureter displays constant dribbling from birth. Surgical intervention is required to fix the problem.
Partial blockage of the ureter from a stone or a tumor can cause incontinence. If your dog's urine is cloudy or bloody or your dog is having trouble or pain while urinating, it may have a blockage caused by a bladder stone, kidney stone, or a tumor.
Also called hormone-responsive incontinence or urethral sphincter mechanism incompetence (USMI), this problem occurs mostly in neutered dogs, particularly spayed females. After a female dog is spayed, there are changes in the hormone levels that help to keep the sphincter muscle strong. The resulting weakness causes the dog to release urine, usually while sleeping. A surprising 20% of neutered dogs are affected by this problem. It may not show up until years after the spaying.
How Is It Diagnosed and Treated?
Our vet took a urine culture but told us that she thought Miracle had spay incontinence and recommended the drug Proin. She also told us that Miracle would have to be on this drug for the rest of her life. I bought the pills but had reservations about the drug because of the side effects. Proin's active ingredient is phenylpropanolamine, a drug that increases the tone of the urethral sphincter.
Proin Side Effects
The side effects of the drug Proin include restlessness and irritability. (Miracle is a high-energy dog to begin with, and we certainly didn't need her to be more wired or nervous.) Other side effects include increased heart rate, hypertension, and loss of appetite.
I decided I didn't want to give my dog such a drug, especially since she would have to take it for the rest of her life. However, it was important for her incontinence problem to get corrected because it could lead to urinary tract infections, vaginitis, and even skin ulcers caused by the scalding urine and her licking herself. I needed to find an alternative solution.
Corn Silk: A Natural Remedy Used in Urinary Formulas
When I got home, I did some research on the problem and discovered that corn silk is a commonly used remedy for human and canine bladder problems. Its first use for resolving urinary problems can be traced back to the Incas in South America.
The Health Benefits of Corn Silk
It is a natural diuretic that is effective at soothing inflammation and irritation in the bladder. Corn silk is also high in calcium, B vitamins, vitamin K, iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium, silicon, and phosphorus. According to WebMD, it also contains tannins, which act as drying agents, and cryptoxanthin, which acts like vitamin A.
Always communicate with your veterinarian. Before proceeding with supplementation, your dog should receive a proper diagnosis from your vet. Some supplements are not regulated and may be adulterated or harmful to animals.
Safety and Use
One study on mice that was conducted to evaluate extract toxicity reportedly "showed no abnormality related to the administration of corn silk extract at 500 mg/kg." A similar study in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology confirmed that no adverse effects with the use of corn silk could be determined in female rats—suggesting a high margin of safety for humans. However, because corn silk supplements are not regulated by the FDA, safe use in dogs may vary.
In addition to corn silk, common urinary support formulas for dogs include:
- Pumpkin Seed
- Wild Yam
- Marshmallow Root
- Saw Palmetto
- Olive Leaf
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin C
This is the product I found when doing my research—it's commonly used for humans. There are plenty of dog-approved formulas available that can be purchased online. Always communicate with your vet regarding supplements and changes to your dog's diet.
How Natural Urinary Formulas Resolved Her Incontinence
After reading success stories by several people that had tried urinary support supplements on their dogs, I bought a couple of bottles of a natural product that contained corn silk. The price was right at less than $4.00 for 100 capsules. I broke open the capsules and sprinkled them directly on Miracle's food (1 capsule in the morning, and 2 at night). She didn't seem to mind the taste at all and ate her food with her usual enthusiasm.
I noticed after only two days that her dribbling was much less, and after a week, her incontinence had completely resolved.
Success With Supplements
I've been keeping Miracle on this supplement for a year now, and she has had only four accidents in that time period. Miracle tends to drink lots of water right after dinner, and the accidents happened when I didn't let her out to urinate after her evening meal and she fell into a deep sleep. All in all, I consider the corn silk remedy to be a great success. It worked for Miracle, and hopefully, it will work for your pet as well.
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
How much does Miracle weigh? What is the dosage for a dog?
I give Miracle two, 400 mg capsules of corn silk daily, and she weighs about 75 lbs.Helpful 8
How much corn silk should I give a 30 lb dog?
I give my 75 lb dog two capsules daily, so I think one capsule would be enough.Helpful 15
How did you determine the dosage? For ease of administration, I've found corn silk drops, but I don't know how much to give my 70-pound Doberman. We want to supplement her failing Proin prescription for now.
The serving size for humans for 400 mg of corn silk is three capsules per day, so I started out with that since my dog is large (75 lbs.). I reduced the daily dose to two capsules after she stopped leaking.Helpful 11
How long did it take for you to start seeing results when treating canine urinary incontinence with corn silk?
After two days that her dribbling was much less, and after a week she had completely stopped. She occasionally has some leaking if she over-drinks and falls into a deep sleep, but that hasn't happened at all for quite a long time (probably a year now).Helpful 6
Would this help my 15-year-old male dog? His back end is weak due to a tumor on his leg.
If your dog has some incontinence, it may help since it is a natural bladder strengthener. It can't hurt to try it.Helpful 6
© 2012 Margaret Perrottet