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An estimated 600,000 pets use some form of incontinence product. These products range from disposable dog diapers, washable diapers, belly bands, suspender outfits, doggie pants, drag bags and more. The choices can be overwhelming if you’ve just started life with a urinary and/or fecal incontinent dog. The trick is learning how to choose the right product for your pet before you’re exhausted from cleaning up after them.
This story breaks down each diaper product and explains which dogs benefit from them. Having an incontinent pup isn’t the end of the world. Like everything new, it takes some education mixed with a little trial and error. Then, before long you realize you’ve become a pro.
Note: This post contains affiliate links.
Do you know which type of incontinence your dog has?
While the definition for incontinence is, “the involuntary loss of urine,” every dog’s individual case is unique. Some dogs leak or dribble small amounts of urine all day long while others “open the flood gates” when their body eliminates waste because they have no control or feeling in the area.
Many paralyzed dogs suffer from a type of incontinence that’s actually the opposite of involuntarily losing urine. These dogs can’t empty their bladder unless it’s manually expressed. That means, their owner must press on the bladder with their hands to release the urine. If that’s the case with your dog, talk with your veterinarian about a hands-on lesson.
I’ll talk more about how to express your dog’s bladder in other posts, but let me reassure you, this is something you can learn to do. My dog Sophie was paralyzed for 5 years and I manually expressed her bladder all that time. If I can learn how to do it, you can too.
Here’s a quick video that explains the method.
Reasons why dogs become incontinent
Some dogs lose control of their bladder due to cognitive diseases as they grow old, or because of a urinary tract infection. Others develop weak bladders after having multiple litters of puppies.
Incontinence can also develop as a complication to disorders like: Cushing’s disease, diabetes, thyroid conditions and kidney disease.
But the majority of incontinence is due to spinal cord disease and injuries. For the most part, paralyzed dogs have both urinary and fecal incontinence.
The products to keep your dog dry
Our list of dog diapers will make it easy for you to chose the right product for your pet.
Disposable dog diapers
Click on the photo to learn more.
Just like human baby diapers, this product is designed to wear once and toss after it gets soiled.
The benefits are:
- They come in sizes that range from dogs less than 5lbs. to jumbo sizes for large breeds.
- The diapers are made to contour to the shape of a dog’s body for added leak protection.
- They have a hole in the back to accommodate your dog’s tail.
- Disposable diapers are easy to find in pet food stores and online.
- They come in bulk quantities.
- They’re relatively inexpensive.
Tip: If disposable diapers appeal to you, be sure they’re extra absorbent and have elastic around the legs. Some dog breeds have a tougher time with the fit due to the shape of their body. Diapers can shift out of place.
Washable dog diapers
Click on the picture for details about this budget friendly diaper.
If your dog will be incontinent the rest of their life; washable, reusable diapers could be more economical than disposable ones. That’s because they last a long time.
Budget friendly brands can last several months, while more expensive washable diapers, with durable fabrics can last for years.
Washable doggie diapers come in two designs: one that seals with Velcro tabs and another that’s designed like one-piece overalls. If your dog is active, the overalls are a good choice to keep a diaper in place.
- Washable diapers are reusable.
- Urine is absorbed through a pad sewn inside the diaper or with disposable diaper liners. Some owners use a feminine hygiene pad.
- Diapers come in a variety of sizes or can be custom made. This is helpful if your dog has other disabilities like an amputation or a unique body shape.
- Washable diapers come in cute colors and patterns.
- They’re environmentally friendly.
Tip: Look for washable diapers with mesh liners for added protection.
Click the photo for details about diaper suspenders.
The most common reason why pet owners stop using dog diapers is one I mentioned in the descriptions of both disposable and washable diapers. They’re prone to moving around and causing leakage.
Wearing an incontinence product isn’t normal for your dog. And if they’re young and active, the likelihood their diaper will shift out of place is high.
Diaper manufacturers realized this problem a few years ago and came up with a clever fix. It’s called diaper suspenders. They come in lots of sizes and styles, but the function for each is the same.
They’re stretchy straps that wrap around your dog’s body and clip onto the diaper. If you find you’re having leakage problems with your dog’s diaper, this is a great, inexpensive product to get.
Click the link learn about male belly bands.
Because of their anatomy your male dog might prefer a belly band over a diaper. They’re great for pups who leak or dribble. Belly bands are washable, waterproof coverings that wrap around your dog’s mid-section to catch and absorb urine.
- Belly bands are less confining than a diaper.
- They trap urine through a highly absorbent pad that’s sewn in the liner of the garment or by using a disposable pad or dog diaper liner.
- Belly bands are environmentally friendly because they’re reusable.
- They’re less expensive than diaper products.
- They’re easy to put on and take off.
- Bands come in hundreds of fun designs.
Tip: If your dog is fecal incontinent, belly bands will only do half the job you need. They are not designed to catch fecal material.
Click the picture for details about Barkertime’s diaper overall.
If you live with a four-legged Houdini who squirms out of every diaper product you tried, an upgrade to a one-piece incontinence product might be the answer. Barkertime makes two escape-proof products called Overalls and PeeJamas. Surgi-Snuggly offers the Dog Diaper Keeper.
Both are multi-purpose onesie suits that fit comfortably over your dog’s body from their neck to their tail and hold a diaper in place.
- In addition to incontinence protection, these garments protect and cover your dog’s wounds while recovering from back surgery.
- They’re machine washable.
- They come in lots of colors and sizes.
Tip: You’ll be surprised how many dogs are little magicians who can make a diaper disappear.
Drag bags/ scoot bags
This unique product is great for dogs while they’re hanging around the house. Drag bags or scoot bags help paralyzed/incontinent dogs stay mobile while protecting their limbs and keeping them dry.
These soft waterproof bags cover the lower half of your dog’s body for full protection.
- Wear with a diaper to keep your dog leakproof in the house.
- Protects a dog’s limbs as they scoot indoors.
- Allows for easy mobility.
- Machine washable.
- Lots of sizes, colors and designs.
Tip: My favorite drag bags are from Walkin’ Pets and Barkertime. It takes time for some dogs to adjust being inside the bag.
Click the photo to learn more.
Pee pads have been around for a long time for puppies who are learning to be housetrained. But owners of incontinent dogs found new uses for these absorbent pads. You can lie them place them in your dog’s bed for added protection overnight. Or you can lie them on the floor or in a crate when you have to leave your dog at home.
- Pee pads are inexpensive.
- You can buy them in bulk.
- They’re easy to find online and in big box pet food stores.
Tip: I suggest using pads as added protection and not as your only incontinence product.
Click the picture for details.
Mozzie Pants are a unique way to keep a dog dry and help a diaper stay in place. They’re cute, stretchy doggie pants made with fabrics that absorb urine.
- Mozzie Pants are machine washable
- Great for dogs who wear diapers
- They come in lots of colors and sizes.
- The leg length can be shortened with scissors.
Tip: The pants legs can be sewn closed to protect your dog’s paws from scrapping on the ground.
Click the photo to learn more.
This is a wonderful product if your dog is doing hydrotherapy. Made by Barkertime, these diapers are waterproof to stop the accidental release of urine and fecal matter into pools and underwater treadmills.
- The diapers are made to keep messes from escaping into the water
- They come in a variety of sizes and colors.
Tip: This is an indispensable product if your dog takes part in rehab.
DIY incontinence protection
Baby diapers and baby onesies made for human infants and toddlers can easily be transformed to keep small dogs dry. The trick is to find a size that fits your pup properly.
Lots of pet owners cut a hole in a baby diaper to accommodate their dog’s tail. The same is true for a onesie. A small hole for the tail and a pad or diaper liner turns baby pjs into a homemade incontinence garment.
- Baby diapers and onesies are less expensive than incontinence products for dogs.
- Baby diapers are available in bulk.
- Economical onesies can be found at thrift stores.
- Onesies are machine washable.
Tip: DIY diaper products work best for small breed dogs. Be sure the diaper or onesie fits your dog well for protection and doesn’t interfere with their mobility.
Selecting the right dog diaper takes time. Every dog’s incontinence is unique and so are their needs. There are lots of great products so please don’t give up if the first one you choose isn’t a winner. You can use this guide to help you narrow your search until you find the best product for your pup.
My dog, Lara, has a leaky bladder she is on medication for, so we use washable diapers. She is a ESP for me, a chronically ill 50+ female, and there are days where I just cannot take her potty outside more than once. She also refuses to use potty pads and fake grass or real grass potty stations on the deck. So, the diapers get used.
However, getting the urine smell out of them is proving problematic. When I take them off her, I sprinkle Oxyclean on them and then put them in a diaper pail (5 gallon bucket with lid out on the deck of our second floor apartment) for washing later. I wash about 15 diapers at once – pretty much 3 diapers per day for 6 or 7 days.
Opening that bucket? Practically knocks me over ever time – I do it outside with a mask. I divide the diapers into 3 lingerie bags and throw them in the wash with Oxyclean and laundry detergent (I’ve been using Purex Mountain Breeze for years because it’s one my system tolerates well) with hot water. Twice. Then I throw them in the dryer.
The diapers are “Pet Soft Washable Female Diapers”. The velcro causes issues with the lingerie bags as well as sticking to themselves but, they work.
Jilleann, It sounds like you are doing everything right to take the odor out of the diapers. I’ll run this by the members of the Dog Wheelchair LIFE and write back if they have other suggestions.
Jillean, The members of my FB group had a lot of suggestions to get rid of diaper odor. The biggest takeaway is they use multiple products at once. For instance, one pet mom rinses and squeezes the diapers, then sprays them with vinegar and sprinkles baking soda over them until she’s ready to wash. Then double rinse and spin when you put the diapers in the washer. Another pet owner warned that high efficiency washers don’t use enough water. She soaks the diapers before washing. And a third pet parent uses a veterinary allpurpose cleaner and deodorizer that’s made from pine oil.