Anyone who's had a child or babysat for one has been through the diaper experience. But some pet owners may find that, for a variety of reasons, their dog needs to wear a diaper. There are products made specifically for canines. Why, you might ask, would a dog ever need a diaper? There are several reasons:
- Urinary Incontinence in Dogs
Actual urinary incontinence is not a behavioral issue. It may be caused by a urinary tract infection, bladder problems, a weakened urinary sphincter muscle, and conditions like bacterial infections or diabetes. Even the most well trained dog can suffer from this and be unable to control the urge to urinate. If you suspect that your dog's accidents are not behavior-related, the first step is to consult your vet. There are drugs and surgeries that can sometimes treat the condition. However, if incontinence can't be controlled in other ways, dog diapers will become part of your daily life.
- Elderly dogs, even those that have never had accidents in the house, may lose control of some bodily functions, like urination and defecation. In some cases, the dog just forgets what he's learned. Dogs older than 11 may suffer from something similar to Alzheimer's disease in humans, called canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD). While there are drugs available to treat this, you may find you'll still need to use dog diapers.
- Dog Diapers for Female Dogs in Heat
A diaper will keep your house and furnishings cleaner and also prevent the constant licking that many female dogs are prone to while in heat. Dog diapers are not, however, a viable form of canine contraception; a male dog will easily find a way around the diaper.
- Using Dog Diapers for Training
Some owners feel that a doggie diaper is a useful house-training tool. But, let's face it, that's more about concern for the furniture and rugs in your house than for the dog. Even if you choose this method, your dog should be taken outside regularly, without a diaper, to learn where he's really supposed to go.
What Are Dog Diapers?
Just as there is in the world of new parenthood, there's debate about the best type of diapers to use on your dog – cloth or disposable? Cloth diapers have the virtue of allowing you to be environmentally conscious, since they can be washed and reused. However, you may not like having to constantly wash the soiled diapers. And the initial cost is higher than for disposables. Disposable dog diapers are convenient and easy to use; just discard when done. But, like baby diapers, they'll end up in a landfill somewhere, and over time, the cost adds up.
There are several styles of dog diapers. For male dogs, some owners prefer a belly band, which has a lightweight shell that goes around the dog's midsection. The outer layer is an absorbent liner. Some dog owners buy liners made for the belly band; others use baby diapers or sanitary napkins. Any of these materials is easily disposable. Full diapers are almost exactly like diapers for human babies, except they have a hole for the tail. Do-it-yourselfers also use baby diapers for their dogs, cutting a hole for the tail.
How to Use Dog Diapers
- There are variations in fit and absorbency. Carefully follow the product's instructions for measuring, and choose the appropriate absorption level.
- Change the diaper frequently. Like a baby, your dog shouldn't have to be uncomfortable in a wet or full diaper. A wet or dirty diaper can result in diaper rash in canines, which can cause burning, itching, and inflammation, as well as bacterial infections.
- Use baby wipes to clean your dog when you change him.
- Wear gloves when changing the diaper, so you won't come into contact with urine or feces.
- Canine diapers come with a hole for your dog's tail. If his tail is docked or he has almost no tail, cover the hole with tape before using to prevent leakage.
- Before you follow any of these tips, take your dog to the vet. There may be underlying causes for urinary incontinence. There may also be surgery or medications to treat it successfully.
Suggested Dog Diaper Products to Get You Started:
1. Vet's Best Comfort-Fit Disposable Male Wrap®: These disposable belly bands for male dogs come in several sizes. They're well designed and have a wetness indicator that lets you know when to change the diaper.
2. Washable Dog Diapers (3-pack) Durable Doggie Diapers, for Male and Female Dogs by PetParents™: If you prefer washable diapers, these are soft, flexible, and well made.
3. Paw Inspired ® Ultra Protection Female Disposable Dog Diapers: These are easily repositioned, have a breathable bottom layer, and a speed-dry technology that converts urine into gel. They're available in several sizes.