Taking care of aging or aged dogs can become a stressful experience.
As with humans, arguably, the most common age related problem affecting older dogs is incontinence, the inability to control urination, and bowel movement.
Uncontrolled urination and accidental or deliberate bowel spillage in older dogs can indeed be frustrating.
Sadly, this is one of the reasons why some dog owners end up returning their dogs to animal shelters or, even worse, putting them down. But, what other less drastic options are there for owners of older dogs?
Over the years, dog diapers have been seen as the answer to the problem of incontinence in older dogs.
However, there are pros and cons to using diapers on older dogs. This article will explore some of the key pros and cons of using diapers on your pooch.
Pros of Dog Diapers For Older Dogs
Diapers save older dogs from embarrassing accidents
Incontinence accidents in old age do happen and are a fact of life for all of us.
However, when such accidents happen and your older dog is wearing a diaper, it physically, emotionally, and psychologically minimizes both the impact and extent of the damage for all concerned.
Intuitive animals that dogs are, older dogs are particularly aware when they have done something wrong. As such, when an incontinence incident happens while your dog is wearing a diaper, it (and you) will at least be spared the embarrassment and emotional heartache that ordinarily would have caused both of you to shamefully withdraw from each other or result in tantrums.
Managing the emotional side of older dogs is very important. Therefore, diapers spare your dog the humiliation of incontinence.
Spares your expensive rugs and furniture
Unless you live in an empty cave, the biggest nuisance that comes with bowel accidents is the ruining of furniture.
When a precious rug or that expensive couch has been spoiled by urine or fecal matter, it puts a strain on your relationship with your old furry friend, never mind the expense of deep cleaning or replacing the furniture.
Dog diapers ensure that you keep your furniture safe from accidents.
Peace of mind
Cognitive impairment for older dogs with Canine Cognitive Disorder can disorient a dog’s behaviour.
With changes to their behavior, such as sleep/wake cycle and altered appetite, their bathroom schedule is also sure to change.
You might find that your dog isn’t relieving himself on walks like he used to. To avoid the accidents that come with such a problem, putting your older dogs in diapers will give both them and you peace of mind during this difficult time.
Diapers can be useful after surgery
Unfortunately, older dogs suffer from a wide range of ailments that, more often than not, require surgery.
To avoid infection during such times, dogs can either not go out or are sedated. Diapers come in most handy during this period covering or protecting surgical wounds. They also help to cater to incontinence caused by medicinal side effects.
Control accidents in unwelcome spaces
As a dog gets older, a decrease in mobility is unavoidable. Compound that with living on the eighth floor of an apartment building with a dysfunctional elevator, and premature bowel accidents can cause problems between you and your neighbors.
Angry neighbors especially factor into the equation when incontinence incidents occur on their doors, steps, or in the hallway. Sometimes the easiest step you can take as the dog owner is to use diapers to prevent those unwelcome accidents from happening in the worst places.
Plenty of choice available
Fortunately, diapers for older dogs come in a myriad of materials and sizes – and cater to different behavioral traits are readily available for your convenience.
Ranging from male to female, disposable to washable, dog diapers also come in a variety of colors.
You will need to consider the size, breed, temperament of your pet, and the type of diaper that’s right for your circumstances. If in doubt, talk to your veterinarian first.
Reduce the stress and hassle when traveling
Some older dogs that are not used to being around anyone other than their owner, become nervous and incontinent when entrusted to a new carer.
Similarly, taking long road trips with a dog – let alone an older dog – can be challenging.
Dog diapers are a convenient solution during such times. Thanks to diapers, the stress and hassle of separation and travel are reduced for all concerned.
However, remember, diapers still need to be changed regularly.
Cons of Dog Diapers For Older Dogs
Diapers must be consistently checked and changed
While they are convenient, dog diapers must be checked and changed as required. Just as you would for a baby or toddler.
The uncertainties of incontinence and bowel movement are such that diapers need constant checking to see whether they are wet or dry, loaded or unloaded.
Dirty diapers can lead to infection in the case of surgical wounds or rashes.
Indeed, if a wet diaper is left unchanged, skin discomfort for the dog from urine burns or infections can lead to a lot of yelping and displeasure. Worse still, if not checked and changed as required, they can also be breeding grounds for organisms harmful to your older dog.
Need to be safely disposed of
Another con of dog diapers is that they need to be disposed of properly after use.
Unlike baby diapers which can simply be thrown away, you will have to take care to seal up and dispose of a used dog diaper in such a way as to not attract flies or other pests, and also so as not to cause any unpleasant smells.
Can lead to dog-to-human infections
Just how many animal diseases are communicable to humans is unknown. But the need for a diaper to be changed regularly poses the risk of touching dog urine or fecal matter.
There is a need, therefore, to exercise extreme caution when changing an older dog’s diaper. Ideally, wear gloves whenever you do so and safely dispose of the diaper.
May require training and patience
A common saying is that “you can’t train an old dog new tricks”.
Introducing new habits or, in this case, new apparel can be exceptionally difficult for both you and your older dog.
A lot of time training your dog to get used to wearing diapers may be required, at the end of which your dog could still refuse to wear them as it finds them an irritant.
Can be expensive
While there are some cheaper options available, depending on the brand and size you choose, dog diapers can be costly – especially if you have an older large breed dog. You will likely go through several a day, which can add up quickly.
Diapers might be unnecessary and premature
A misdiagnosis of incontinence is a very good reason why you shouldn’t rush to put your dog in diapers.
A urinary tract infection, congenital defects, bladder stones, prostate diseases, or even hormone depletion can cause involuntary urination in dogs. Such conditions can be treated with medication or surgery.
In some cases, the dog could just be nervous, fearful, or excited after a road trip or house move. Masking the problem with diapers can exacerbate medical conditions and therefore, it is important to consult your vet for a proper diagnosis.
Diapers might influence bad behavior
Dogs given diapers for all the wrong reasons can behave badly.
Take, for instance, putting your older dog in diapers just because you are unavailable to walk your dog and think making it wear diapers will save you the cost of hiring a dog walker.
So, you decide to buy your older dog diapers and leave them cooked up in the house all day and night – after all, he has a diaper on, right?
Treating your older dog (or any dog) like this will inevitably create a very frustrated animal who is prone to destructive behavior as a way of releasing pent-up energy.
If you have an older dog that is less active than it used to be, giving it a diaper and keeping it indoors the entire time is not healthy behavior and will manifest in equally bad dog behavior.
Rather look for alternative ways to ensure your dog gets enough exercise, either by taking shorter but frequent walks or, yes, hiring that dog walker to take it to the park.
Diapers are not easy to keep on
Because older dogs still move around quite a lot, you might find it quite difficult to keep a diaper on your dog. While tightening a diaper can be a solution, making it too tight and snug is likely to cause discomfort.
Neither are you assured that your doggie’s diaper will stay on all night.
There are less intrusive alternatives
Let’s face it, a dog in a diaper is an unnatural sight.
There are other alternatives to dealing with incontinence if you aren’t prepared to resort to diapers.
Indoor pee mats and artificial grass pads can be what your dog needs to deal with declining mobility and incontinence. They won’t prevent every accident, but they are a useful stop-gap if your dog doesn’t yet require diapers.