Spay Incontinence

Anecdotally it is known in the breed there is a chance that a bitch that has been spayed will develop spay incontinence and this is supported by the following research:

Incontinence is mentioned in the KC Breed Health Survey 2004 and appears in the list of the most common specific conditions reported.


The key findings included in more recent research published in September 2017 indicate: 

  • Urinary incontinence affects 3.14% of bitches overall, but affects over 15% of bitches in some high-risk breeds 
  • High-risk breeds include the Irish Setter, Dobermann, Bearded Collie, Rough Collie and Dalmatian 
  • Bitches weighing above average for their breed had 1.31 times the odds of urinary incontinence compared with bitches weighing below average
  • Older bitches were also predisposed, with bitches aged between 9 and 12 years old having 3.86 times the odds compared to younger bitches
  • Neutered bitches had 2.23 times the odds compared with entire bitches

RVC veterinary epidemiologist and VetCompass researcher Dr Dan O’Neill said: “This urinary incontinence study has uncovered dramatic breed predispositions that have previously been hidden to vets and owners. Overall, about 3% of bitches were affected but this rose to over 30% in the Irish Setter and over 20% in the Dobermann with many other breeds also predisposed. Vets can now use these results to alert owners to typical clinical signs in order to ensure earlier treatment and better outcomes. The study also suggests increased risk in heavier and neutered bitches. Following on from this study, a VetCompass Masters project supported by BSAVA PetSavers is working to unravel these associations in order to identify potential preventive strategies, especially in those highly predisposed breeds.”


In 2018, in her critical review of acquired urinary incontinence in neutered female dogs, Gemma Gormley B.Sc (Hons) Veterinary Nursing states:

Based upon this review, veterinary nurses should be advising owners that neutering females does carry the risk of AUI development, caused by hormonal changes affecting bladder function.