three cute patterned dog diapers by CuteBone from Amazon

The Best Dog Diapers and How to Use Them, According to a Vet

Accidents happen! These dog diapers help keep messes from getting out of hand when your dog can't hold it.
By Erica Sweeney
July 27, 2021
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Cleaning up your dog's messes isn't fun. But pet parents know that potty accidents happen from time to time, and managing your female dog's heat cycles can be challenging. Dog diapers can be a valuable solution. 

If you've never diapered your dog, it's important to understand what kind of dog diapers will work best for your pet, how they should fit, and how to use them. Stephanie Sheen, DVM, a veterinarian with pet health company Fuzzy, urges pet parents to talk to their vet before using dog diapers. In some instances, medication or other treatments may be needed. 

Why Do Dogs Need Diapers? 

Urinary or fecal incontinence is the most common reason dogs might need diapers, Sheen says. Even if they're house trained, some dogs can lose control and accidentally pee or poop if they have another issue going on, like a urinary tract infection, bladder condition, diabetes, spinal injury, or other neurological problem.

Older dogs and pets with disabilities are more at risk for incontinence. Senior dogs sometimes lose control over some of their bodily functions, and incontinence can be a symptom of canine cognitive dysfunction, which resembles dementia in dogs. Female dogs are more prone to leaking urine as they get older, Sheen says. 

Dog diapers are also useful for intact female dogs during their heat cycles, she explains. Diapers help keep your furniture and rugs clean and prevent your pet from licking her backside during the cycle. 

Sheen doesn't recommend using dog diapers for potty training puppies. "They can cause skin infections and discomfort if not managed appropriately and could become an ingestion hazard," she says. "They will also slow the process of appropriate potty training." 

What Kind of Dog Diapers Does My Pet Need? 

Choosing the best dog diaper for your pet depends on a few factors, including whether your dog is male or female and why they need a diaper. 

"Female dog diapers cover the back end entirely, both the anus and the vulva, similar to what you might think of a traditional diaper, albeit with a hole for the tail," Sheen says. 

Male dogs with fecal incontinence need this kind of diaper, too, she says. But, if they have urinary incontinence, your best bet is a belly band, which wraps around the dog's stomach and covers the foreskin. 

Dog diapers also come in disposable and reusable varieties. Disposable diapers offer convenience since you can just toss them in the trash, but they're less eco-friendly, Sheen says. Reusable diapers might save you money in the long run, if your dog needs diapers for the long term. 

Most dogs don't like wearing diapers, so keeping it on your pet can be a challenge. One solution is suspenders that attach to the diaper and wrap around your pet's chest. "There are also fashionable covers available to go over the diapers that can make them less unsightly and even a little fun," Sheen says.

How to Use Dog Diapers

  • Make sure it fits well. Use a soft measuring tape or piece of string to measure your dog according to a product's instructions. 
  • Change the diaper as soon as possible once it's soiled. Not doing so could lead to an infection or diaper rash, causing itching, burning, or inflammation. 
  • Clean your pet before putting on a new diaper. Use baby wipes or rinse them off in the tub. Sheen says clipping the fur where the diaper sits can help prevent irritation. 
  • Let your pet have air time in between diapers. Your dog's skin needs time to breathe, so let them go diaper-free for part of the day to avoid moisture getting trapped against the skin. 
  • Avoid overnight diaper-wearing, if possible. This ensures your pup isn't sitting in a soiled diaper for long periods.

8 Best Dog Diapers to Prevent the Mess

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