Lapis ISSN 2398-2969

Urinary incontinence

Contributor(s): Anna Meredith, Lesa Thompson


  • Urinary incontinence is the inability to control urination, with the involuntary passage of urine. 
  • True incontinence in rabbits should be distinguished from polyuria and other conditions that → urine scalding of the perineal skin. 
  • Cause: neurological disease, inflammatory disease of the lower urinary tract, partial obstruction due to urolith or other mass, congenital abnormality, hormone-responsive incontinence due to neutering, neoplastic disease of the lower urinary tract. 
  • Signs: urine-soaked perineum, urine scalding of perineal skin, absence of voluntary urination, loss of litter-training.
  • Diagnosis: full neurological examination, urinalysis, ultrasonography, radiography, CT, MRI, hematology, blood biochemistry.
  • Treatment: specific treatment must be directed at the underlying cause of the incontinence.
  • Prognosis: depends on cause; generally moderate/good for non-neurological causes and guarded/poor for neurological causes.

Presenting signs

  • Constant or intermittent dribbling of urine. 
  • This may be difficult to detect due to the proximity of the rabbit's perineal area to the ground, and rabbits usually present with urine soaked perineal fur and inflamed perineal skin (urine scald).
  • Other signs that may be seen include abnormal stance, uneaten cecotrophs, a foul smell from the perineum and anorexia.
  • Specific conditions may have other clinical signs.

Age predisposition

  • All ages may be affected depending on cause.

Sex predisposition

  • Does may have increased incidence of urinary incontinence after ovariohysterectomy Ovariohysterectomy, multiparity, or with aging.

Breed predisposition

  • No known breed predisposition.

Public health considerations

Cost considerations 

Special risks, eg anesthetic

  • Sedation Sedation or anesthesia Anesthesia: overview may be required for some procedures, eg cystocentesis and imaging.
  • Drug selection should consider the possibility of renal disease associated with the urinary incontinence.


This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to purchase a 30 day trial, or Login


This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to purchase a 30 day trial, or Login


This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to purchase a 30 day trial, or Login

Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Corona-Quintanilla D L, López-Juárez R, Pacheco P et al (2020) Bladder and urethral dysfunction in multiparous and mature rabbits correlates with abnormal activity of pubococcygeus and bulbospongiosus muscles. Neurourol Urodyn 39 (1), 116-124 PubMed.
  • Rajasekaran M R, Fu J, Nguyen M U et al (2019) Age and multiparity related urethral sphincter muscle dysfunction in a rabbit model: Potential roles of TGF-β and Wnt-β catenin signaling pathways. Neurourol Urodyn 38 (2), 607-614 PubMed.
  • Bujok J, Wincewicz E, Czerski A & Zawadzki W (2016) Influence of ovariohysterectomy and deslorelin acetate on the spontaneous activity of the rabbit urinary bladder in vitro. Theriogenol 85 (3), 441-446 PubMed.
  • Richardson V (2012) Urogenital diseases in rabbits. In Pract 34 (10), 554-563 VetMedResource.

Other sources of information

  • Bourne D & Raftery A (2011) Urinary Incontinence in Rabbits. In: Widpro - The Electronic Encyclopaedia and Library for Wildlife. Website:
  • Harcourt-Brown F (2002) Urogenital Diseases. In: Textbook of Rabbit Medicine. Elsevier Science Ltd. pp 335-352.