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Just like all of us, age can wear on a dog’s ability to manage its own bodily functions. Whether you have a new puppy who needs a little protection or an old friend who needs some help, you should know whether or not it is okay for dogs to wear a diaper.
It is okay for dogs to wear diapers as long as:
- The diaper is explicitly made for dogs
- It is changed as soon as possible when they soil themselves
- They are properly trained to wear diapers
All of that will take some explanation, however. Since we can’t talk directly with dogs, keep reading for some insight into using doggie diapers effectively and making sure your dog is comfortable while wearing them.
Unfortunately, our Mini Goldendoodle has become more and more incontinent in her senior years and we have gone through our share of diaper changes. It was a challenge at first but we have settled on a routine and she has become comfortable wearing them nearly all the time.
Can Dogs Wear Diapers Safely?
There are a large variety of reasons that a dog may end up needing to wear a diaper, both temporarily and permanently, including:
- Incontinence due to age or other illness
- To keep them from picking at stitches or other surgery areas (especially after being fixed)
- To keep new puppies from soiling their kennel while their owners are at work
The good news is that dog diapers are completely safe to use so long as you follow some basic recommendations. Improper use, such as using diapers that are too small, can lead to a lot of discomforts or even an infection.
However, the one thing that diapers should never be used for is as a replacement for potty training. Even the most comfortable diapers are only so comfortable for your pup; forcing them to use diapers for their entire life instead of just potty training them is cruel and abusive.
Can Dog Diapers Be Used for Poop?
Although dog diapers are most commonly used to address urinary incontinence, some brands can handle poop as well, albeit not in a very comfortable way for the dog.
Many dogs just won’t poop when they are wearing a diaper. If your pup just has some urinary incontinence, it’s unlikely that they will poop in their diaper, so don’t worry.
In our own experience, the average dog diaper does not handle poop since the cutout for the tail also leaves the anus uncovered.
How Often Should I Change My Dog’s Diaper?
Putting a diaper on a dog is such a foreign concept to many people that it can be hard to tell when and why to change it. Thankfully, the answer is simple:
Treat the dog’s diaper just like you would treat a baby’s. Change it every time they make a mess in it and be on top of checking it frequently. Many diaper brands have an indicator strip embedded that changes color when moisture is detected.
We check our dog’s diaper many times throughout the day when we take it off for her to go outside.
If you forget and leave a wet or soiled diaper on your dog, it can lead to a whole host of issues (in addition to just being unsanitary for your poor furry friend). These include:
- A wide variety of skin rashes and lesions
- Urinary tract infections
- Irritable behavior, loss of appetite, and your pup generally feeling sick and uncomfortable
Clearly, you need to stay on top of changing your dog’s diaper every time he or she soils it in order to avoid those issues and keep your pup healthy.
How Long Can You Leave a Dog Diaper On?
We’re all busier than ever these days, between work, family life, and everything else, so most dogs get left home alone on a regular basis. This leads to the next logical question: for just how long can you leave a diaper on a dog?
A dog can wear a diaper comfortably for 6 hours or more, as long as it remains clean. A soiled diaper should be removed immediately and replaced. However, until that diaper actually becomes soiled, there isn’t any reason they can’t wear it all day.
But there are two big caveats to this:
- Dogs still need breaks from their diapers if they wear them full-time. Every few hours, take them outside to play and remove their diaper. This is crucial as their bodies and skin need breathing room after being in a diaper for hours.
- If you live in a humid area, you may need to provide your dog with more breaks as its skin will get wet and rashy much faster, even if the diaper is clean.
That being said, so long as you give them enough breaks and keep an eye on them, your dog should be able to wear a clean diaper all day.
Can Dogs Wear Diapers at Night?
Second to being gone at work all day, nighttime is likely the other scenario where your dog is left unattended for long stretches of time. Is it safe for a dog to wear a diaper all night?
As a general rule, dogs should not wear diapers at night because you won’t be there to change it for them when it gets soiled. This will leave them sitting in a soiled diaper all night, almost certainly leading to infections and rashes.
Instead, consider these two fixes depending on your situation:
- If your dog is crated at night, try an elevated dog bed specifically made for incontinence, such as the Walkin’ Wheels bed. Any urine your dog passes will simply run through the mesh and collect on the pads below, leaving them free to sleep comfortably and avoiding any complications from overnight diaper wear.
- If your dog roams free at night, then it’s a bit trickier. You will either need to get up halfway through the night and check their diaper—or, even better, begin crate training her. If you don’t want to crate train, then think about penning her into a single room of the house with hard floors so the mess is easy to clean and she won’t get soiled.
- If your dog sleeps in the bed with you. Usually, dogs will sleep in the same spot on your bed. Try using leakproof bedwetting mats designed for kids. This has been an excellent solution for us so far. We didn’t have the heart to change our dog’s sleeping routine so we became creative and made it work. Tip: buy several pads so you always have a clean one ready when the soiled ones are in the wash.
At the end of the day, sometimes you have to go with a solution that’s not ideal just because nothing else works.
If you absolutely have to have your dog in diapers at night because you don’t want to crate train him or her, or clean up messes in the morning, then just be sure to check on her at least once a night to change her diaper if need be.
Can a Dog Wear a Diaper While in Heat?
Besides for elderly dogs with incontinence, the second biggest use for doggie diapers is to help keep female dogs in heat clean.
A well-fitted, properly absorbent diaper is the perfect solution for keeping messes at bay as your lady dog goes through heat. However, just like with incontinence, you’ll need to pay close attention and change her diaper when it becomes soiled.
It’s also extremely important to know that a diaper will not keep a male dog from being able to get her pregnant. The male might simply tear it off, force it to the side, or otherwise get past it, and you’ll end up with an unexpected litter.
How to Train Your Dog to Wear Diapers
Naturally, training your dog to tolerate wearing a diaper takes time, commitment, and patience—but it’s worth it in the end. Here’s how to do it:
- First, start by grabbing some high-quality and “high-value” treats. High value simply means that it’s something your dog will work hard to win.
- Take the diaper, place it on the ground, and reward your dog when they leave it alone with the “leave it” command. Training and rewarding the “leave it” behavior beforehand makes it more likely your pup won’t pick at the diapers once wearing them full time.
- Next, place the diaper on your dog and give him/her a high-value treat. Do this every time you put the diaper on for the first week or so. This gets your dog to associate the act of putting on the diaper with good rewards, which means she’ll be excited about it all!
- Lastly, watch your dog and discourage picking or nibbling behaviors. Start by having your dog wear it for only a few minutes and work your way up, rewarding him/her when you put the diaper on and remove it. If they pick at it, just stop them and redirect that energy toward a toy, rewarding them when they comply.
It’s going to take some determination and patience, but if you follow those steps, your doggie will get it eventually. Also, remember that dogs learn much faster with positive reinforcement than negative, so don’t react too much when she picks at it. Simply redirect her attention and reward her again!
We’ve been lucky with our dog. She accepted wearing diapers pretty much from the beginning. She’s always liked wearing sweaters and we think she viewed diapers as another type of sweater.
Doggie Diapers: A Good Idea?
Whether your best friend was just born, is in heat, or is nearing the end of her life, a dog diaper is a fantastic tool that will increase her comfort and help you all at the same time.
Like any tool, dog diapers must be used properly, or else there could be serious consequences. Just follow our tips above, and you and your pup will be used to them in no time!