Proin For Dogs: Incontinence Medicine, Dosage & Side Effects

by Richard Walther, DVM
Pawlicy Advisor
Pet Care Blog
Proin For Incontinence In Dogs
Proin is prescribed for the management of urinary incontinence in dogs, but is it safe? Find out more about Proin dosage, side effects, and more.

Has your housetrained pup lost the ability to control their bladder? Maybe it appears your dog is leaking urine in their sleep? Don't worry, urinary incontinence might be more common than you think — the condition affects at least one out of every five dogs.

Proin (phenylpropanolamine hydrochloride or PPA) is one of the most commonly prescribed drugs to help dogs with urinary incontinence, but is it safe for pets to stay on for the rest of their life? Read on to find out more about the best Proin dosage for dogs, common side effects, possible alternatives, and more.

Table of Contents

Pro Tip: A comprehensive pet insurance policy can cover prescription medications like Proin to help your pet get better. Be sure to do your research and compare different pet insurance plans in order to find the one that best suits your pet’s needs.

What is urinary incontinence in dogs?

Urinary incontinence in dogs is the loss of voluntary control of urination due to urethral sphincter hypotonus — a condition in which a weak urethral muscle is unable to control urine leaks. Dogs of all breeds and ages can display signs of urinary incontinence. In fact, one in five dogs is affected by this condition and most of them are unaware that they are leaking urine.

If your four-legged friend is showing any of the following symptoms, consider getting in touch with your vet:

  • Frequent urination
  • Dog peeing in sleep
  • Dog leaking urine (while lying down)
  • Excessive licking of the genital area
  • Genital area appearing red and irritated

What causes incontinence in dogs?

There are several potential reasons for why your dog may pee while sleeping, including:

  • Neurological causes (such as brain diseases and spinal injuries)
  • Bladder storage dysfunction
  • Bladder tumors
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Anatomic abnormalities (such as an injury or congenital defect)
  • Antibiotics

There are several variations of this condition (as it could also affect the bowels) but urinary incontinence in dogs is often due to urethral sphincter hypotonus, which can be treated medically.

It's estimated that urinary incontinence affects more than 20% of all spayed dogs, especially large breeds. The condition can affect any dog but it is most common in medium- to large-sized breeds, females, and mid-aged to senior pets.

incontinent beagle sleeping on couch

What is Proin for dogs?

Proin, the short name for phenylpropanolamine (often abbreviated as PPA), is a popular prescription medication for urethral incontinence in dogs.

Until recently, phenylpropanolamine for dogs was used as an off-label treatment for incontinence.

Phenylpropanolamine’s original use was as a decongestant for humans, but now it is sold for veterinary use only. It can also help with a stuffy nose in dogs which is why it’s sometimes used in nasal decongestant sprays.

How does Proin work?

The active ingredient phenylpropanolamine in Proin assists in tightening the bladder sphincter muscle, which helps control urine leakage. According to Veterinary Practice News, clinical response is reported as excellent in up to 90% of affected dogs treated with Proin.

Increased levels of phenylpropanolamine in the bloodstream have been associated with adverse side effects such as increased heart rate, high blood pressure, decreased appetite, and hyperexcitability. To combat these potential adverse effects, Proin enables a sustained release of phenylpropanolamine, making sure that the levels in the bloodstream are controlled.

What's the right Proin dosage for dogs?

Proin is available in chewable tablets of 25 mg, 50 mg, and 75 mg. It’s generally recommended to give a 0.4 to 0.8 mg dosage of Proin per one pound of the dog’s body weight.** However, the new, extended-release formulation, Proin ER, offers a once-a-day dosing option. Plus, every pet’s medical history is unique, so the exact dosage of Proin to give your dog should be determined by your vet and strictly adhered to for safety.

How is Proin administered?

Proin is administered orally in the form of a liquid or tablet. Some forms of phenylpropanolamine must be administered a few times a day, while the new Proin ER is only given once in 24 hours.

It can be given with or without food, but if your dog starts vomiting after taking Proin on an empty stomach, be sure to give future doses with food and make sure they have access to fresh water at all times. In dogs who suffer from urinary incontinence during the night, it is recommended to give a larger dose of Proin at bedtime.

Consult with your vet to confirm the best manner of administration and dosing schedules for Proin.

How long does Proin take to start working?

Proin takes effect quickly, in one to two hours but it doesn’t stay in the system for long. Typically, Proin remains in the body between four and seven hours.

What if I miss a dose of the medication?

If you miss one dose, give it as soon as you remember. However, if it’s close to the time for the following dose, skip the missed dose and return to the normal schedule. Never give double doses of Proin.

What are the side effects of Proin in dogs?

As with other medications, Proin comes with certain side effects that pet parents should be aware of, including:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Restlessness
  • Irritation
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased thirst
  • Decreased appetite
  • Hypertension
  • Pale gums
  • Urination problems
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, or face
  • Hives

More serious side effects include weight loss, anorexia, behavioral changes,proteinuria(abnormal quantities of protein in the urine), kidney failure, collapse, seizures, and stroke-like signs.

If you notice these or any other side effects, get in touch with your vet right away.

Are there any drug interactions with Proin?

The following drugs should be used with caution when given with Proin: NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), aspirin, ephedrine or epinephrine, MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) like anipryl, selegiline, preventic collars, isoflurane/sevoflurane/desflurane, reserpine, and certain antidepressants.

Make sure to tell your vet about any medications your dog is taking.

Are there other risks I should know?

The drug is not labeled for use in dogs weighing less than ten pounds, as well as in pregnant or lactating dogs, and dogs allergic to it. It should also be used cautiously in dogs with glaucoma, enlarged prostate, seizures, diabetes mellitus, elevated thyroid hormone, heart or vessel disorders, high blood pressure, or kidney disease.

golden retriever takes daily incontinence pill

How long can dogs stay on Proin?

One study has shown that Proin is effective for dogs for at least a 28-day period. However, once a dog requires it, they will need to take it for the rest of their life. In general, Proin only provides relief for as long as it is used.

Where can I buy Proin for dogs?

Proin requires a prescription from your vet who will evaluate if your furry friend will benefit from using it. The drug is sold in pet pharmacies and online.

Proin is not available to be shipped to Oregon.

How do I store phenylpropanolamine?

Store phenylpropanolamine at room temperature, protected from moisture and light. Keep the drug out of your dog’s reach in order to prevent accidental ingestion or overdose.

Can I wean my dog off Proin?

Even though Proin is typically prescribed for long-term use, a dosage decrease might be possible in case of positive results.

There are instances where owners simply stop giving the drug on their own with no adverse effects, but it is best to take the dog off slowly to see if their body won't revert back to leaking urine. Whether this happens will largely depend on the underlying reason for the urinary incontinence.

Don’t try to wean your dog off of any drugs without the advice of a licensed veterinarian.

Are there other ways to treat incontinence in dogs?

If medications aren’t effective or are contraindicated, other options include collagen injections or colposuspension surgery to tighten the urethral sphincter muscle.

For some dogs without a medical abnormality, a hydraulic urethral occluder is recommended, where a silicon cuff is placed around the urethra surgically.

Pro Tip: While it is not possible for an owner to predict their dog’s need for medication, being prepared by signing up for a pet insurance plan with prescription medication coverage can help pay for crucial drugs prescribed by their vet.

Key Takeaways

  • Dogs of all ages and all breeds, especially large-breed spayed dogs, can display signs of urinary incontinence, such as bladder leakage.
  • Proin is a prescription-only medicine for dogs that aids in the management of urinary incontinence.
  • The Proin dosage for dogs is calculated according to the dog’s body weight and in consultation with a vet.
  • Possible side effects include hyperactivity, restlessness, vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, hypertension, urination problems, difficulty breathing, etc.
  • If you believe your dog suffers from incontinence or if you notice any side effects caused by Proin, contact your vet.

Ricky Walther, DVM

About the author

Richard Walther, DVM

Associate Veterinarian - Petco

Ricky Walther, DVM, is a small animal general practitioner in the greater Sacramento, California area. Realizing the positive financial and medical impact that pet insurance can provide for pet parents and the profession, he lends support and advice to companies like Pawlicy Advisor that simplify the process of connecting with veterinary financing resources.

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