Dog and Diapers

Expressing the bladder is still recommended when you use dog diapers or male wraps. It is necessary to ensure the bladder is fully emptied every 8 hours to prevent infection from small amounts of urine remaining in the bladder. Diapers can cause skin irritation in pets. Expressing the bladder keeps the amount of urine coming in contact with your pet’s skin to a minimum. Information on how to express your pet’s bladder can be found at Express a dog or cat.

Pet diapers can be helpful in managing bowel incontinence, but they are only one part of a complete program of bowel care. If you express your pet’s bowel, feed your pet a diet that produces quality stools, and work with your pet’s natural elimination schedule, diapering may be unnecessary. Expressing the bowel is healthier for your pet than wearing a diaper. It is better for your pet’s skin, and lessens the possibility that your pet will develop a Urinary tract infection from fecal waste coming in contact with the urethra. It is also better for your pet’s peace of mind because adult pets can smell waste even if they are unable to feel it. Information on bowel care can be found at Bowel management in incontinent pets.

Diapers offer some protection for pets who drag on the floor. The padding helps protect your pet’s bottom from scrapes and carpet burns. Diapers also prevent dirt and germs on the floor from entering the urethra and causing a Urinary tract infection. Therefore, diapers can be useful even for pets who have bowel and bladder control but cannot walk.


Much of the following information is reprinted from the HandicappedPets Discussion Board at We welcome you to post your questions and concerns there!

Disposable diapers

I use regular pampers (Parents Choice) for Molly. I use this brand because it’s thicker than the others. As you know they come in all sizes. You many have to try a few different ones to find the right fit. My husband cuts holes for her tail. I then use a touch-fastener closures diaper (purchased from Doggone Wheels) on top of that to hold it in place. It has really worked for Molly. No accidents and no messes. It took a few weeks for her to finally leave it on……but now there are NO problems. I change her diaper when I’m home as many times as you would a baby, but when we’re at work, she keeps it on all day.

(Note: For some pets disposable diapers fit best if put on backward with the tapes to the back.)

Cloth diapers

I use clothe baby diapers on my male dachshund held in place with a male wrap. Works great.  I found clothe baby diapers folded into a rectangle worked best for me beause my guy chewed the disposable ones and made quite a mess. Also, I don’t like using things that add to the glut of refuse. Lots of laundry but I don’t end up laundrying his bedding as often.

Cat diapers

kitten diaper

First of all – not all diapers are sized the same and it makes no difference if you buy “cheap” off brand diapers or compare sizes between several “name” brand diapers. Currently, we have three in diapers. When choosing a diaper for a cat, the least important criteria is the “weight range” of the diaper. In the cat world, choosing a diaper to fit one needs to figure in how much the cat weighs, how much meat is on the hips and how long they are from “waist” to base of tail and if they have a tail. Our spina bifida (manx syndrome) babies were easy to choose diapers for because they fit snuggly up against the rear. Cats with tails are more difficult as they even seem to have small differences in where the tail is positioned on the body.

Our two Ch tailed boys both weigh 6.5 pounds however one is very long from the waist (mid point of the body), the other is quite a bit shorter. The shorter guy does well in the onezies and I actually find an off brand fits him better than name brand. The other one with a longer body needs the 8 to 14# range in order to get enough length of diaper to go up far enough on his waist to stay securely. Dallas, our little girl who is rear paralyzed with both of her legs fused at the hip and situated on the right side of her body wears the size up from premies. She is only 4# and since her hips have atrophied, she is very thin in the hips. We also cannot diaper her in the normal way because there is no way to close the diaper.

We discovered that if we turn the diaper sideways, we can then diaper around her tail and under her belly between where her legs are fused. Dallas isn’t incontinent, she actually “scoots” using her front legs to glide her all over the house. Her private parts however rest directly on the carpet/tile and we worry about her rubbing herself raw or getting dirty. The padding of the diaper protects her and helps her “glide”.

Bunny diapers

If you use diapers on a rabbit, you either need to make the tail hole large enough for the pellets to drop out so the rabbit can eat them, or else take the cecal pellets (the soft ones) out of the diaper and give them to your rabbit at changing time. They are a normal part of the rabbit’s diet.

Preemie diapers

A tiny baby might need preemie diapers; hospital preemie diapers come in sizes, so you might need a hospital or a helpful pharmacist to order them for you. I don’t think there’s much size variation in the preemies you buy at the store, so they might be too big.

Tiny diapers

kitty diaper

Harry only weighs about 1.25 lbs so I would need specialty micro-preemie diapers, I think. I tried Huggies Preemies for up to 6 lbs but they were too big. I am presently using a baby mitten with two holes for his legs (he has absolutely NO tail) into which I have placed a maxi pad. I am affixing it with VetWrap which doesn’t hurt his skin.

In this photo, a kitten is wearing a diaper made from a man’s sock with a panty liner inside.



The pullup pants worked fine for Cody even though they don’t have tabs. To put them on, face backwards and straddle the dog between your legs. Then put the back legs in the holes and pull them up. When you pull them up, it is best to pull up and out at the same time. That way if there is a little poop stuck in the hair on the rear, you aren’t smearing it all across the dog’s butt. Then to take them off, just pull down and they’re off. Of course, this was easy for me because Cody was an Aussie so I didn’t have to worry about a tail causing problems. <snip> To hold the pants up, I just used masking tape and made several rounds around the waistband (on the diaper, not the hair). This worked great to hold them up.

Keeping Pet diapers on

cat wears a diaper

Some pets keep diapers on while others scoot out of them. There are several ways to keep diapers on. A simple solution is to put an infant onesie on over the diaper, as shown above. If the onesie slips off the shoulders you can fasten it with a safe breakaway collar (that will not choke your pet if caught on something) as shown below, or try a turtleneck onesie. You can also use a onesie with a string that goes from one arm hole, across the back, back out the other arm hole, and tied on top. The string makes the shoulder area smaller so your pet won’t scoot out.

cat in diaper

Boy’s briefs

One more thing you can do, is measure the dogs waist, then purchase boys underwear one size smaller than the measurement. These will fit perfectly – with the hole already cut out for the tail. Can be used with pad or over diaper to secure it. Very good for the senior dog who has a bit of a dribble.

Diapers at night

Sam in Diaper

Annie’s problem is that she can’t tell when she has to go. She can’t tell that her bowels are moving until the poop is already coming out.

Diapers will obviously solve the problem of the poop trails (boy, do I know about those!), but they create their own set of problems. The worst of which is battling constant UTI’s and bladder infections from the bacteria in her feces. After having to put Annie on antibiotics for a UTI for the second time in 3 months, my husband and I decided that her wearing a diaper, except at night, is out. So, we call out the Poop Alert whenever Annie has an accident, clean it up and go on our merry way.

Skin care with diapers

Urine and waste trapped in the fur can cause skin problems. Frequent bathing of the diaper area is important for healthy skin. Shaving the diaper area makes skin care easier. You can shave your pet at home or ask your vet to do it. Even vets who do not offer grooming services will do a “sanitary clip” for health reasons.

You can apply a protective barrier to your pet’s skin. 3M Cavilon Barrier Spray is a product hospitals use to prevent and treat skin breakdown caused by bodily fluids. It dries in 30 seconds and lasts up to 72 hours. It is sold to consumers under the brand name NexCare No-Sting Liquid Bandage. Be sure to shave the area before applying it or it will stick in the fur.

You can use ointments and creams on the skin as well. Products containing zinc oxide (a common ingredient in diaper cream) are poisonous to pets if swallowed. Do not use anything containing zinc oxide if you think your pet may lick it. Powder helps keep the skin dry, but take care that it does not block the urethra. Fresh air is good for the skin and you may find it best to let your pet go without a diaper for part of each day.

Diaper sizes

These are the diaper sizes worn by some of the pets on the HandicappedPets message board. As you can see, diaper size is not based on weight alone. It also depends on how long the pet is from waist to base of tail and how big the pet is in the hips. You may need to experiment with several sizes and brands before you find the best fit for your pet.

Name Breed Weight Brand Size
Mini-rex rabbit
DMH cat
Tailless Siamese
DSH cat
DSH cat
American Eskimo
Cocker spaniel
Cocker spaniel
Australian shepherd
Basset hound
Basset hound
3 lbs
4-5 lbs
6.5 lbs
6-8 lbs
8 lbs
9-10 lbs
12 lbs
12 lbs
15.5 lbs
18 lbs
30 lbs
33 lbs
37 lbs
45 lbs
55 lbs
any brand
Giant Eagle
Parent’s Choice
Parent’s Choice
GoodNites Pull-Ups
SleepWell Pull-Ups
Assurance briefs
Three (for length)
Adult Small

Male wraps

A male dog with urinary incontinence can wear a male wrap (belly band) instead of a diaper. A male wrap is a wide belt that fits around the waist and covers the male area. You put an absorbent pad such as a sanitary napkin or Poise pad in it to catch leakage. Serenity Ultimate pads are a good choice for dogs who need greater absorbency. (Male wraps are not effective for cats because the anatomy is different.) There are many brands of male wraps available. Here are two brands that have been recommended on the HandicappedPets message board:

Depends as male wraps

I have a little Scotty that loves to mark. I have been buying the male belly bands, but hate having to wash them all the time. I finally found that Depends easy fit work perfectly, as he has a 25″ waist. I just run the elastic strap thru the button holes and tie it together. Now I can toss them.

Back brace male wraps

Bag of 30 Adult Sanitary pads (hospital surplus) at goodwill $2.00

1 Black & red back brace with touch-fastener closures at goodwill $1.00

1 A&D ointment at local pharmacy $1.77

Dog Back Brace with Diaper


A urinary bag or U-bag is one more way to catch urine. It has limited usefulness but is worth mentioning for the small number of cases where it could be very helpful. A U-bag is a plastic bag with adhesive around the opening. If you shave the dog’s abdomen and fit the U-bag over the penis, it will adhere to the skin and stay in place. A U-bag works best with a dog who does not move around, such as the quadriplegic dog shown in the picture below. It ensures the dog is not lying on wet bedding, and has the advantage of collecting urine in a closed container if there is concern about spreading disease, such as distemper. U-bags are used in hospitals. To find a supplier online, search under “Hollister U-bag”.

U-Bag on Dog

Helping Incontinent Pets

I just wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your site. I had recently fallen in love and adopted a female dog that was fecal and urine incontinent. I was getting extremely frustrated with the accidents and messes, to the point that I wondered if I could keep her. Then I came across your article about expressing her anus to make her urine and defecate on demand. Also the tips about the food are great! This has given me so much hope!! I know I can get this under control now. Thank you!!!