For most pet parents, house training their dog is one of the top priorities when bringing a new furry friend home. Still, despite the fact that most dogs are house trained and happy to do their business in the great outdoors, accidents can happen. In fact, behavior—including house soiling—is one of the top reasons that people say they surrender their pets, according to the MSPCA.
Luckily, there is a simple solution for pets who are learning to house train, or who are older or have health issues that make it difficult to control their bladder. A dog diaper— available as both female dog diapers and male dog diapers/wraps—can be a big help to this messy and frustrating problem. Keep in mind, however, that “dogs should not wear diapers all of the time, and they need to be changed frequently,” says Dr. Jamie Whittenburg, a veterinarian based in Lubbock, Texas.
If you believe that dog diapers might help with your own pup, here’s what you should know.
Dog Diapers: Why You Might Need Them
Using a dog diaper while you’re still training your dog might seem obvious, but Dr. Whittenburg cautions against it. “Dogs that are house trained with diapers very often never learn to not soil in the house, and the issue becomes a lifelong problem,” she says.
Besides potty training, there are several additional reasons that a dog might need diapers. Some common ones include:
Also referred to as urethral incontinence, this ailment results when the dog loses voluntary control of their urination. It can be caused by many things like neurological dysfunction, urinary tract infections, urinary tract cancers, urethral disorders, anatomic abnormalities, and urine retention.
A dog suffering from urinary incontinence should be seen by a veterinarian. If, after discussing the dog’s issue with a veterinarian and identifying the cause, the problem persists, then a diaper might be helpful, says Dr. Whittenburg.
An intact (not spayed) female dog in heat will typically have blood-tinged vaginal discharge for about a week when she is in heat, which can pose an issue for owners, says Dr. Whittenburg. This can be a good time to use diapers, but remember to change the diaper frequently. “I also suggest that dogs in heat sleep in a crate at night with another absorbent material, like potty pads, so they can avoid wearing the diaper at night,” Dr. Whittenburg adds.
Older dogs—especially those who have difficulty with mobility—may find it hard to get up in time to make it outside. Old age can also bring issues like canine dysfunction, says Dr. Whittenburg, which may make a dog forget their housetraining.
Many issues in older dogs can be controlled with medications, but diapers may also be of use for these dogs when they sleep, or when they are left alone for longer periods of time.
Do Dog Diapers Work?
Although every dog will be different, when used correctly, a dog diaper should help avoid messes caused by the above issues.
“Depending on the type of diaper and the fit, dog diapers can definitely prevent pet messes,” says Dr. Whittenburg. “Diapers work better for small amounts of fluid, dogs in heat, or dogs who have mild incontinence.”
Types of Dog Diapers
If you’re in the market for a diaper for your dog, Dr. Whittenburg suggests purchasing a diaper that’s made specifically for dogs, as they tend to fit better and are more comfortable for your canine companion.
Besides that, two main options to pick from include:
Washable Dog Diapers
Washable dog diapers are designed with a soft fabric exterior and are lined with an absorbent material to absorb liquids. “There are many variations of washable diapers,” says Dr. Whittenburg. “Some models include an absorbent liner that can be removed and washed, and others require the use of a disposable pad.”
Some owners prefer washable diapers since they’re an eco-friendlier option. Plus, some washable diapers can be custom-made with a dog’s exact measurement, says Dr. Whittenburg, and these versions tend to fit better and leak less.
Disposable Dog Diapers
Disposable diapers are meant to be used one time and then discarded. Because disposable diapers are not custom made, Dr. Whittenburg cautions that they may not fit quite as well as washable options.
The Pros and Cons of Dog Diapers
Like most pet products, there are both pros and cons to using dog diapers.
They help prevent messes. In certain situations, dog diapers may be a tool utilized to help avoid messes in your house. They can be especially helpful for female dogs in heat or dogs with urinary issues that need some help from time to time, says Dr. Whittenburg.
They may prevent other pets from marking or urinating. Sometimes other pets in the home may also begin to spray or urinate where other pets have had accidents, says Dr. Marcy McKeithen, DVM and owner of Motor City Vet Care. Using dog diapers can help stop the situation from spiraling to other animals, as well.
They don’t address medical problems. As a veterinarian, Dr. Whittenburg’s biggest concern with dog diapers is that owners may misuse them and miss out on addressing the underlying issue. “Sadly, this leads to many dogs not getting the care they need, as many serious issues…may go untreated.”
Diapers can lead to potty training issues. Pet parents that use diapers during housebreaking can make it harder for the pet to become potty trained because they may get used to relieving themselves in the home, says Dr. McKeithen.
They can cause irritation. Dog diapers that are used too often or left on for too long can cause urinary tract infections and skin infections.
They’re not great for the environment. Disposable diapers end up in landfills, says Dr. Wittenberg, who adds that even washable diapers require water and electricity to launder.
Best Dog Diapers
The best diaper for your dog will depend on several factors, but the following are good brands to start with for research:
All featured products are chosen at the discretion of the author. However, Great Pet Care may make a small affiliate commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Best Disposable Dog Diaper
Our Pick: Paw Inspired Disposable Dog Diapers
Disposable diapers could be considered less work for you since they don’t require cleaning. This brand offers a fast-drying option with repositionable fasteners to help secure the right fit. They will even fit dog breeds with challenging body shapes such as Dachshund and Bulldogs.
- The breathable bottom layer provides extra comfort for your pet.
- DrySpeed technology converts your pet’s urine into a gel to help avoid additional issues caused by contact with wet fabric.
- The fur resistant fasteners are repositionable for optional coverage.
Things to Consider:
- Disposable, so they aren’t eco-friendly.
- If you don’t get the sizing right, these diapers can leak or cause poop messes due to the hole not ending up in the right spot. Double check the measurements before ordering.
Best Reusable Dog Diaper
Save money (and the environment!) with a reusable dog diaper option that’s stylish and hard-working. These washable dog diapers come in either solid colors or patterns to keep your dog looking cute and feeling dry.
- The easy to clean fabric is machine washable without any fussy care instructions.
- Multiple absorbent inner layers are waterproof and leakproof, which means you can trust them to hold in the mess.
- Soft fabric keeps your pet comfortable, and Velcro closures won’t stick to fur.
Things to Consider:
- Washable dog diapers take a bit more work in terms of laundry and maintenance.
- Sizing may be a bit too small for large or chunky dogs.
Best Male Dog Diaper/Wrap
Our Pick: Pet Parents Dog Wraps
Especially for smaller male dogs or puppies, wraps or belly bands can provide just the right amount of coverage without going overboard and causing unnecessary irritation. We like these reusable wraps because they are absorbent and they stay in place nicely to keep accidents at bay.
- These washable wraps are extra soft and comfortable, with Velcro closures that won’t stick to pet fur.
- The sewn-in diaper pad is highly absorbent, while the waterproof, leakproof outer layer helps prevent damage to your home.
Things to Consider:
- Not a good option for female dogs.
- Sizing runs a little small, so size up if you’re unsure.
Best Female Dog Diaper
Our Pick: CuteBone Washable Dog Diapers
Whether your female dog is in heat or just prone to accidents, you want an option that will keep your home clean while also keeping your pet comfortable. We like these reusable cloth options from CuteBone because they are made from premium materials and have a sewn-in, absorbent diaper pad.
- Cloth diapers are machine washable, soft and comfortable, and they’re more economical for multiple cases related to both urinary incontinence and issues related to female heat cycles.
- Made from premium materials, the sewn-in diaper pad is waterproof and leakproof without the need for extra disposable sanitary pads.
- Velcro closures are easy to use without irritating your pet’s fur.
Things to Consider:
- Some pet parents had a tricky time figuring out how to adjust the elastic on the leg openings and there are no included instructions.
- The tail hole runs a bit large, especially on bigger sizes. This can pose a problem for dogs with slim or smaller tails.
Best Senior Dog Diapers
For a no-fuss solution for senior dogs struggling with incontinence or urinary issues, these disposable diapers from HARTZ are a good option. They work for both male and female dogs and offer up to 6 hours of protection from leaks while keeping aging pups dry. They’re an affordable solution, too!
Good pick for both male and female dogs.
Adjustable tail hole and adjustable tabs to get a precise fit.
These diapers keep your dog dry by turning urine into gel.
Things to Consider:
- Since they are disposable, these dog diapers are a bit wasteful—especially if you’ll be using diapers regularly for your senior dog.
- Sizing only goes up to a large, so they may not accommodate bigger dogs.
How to Keep a Diaper on a Dog
Getting the appropriate size is the first step in getting a diaper to stay on your pooch. Aside from that, Dr. Whittenburg suggests getting your dog used to the diaper slowly. Keep in mind, though, that “some dogs, especially those that have worn doggie clothes in the past, have no objection to wearing a diaper,” she says.
Remember that any time your dog is wearing a diaper they should be closely monitored to ensure they aren’t trying to chew the diaper off. “This can be a sign that the diaper is very uncomfortable, and we don’t want a pet to ingest any foreign material,” Dr. McKeithen adds.
If the diapers keep sliding off your dog, you can research and consider dog diaper suspenders, which attach to the diaper and go around your dog’s chest to help hold the diaper in place.